Things have been great with my husband for the past few years. However, he recently started playing music again and is quickly slipping into obsession. Last night, he changed the strings on his guitar and then spent the next hour strumming it in the next room, when I finally brought up that he was annoying me, he insisted I couldn't hear it because it wasn't turned on, then he insisted that it wasn't as long as I was saying it was (of course, once it got annoying I started timing it because I knew this argument would come), then he went into the next room and continued to play it and acted like I was making up that I could still hear it. (he moved about 10 feet away from where he had been before - no doors).
Then we were going to bed, and he ran downstairs to finish a quick chore. Half an hour later, I called him to see where he was and he was playing the guitar again. I wouldn't have cared if he wanted to stay up and play, but I was staying up and had the overhead light on in the bedroom because he was right behind me. When I pointed out that he was getting obsessive again, and told him that if he wanted to play guitar all night, all I wanted was for him to tell me so I wouldn't wait for him, he got really defensive.
With a lot of ADHD issues, naming it often works for us. It didn't work last night.
We have been together for 25 years. I know this spiral. He's already forgetting things, coming home earlier than usual from work, and becoming more rigid and intolerant with the kids and me, as if we have all become more demanding of his time and attention, instead of acknowledging that he is just more interested in something else. It always ends with us fighting nonstop and him not changing until he HAS to, usually when he has lost his job.
Is there any way to stop this obsessiveness? I want him to be happy. I want him to play music. I just don't want it to be more important than his job and family, and I don't want to give up things in my life just because he can't balance his.
Submitted by Dagmar on
He's treated and I can tell he's trying, but sometimes trying turns into "I tried for a little bit, now I can let everything go to hell and be outraged if you have a problem with that, because I tried."
That hasn't happened yet, but I want to make sure it doesn't.
Hyper Focus vs Obsession
Submitted by J on
It's been a while since I've been here and saw your post so I thought I could offer some insight from someone who has ADHD. Not only do I have ADHD, but I've also had some mild OCD symptoms in my past. I can at least, tell the difference between when I'm being compulsive or when I'm in hyper focus for myself.
From reading through the story of your husband and his guitar, I can see a few things going on here if I put myself in his shoes. As far as the hyper focus is concerned, that would be more limited to when he's actually playing his guitar; tuning everything else out and having time blindness. When I'm in hyper focus mode, I lose all track of time and minutes can turn into hours with very little awareness of it. I don't have an answer on how to nip that in the bud even if that were possible? The only thing I've been able to do ( with practice ) is to snap myself out of it and recognize it when it's happening. I think this might be as good as it gets since it's just part of having ADHD.
The obsessive or compulsive part of this, might be what you're really having issue with. Like him getting up to go downstairs to do a chore and ends up playing guitar ( again ), like, he just couldn't stay away. With me, these behaviors always involve some sort of relief from stress or anxiety which is basically why I do it. It could be, that he just got distracted ( squirrel ) in part, but as you mentioned obsession a couple times, I think you might be right and it's more compulsive than it is hyper focus. At least, that might be his motivation to keep going there as his way to manage anxiety. It sounds to me like both are going on, but the compulsive part might be the thing that needs to be looked at more closely than trying to nip hyper focus in the bud. Hyper focus is just something that happens in the moment spontaneously, on impulse, and is one of those things I don't think I could stop even if I tried. The only thing I can do is resist it if I'm actually aware that it's happening but, I'm not always aware its happening 100% of the time. Asking me to be aware of it to that degree would be exhausting and not sustainable however, a gentle reminder from someone is extremely helpful in letting me know that I'm doing it in order to snap me out of it. With me, I don't take offense at that as long as it doesn't come with criticism and irritation. I'm highly sensitive to other people's anger or disapproval and that can be the very thing that stands in the way of me managing it better or not. Negative reinforcement has never worked with me.
Medication and therapy would probably be best course of action in both regards.
Good luck, I hope this helps.
I only know one way to deal with it peacefully....
Submitted by c ur self on
Because many of our add spouses can, and do, get so enamored by people, places, or things at times, we must never live or trust that it's not going to happen....If we place our trust, or livelihood in their hands once we know this about them, our lives, our peace, and our livelihood will always be fragile from day to day....So when it happens, we can turn desperate if we've allowed ourselves to become dependent on them, or trust them to do different consistently...This is one of the major causes of conflict, anger, fighting and divorce....But, if we really love them, and realize we can't trust them, we don't...To avoid arguments, I would set him down and tell him; as long as that guitar is controlling you, instead of you controlling it....I'm not wasting my time...This 30 minute of waiting you speak about....I've been there many many times over the years, we all know distraction is just a part of it, for many of our spouses...But, hopefully we all learn to show grace when it's constructive issues they are battling with (get her uniform ready for the next day, showers, etc etc..)...But when she agrees to be responsible to a time frame, or be accountable to meet a need or responsibility....And after plenty of time passes and I go find her engrossed in some self centered activity that she had to make a conscience choice to do, over keeping her word, then I try to be done at that moment....
The only way I can get her to think about her actions in these moments is to be done...IF you allow them to put your life on hold, they will, with no regrets...We as spouses just become the old whiny ball and chain, that limits their good times...I must accept this is part of her reality, so I don't fall into my own denial....Her guitar is the Pokey man game...
When I would take her on a vacation, she would about walk into walls, cars in parking decks....Never looking up from the IPhone screen...I did it a few times, I would fuss, point it out, they become our child....But one day I realized I'm more important than that....And so is she, if she wants pokey man, she don't need a husband breaking her train of though fussing about it, and I don't need a wife that is not fully engaged with me and loving it...I am totally fine vacationing alone, or with other family or friends, eating supper alone, just what ever....The more she gets tired of my refusal to go places with her etc...The more she discipline's her life....You deserve his full attention, and you deserve him to do the simple things a husband should do....And make those a priority over his self entertainment.....I suggest you hold him accountable by non-participation...As long as we allow ourselves to be used...WE WILL BE USED....
Submitted by whydidInotseethisB4 on
As always, spot on post. Thank you for the reminder of maintaining peace in the midst of the turmoil that happens within many ADD/ADHD marriages and relationships.
The one word that grabbed my attention was the word TRUST. You said, "If we place our trust, or livelihood in their hands once we know this about them, our lives, our peace, and our livelihood will always be fragile from day to day..." I firmly grasped this realization about 4 years ago and have spent much time grieving the loss in certain aspects of my marriage. Primarily, those hopes & dreams we used to have that somehow got left behind in the dust of untreated ADHD, the livelihood of what I had expected for the retirement years that came all too fast, and with unexpected limitations due to irresponsibility and reckless spending. I lost my peace for a long while and its only slowly returning as I keep pushing through and placing boundaries whenever and wherever the need arises. I can appreciate the perspective you shared about 'being more important than that' when it comes to the spouse not being fully present and enjoying him/her self in the moment. I've begun to implement that 'non-participation' rule and it hasn't had the desired affect thus far but I remain committed to holding my ground with that.
Being a word nerd, I went to get a simple dictionary definition: TRUST - assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something; one in which confidence is placed. It saddens me greatly that I cannot depend on my spouse on nearly a full-time basis. I've witnessed a compromised character over the years too as he thinks its quite alright to tell tall tales and mischievous lies in order to inflate the ego and making me look like a blithering idiot. I've been thrown under the proverbial bus more times in the last three years with close friends and two of our children. I was furious when I found out he outright lied to them. Rest assured, I exposed those lies by simply calling him out with those persons present because that is definitely a red line for me. He can think what he wants and have his own opinions but I will not tolerate a character assassination with blatant lies.
Thanks for the post and sharing your perspective!
But when she agrees to be responsible to a time frame
Submitted by J on
" or be accountable to meet a need or responsibility....And after plenty of time passes and I go find her engrossed in some self centered activity that she had to make a conscience choice to do, over keeping her word, then I try to be done at that moment...."
Hi C...good to see you here my friend! The sentence that I started with is very telling. I agree with you even from my perspective because that is definitely a conscious choice and taking responsibility for your choices.
If I told you I would be ready to go with you somewhere by a certain time and you found me playing a game or doing something else instead of getting ready, somewhere in that process I made a choice to do that thing instead of getting ready and be on time to leave. That is something I have control of, because there's a intersection you have to take to go in one direction or the other and make a conscious decision in which direction you're going go.. If I choose to get ready and be on time I will, as long as I'm paying attention to the time and not getting distracted. Even if I get distracted and go into hyper focus on something else for a moment, that usually will only translate to a few minutes and I might be 5 minutes or so late. Typically, I'm usually the 5 or10 minute late guy if I'm late at all.
Lately, I've developed the habit of being early and have been early to every appointment I've had fir quite a while and haven't missed a one. That's with me, living alone, with no one there to remind me. That's also a choice. I know myself well enough to know that I have to build in extra time to get to where I'm going on time. I leave as much as a half hour early in order for that to happen and I sit and wait when I get there because more often than not, I'm ahead of schedule. The worst thing that can happen is I have to wait but so what? At least I'm on time. That's a choice too; to wait rather than be late. And I do this and have ADHD so it's completely possible if you make that choice.
But choosing to go play guitar or Pokémon or any other activity instead of focusing on getting ready is complete taking a detour at the intersection and has less to do with ADHD symptoms and more to do with priorities. As I said, I've proven I can be on time by making the choice to leave way ahead of time and waiting when I get there. If I made the decision to play guitar instead of getting ready, that has nothing to do hyper focus, and everything to do with choosing priorities. Even if, I'm compelled to go play guitar because some internal need I have to relieve my anxiety....it's still a conscious choice, where hyper focus is not. But saying, if I'm hyper focused on getting ready to leave on time because I've made a commitment...then that actually can work in my favor. The choice has been made and if my priorities are straight and being on time is my goal...then every choice I make will be in an effort to achieve that goal. So in that respect, I can't use hyper focus as an excuse for being late because it can actually work in my favor in that context.
When you live alone, you only have one person to blame which makes it incredibly easy to know where the responsibility lies.
Submitted by c ur self on
Spoken perfectly!....Not because you agree with me...But, because you see, and take responsibility (ownership) for you...It's so much easier to maintain loving marriage relationships (especially when one or both have fast minds) when each partner owns their choices, and don't excuse them....There also has to be Grace, (Grace isn't mothering or enabling) It is so much easier to attempt to put ourselves in others shoes when ownership of our life choices is present in us...
I feel like you and I have shared a lot of difficult things over the years, I'm grateful you were there for me...Wishing you great peace my friend....
Prayers and blessings your way!
Submitted by Dagmar on
Well, I guess talking to him worked, even if he got defensive at first. He started making a point to call me and let me know what he was doing, even if he thought he already told me, and he stopped playing the guiltar 10 feet away from me and insisting I couldn't hear it.
I'm so sorry you are going
Submitted by DebbieM on