Understanding Inconsistency

As I continue to read about ADHD there is a lot of focus on inconsistency- but to me this seems like an extremely vague reference. Does it apply to everything or is it primarily applicable to task completion or forgetfulness. Is it a matter of saying one thing and doing another (ie- lets go to the movies, but when you leave the house you are headed in a completely different direction actually going away from the movie theater?).

Your personal experiences and examples would be appreciated. My intention is not for this to become a rant thread- instead just an explanation of some of the manifestations of "inconsistency" to help those of us who are just beginning to understand and learn about ADD/ADHD.

Response to inconsistency

Dear ended wit, I have been away from this type of support group for awhile. I have been married to my husband who has ADD for 10 years, we have been together as a couple for 13. I joined an online support group when we first got together to understand what was happening with him. It has been a roller coaster ride. I came back to a group like this so that I can maybe help other couples through my experiences.

Inconsistency can be so many different things, it could be work related, or picking up around the house, it could be not saying hello, or goodbye, forgetting food on the grill. The list for me is endless, this is how I help my husband and myself. We have an online calendar that is connected to our phones. All important appoints go on there, if it is not on there I can guarantee that my Husband will not remember. This system works out great for me also, we have 3 children and have appointments in 1 place helps. The big inconsistency for us is the attention he gives me, or lack there of. He figured out a great way to fulfill my needs. He sets up reminders at work to call me and see how I am doing, and if he can't call me he will text me. This makes me feel wonderful, especially since I know how hard it is for him to do. He has an alarm set at work everyday, and when it goes of it is his reminder to what I call the pay attention to your wife alarm. This helps me with all the resentment , and feeling left out, or just plain feeling ignored. He definitely gets great rewards from me out of it.

Hope this helps, Married 2001

Inconsistency with Everything

Yes, it applies to everything.  The way I think of it is that I am pretty good at doing "project-oriented" types of tasks.  I am good at SETTING UP organizational systems or re-organizing something (a closet, the laundry, a new system of some sort, even a new diet), and especially at starting new things.  But just about ANYTHING that takes maintenance or a regular routine (housework, eating healthy, working out, keeping a calendar, daily meditation time, planning and cooking meals, grocery shopping, etc. - or even simple things like a regular bedtime, taking vitamins, personal hygiene, walking the dog, etc.) is nearly impossible for me to do except in "spurts."  I can come up with a great PLAN to do these things, but I cannot execute it for very long.  Therefore, I never achieve consistency in anything that is ongoing.  

This is one reason why other people struggle to understand that I am not organized or that I have ADD...because most people who don't LIVE WITH ME see me in my "project mode" - planning an event for school, working on a project at my job, hosting a party, attending a committee meeting (I can TALK ABOUT lots of great ideas!), etc.  And I appear to be SUPER organized.  Because I am.  Temporarily.  Sometimes even to the EXTREME.  But they don't see all the things that have suffered or fallen apart in my life while I hyper-focused on whatever project I was doing at the time.  They see the end result of my project work only.  I created an awesome slide show for the volunteer banquet at school, or I can share my excellent parenting idea of a chores chart system for my kids or they can see my tangible PLAN for an organized system or method for just about anything.  But they don't realize that I stayed up all night to do the slide show (bc I waited until the last minute) or that I don't monitor the chores chart for more than 2 days at a time, and that I haven't cooked dinner in 2 weeks.  THAT is inconsistency.  And it affects EVERYTHING.  It is incredibly frustrating, not only to the people I love (I'm sure), but also to MYSELF.  I hate it, but I seem to be powerless to change it.  Oh yeah, I can come up with a great PLAN to change it...and I can even DO IT...for a day or maybe even a week!  But then I am right back to my old ways again.  I haven't yet figured out how to break this cycle, except that if I "reinvent" the system every couple of weeks, I can maintain changes for a little bit longer.  But that is pretty exhausting, so I can't keep that up for very long either.

One issue that I consistently

One issue that I consistently had with my spouse was over hygiene- and I've read about this being an issue in almost every article or study I've reviewed. I reminded him fairly often to take a bath (which I look at now as being very insulting to have done). Is that what you mean by personal hygiene (or mostly brushing hair- changing out of pajamas?).


DF's picture

Very nice

EW - Thank you.  I've been in a crap mood all day and just got done bleeding my frustration in another post.  I don't mean to be impolite at all, but what you just said made me laugh.  I really needed that so I hope you're not offended.  It's not so much that it's funny, it's that it came out at me from left field and caught me off guard.

Again - thank you.  I can go to bed now not feeling like I have all day.  So I'm going to stop reading any more posts.


Yes, by personal hygiene I mean taking a shower, brushing my teeth, fixing my hair, putting on makeup, washing my face, etc.  I can't even seem to get in a consistent routine with these types of things.  It is embarrassing to admit, but then again, you asked for it!  :)

My husband has a problem with

My husband has a problem with personal hygiene, too.  Very rarely takes a shower.  He prefers to sit in the tub and that is his idea of getting clean.  I don't even know if he uses soap.  I'm afraid to look to see if there is a bar of soap on the tub or not.  He has a problem with brushing his teeth.  Sometimes he can go weeks between brushing.  Then, he can't understand why I don't want to be close to him.  Good Grief!  Have some respect for your fellow man!

Same here...longest he's gone

Same here...longest he's gone is about 10 days without a shower. Never uses a wash cloth. Teeth brushing is hit and miss. Shaving...Never EVER consistent. He's currently apparently growing out his 'goatee/beard' thingy and I HATE it, but what can I do? I don't 'remind' him to shower...but there have been times that I wanted to cuddle with him, but couldn't because of the smell. He's thin, so he rarely gets body odor, but he still stinks after a week without a shower. I am glad to know it isn't just him. (??)

Not just your husband

Sherri, you are not alone.

When I reconnected with my husband (we had been casual friends years before when we worked at adjoining stores) the first thing I noticed was has awful teeth. I found out he never bushed regularly. He only had 5 teeth left. When he got a job with benefits, I made him get them pulled and get dentures. But he never takes those out or cleans them. Of course, he expects to get kissed.

He does not shave regularly. I finally had him grow out his beard because it does not need daily maintenance. He shaved it off today because people who interview him might not like it.

He has hyperhydrosis, a medical term for excessive sweating. He does bathe every day but does not use deodorant (He says it doesn't help). There are treatments for this, but the insurance for the job he just lost specifically said they were not covered.

I don't know what the answer to this problem is. I worry about this because he needs to put his best foot forward for job interviews.


Okay... Clean ADD guy here :-)

I'm NOT a Metro-sexual by Any means... :D My mornings are centered around getting ready to leave the house. My schedule is perfectly orchestrated from beginning to end. I am not good at brushing my teeth twice a day, but I ALWAYS brush before I leave the house. I go, at most, one day, without a shower and that would have to be a weird set of circumstances. I hate feeling dirty and I'm terrified of smelling. Antiperspirant Deodorant is key... It has to have "Antiperspirant" or it will not stop "Smell". I have always wanted to blend into the background and personal hygiene is an effective tool. You certainly need to look your best at an interview, because they know this is a "Best Case" version of you :-) I also know that my weight loss has helped me a lot. There is definitely a "Perception" of "The Lazy, undisciplined, Fat Guy" out there...

I am not sure if I have Hyperhydrosis, but I have always sweated like crazy and felt embarrassed by this. I learned when I was in my early 20's that Antiperspirant Deodorant worked and the other did not. At worst, it couldn't hurt to put it on... I also believe if you don't feel like you look good, it shows 10X to those around you.

Stay clean :-)



Like all things with ADD...

I am sure this varies from one person to the next. But I think being too distracted to pay attention to basic routine tasks like showering is very common among ADDers.

I am not even sure the shaving was a good idea. His face is all red and scaly under the beard. Yuck!

When he showers and shaves

When he showers and shaves and puts on his cologne he is so amazingly handsome to me. He knows that I am HYPERsensitive to smells...I LOVE good smells..and I HATE bad smells so it makes him really paranoid about letting me near him when he hasn't showered. I really do try and not say anything to him, I do not want to hurt his feelings, but I really cannot understand not taking 5 minutes to take a shower everyday. Where he lost so much weight on the ADHD meds (he's 6'4" and got down to 125-130lbs..VERY skinny!!!) he says that he's miserable when he gets out of the shower because he's freezing cold. I don't know, could be...but he's never been one to shower everyday..or even every other day..but once every 7-14 days like he is now is really extreme. He does brush his teeth everyday before work...if he goes in. :-/

wow... that IS skinny

125 and 6'4"?  eek!  I thought *I* was getting bony.  (5'4" and 114)

I have ADHD, but I've NEVER not showered for longer than 3 days and that was because I had had a C-section!  (twice)  I brush and floss everyday and feel icky and can't sleep if I run out of floss.

hm...  maybe put a space heater in the bathroom so he's not cold when he gets out?

For Sueann

The part of your posting about your husband's teeth rang a bell. I couldn't figure out why my fiance was letting his teeth literally rot away. He was fastidious about his clothes and other bits about his appearance. His teeth were horrible! He wondered why he wasn't getting anywhere professionally, and I didn't have the guts to say to him, "It's your teeth--or lack thereof!" He is finally getting something done about them. It's incredibly expensive, as you know, but at least now he can chew!

Inconsistency with Everything by ADD Wife

Yes, I must agree with you.  It applies to everything with my ADHD husband, also.  Why, when deep down you know that maintenance and/or a regular routine is something you desperately need, do some of you rebel against that the most?  I get so frustrated with my husband I could just scream.  But, of course, I don't.  For example, mowing the grass, which for many years was mainly my job because he was always gone, jumping from adventure to adventure.  Well, now, it is his job, as I have relieved myself of that chore.  But, instead of mowing the grass once a week as it should be and keeping a handle on it, he seems to find every excuse in the book not to do it and before you know it, it has been 3 weeks since he mowed and now because of his procrastination, the grass is way high and it takes him twice as long to mow.  HE KNOWS THAT, HE HAS ACKNOWLEDGED THAT, SO WHY DOES HE FIGHT SO HARD AGAINST SUCH A SIMPLE SOLUTION!!!!  It must be a crisis before he will act on it. 

I Ask the Same Question

I ask myself the same question constantly.  Why, when I so desperately NEED routines and structure, do I rebel against it?  I also don't know, when I know I NEED help and direction, why do I so strongly resist when my DH tries to provide this?  I honestly have no idea except that it makes me feel like an idiot to need help.  As I write this, I finally think I understand why my ADD son is so stubborn about doing the organizational things we tell him to do with keeping up with his schoolwork.  It is the same thing, except that he has been able to verbalize it--he doesn't think he SHOULD need his "Mommy and Daddy" to help him or check behind him and doesn't think he SHOULD need to write everything down. Because he knows other kids DON'T need that (except that I think they DO need to write things down--they just don't think about it so it is not an effort for them, they just do it naturally--but I can't convince him of that).  It's the same thing with adults I guess.  I know other people don't need help to maintain normal adult activities, so I feel stupid if I do and then I react defensively when someone tries to help.  But, as I tell my son...WE DO NEED THE HELP and whether we SHOULD or not is really beside the point!

For me it is more broken

For me it is more broken promises than anything else. Promises to change hurtful behaviors (sleeping in the den, spending money we don't have which adds a TON of stress to my already maxed out life), that lasts only weeks..or days...or hours. Promises to be honest...he lies about so many little things, that to him I am CERTAIN seem insignificant, but when I find out he's lied my trust is none the less destroyed. I literally struggle to believe anything he says...but this is somehow MY fault. MY problem. Promises to lead the marriage in the right direction. The most recent is church. We got back in church after years of not going, and both felt we'd found out 'home'. He even got baptized on Easter Sunday...but now he has stopped going and I am just beyond devastated. It just seems like anything 'good' that is gained, is shortly thereafter lost. I guess this is inconsistency.

The issues of not helping with the house/yard/laundry/vehicle maintenence, hygiene, leaving towels on the floor,  messes in the kitchen at 2 a.m., and stuff like that I can live with. Never an issue for me. I guess when you deal with issues so much larger and more painful, things like this seem insignificant. Our marriage is one big fat pattern of him doing just enough to get back into my good graces...until the next time he folds to whatever impulse or hyperfocus object he's got in his sights...and then he'll push me until I am about ready to walk out the door, and then it starts all over again. The longest period of time where his behavior was consistent and showed that he had what was best for our marriage as his top priority (or at least was TRYING) was about 5 months...in 14 years.

Inconsistency describes so much

Inconsistent definitely describes my (undiagnosed) ADD partner.  Other descriptions:  lack of structure or routine, spontaneous, unplanned, unorganized, without forethought, no sense of time, not punctual, no anticipation, live in the moment, etc.  It pretty much amounts to a lot of chaos (mixed in with some fun and adventure).  But, too much chaos.

We talk about it a bit (probably not enough).  I don't know how two people can be together and have a family (we don't have one) without some consistency, structure, routine, etc.  You can get away with it as a single person, but not as a couple.  Everything must be coordinated in order to avoid the chaos I'm talking about.  We can even plan a day, let alone a week or weekend.  How are we supposed to plan the rest of our lives?

I don't think of myself is overly structured.  I get up in the morning and want a "sketch" of the day, knowing that I'll have to adjust as things come up.  But, I can't even get an idea how the day is going to unfold.  Any attempt is met with "you know I don't like to talk about these things in the morning when I'm just waking up."  To me, that's just an excuse for someone who doesn't want to think, make, or commit to any kind of plan.  From there, things just unfold in haphazardly.

I think about my partner's "radar" and how she only thinks about something when it very (very) close in.  For example, she can even begin to talk about dinner plans until about 6PM.  Any earlier and she can't even think about it.  If I try, she'll say she can't thin about it because something else is going on in that moment.  We can get by on most days, but can creates frustrating, logistics issues in many cases.  It's not just dinner though.  Buying gifts, for example, doesn't ever happen to the last minute.  It wouldn't be so much of a problem except that I it usually involves me taking her somewhere since she can't drive (her not wanting to drive is a big issue in itself!).  If she lets me know ahead of time, I tell her, it's less stressful and we can combine that trip with trips to the grocery store, for example, and avoid the "surprises."  That would require forethought though.  Not her thing.

So, I insisted that we sit down with a calendar once a week to talk about what's coming up.  That was a big failure.  She says she never forgets anything.  I tried to explain that this isn't about forgetting, per se.  It's about planning and giving me a heads up so everything isn't so last second.  If fact, any kind of deadlines or structure causes her to be very anxious.  Instead of making plans, such as, meeting at the coffee shop at 3PM when she's out, she will tell me that she'll call me when she's ready.  My phone becomes a pager and I anxiously wait until she's ready.  She doesn't work with the hands of the clock.  It's all about the moment.  If we do meet a targeted time, for example, leaving the house at 7PM for an engagement, I unfortunately feel like I have to stay on top of her.  Stress inducing all around.

What's interesting is that this is her M.O. and she relishes it.  She's fun, spontaneous, and charming, which is why I'm attracted to her and what she loves about herself.  Being anything less would take away from who she is.  We both like to travel but we never seem to go anywhere because I'm tired of trying to make plans and she definitely won't make them for us.  She travels on her own sometimes to some adventurous places and I wondered how she did it without any planning.  Later, I learned that she basically takes a guided tour everyday so she doesn't have to deal with the details.  If I was with her, that would be my job.  I want those details to be both of our responsibilities.

I try to bring some routines and rules to our relationship to make it less chaotic, especially around the house with laundry, groceries, cleaning, etc.  She knows when I'm trying to bring structure and will totally rebel.  For example, I'll try to set aside an hour or so on Saturday morning to clean our place.  She call it out as routine and tell me that she "doesn't do routines."  When are we going to clean then, if not on Saturday?  Answer:  I don't know but it should be scheduled.  This often leads to inaction.  Ditto for everything.  Needless to say, this lack of structure effects me (raises my anxiety level) and means I pick up a lot of slack or constantly go with her unplanned flow.  Grocery shopping usually happens spontaneously when we're out doing something else and usually met with some resistance.  It doesn't seem to be an ADD activity, along with the laundry, dishes, etc.  I dream of the day we plan our trips to the grocery with a good list in hand.

I often try to plan the day and sometimes she goes along.  But, if she decides in the moment that she wants to do something else or not follow the plan, she'll tell me that's "my plan" that I "forced" her to make since--in her mind--I'm overly structured, and therefore she does not have to fallow it.  Sometimes I don't mind being flexible, but I always have this feeling that planning is useless because she's going to do what she wants to do anyway in the moment.  She lives by what she feels in any given moment, not by any clock or schedule.  Of course, this often means she's not punctual.

I didn't even mention the forgetfulness that is so common with ADD.  That's why there is no forethought.  Of course, there's the usual things like losing her phone or keys.  More frustrating are the times when she needs to focus on just one thing and it never happens, or happens after being pushed and pushed.  I'll try to "delegate" so I don't have to do it all myself.  For example, I tell her she needs to do one thing today--such as get some tooth paste.  Then, I hold my breath and see what happens.  She'll get it, eventually.

Actually, as I'm typing, she called to change the dinner and movie plans we had because she's having a difficult time.  She's out and lost her phone and then all her appointments to meet friends got messed up (her friends have to deal with the ADD, too).  Time for me to adjust again.  Still not sure when and where we're meeting.  On standby as she tries to figure things out.

This is getting long-winded and I haven't even talked about the other ADD symptoms--total disorganization in the house, impulsiveness, outbursts, inpatient,etc.  This website has been amazing!  We've been together for over six years and I never could put my finger on what exactly the issue is.  I knew if I focused on the little things that somehow I was missing the root cause and creating tension, which is what I did for so long.  I'm trying really hard to be patient in this relationship but it's trying.  She has some great qualities but I'm trying to figure out how I can live like this.  I'm not sure I can live with the lack of consistency.  She wants to get married and have kids and I just see the problems multiplying.  My initial attempts to tell her she has ADD haven't worked.  She brushes it off (although doesn't get angry) and says that I always try to label people (like the time I labeled our friend OCD, almost certainly).  I feel like if I can get her to admit the problem, we can start addressing it.


Sounds Like

Sounds like she is nowhere close to admitting the problem because it sounds like she doesn't think there IS a problem.  She seems happy with who she is and how she is.  That is actually pretty great, but relationships do not tolerate the kind of behavior she is displaying.  So if she ever wants a relationship or tries to have any kind of lasting one (with you or someone else), she will eventually recognize her "problem."  No one will "put up" with all of that without ever trying to change it or change her.  Does she have any issues with self-esteem?  

You sound SO MUCH like my DH, although I don't think I was ever quite as bad as far as being "okay" with my own symptoms. We have been married for 18 years and I just figured out my ADD about 2 years ago after our son was diagnosed.  We have 3 kids and have basically been happily married for 18 years.  But in recent years, our relationship has degenerated into a parent-child dynamic as he tries to impose some sense of routine and structure into our lives. And my symptoms have become more and more debilitating while he reacts by trying to exert more and more control.  So now I am seeking treatment and it is getting a little better already.  

I cringed while reading your post because one of my biggest frustrations over the years was that every Saturday my DH would wake up and ask, "What's your plan for today?"  I always wanted Saturday to be a "free" day.  And I guess that probably would have been okay with him if every OTHER day of my life was not already a "free" day (in his perspective anyway)!  But I would get mad and then he would get mad and it always ruined every weekend.  He is now learning that parenting or controlling me is not healthy for our relationship.  But we have to find a new way.  We are working towards that together now.

If you do decide to stay with your girlfriend, maybe you can reach this point MUCH earlier and save yourselves some of the pain.  But SHE will have to want to work on it too.  It's good that you already recognize that you love her free spirit but that it is the very thing that will cause problems too.  Don't ever lose sight of her gifts; it is a blessing that you can see them.  You may need to write them down somewhere to remind yourself on those days when you get really frustrated with her.  Maintaining your respect for her will be key to making your relationship last.

So Much to Say

ADD Wife--

Thank you so, so much for the reply.  It's so helpful to get some feedback, especially from an ADD wife.  I am losing perspective on what is considered "normal" in a relationship.  There's so much to say.

First of all, there been a few instances where she seems to admit that she has a problem.  For example, she is always losing or misplacing things and this one time she couldn't find an important document.  As she was looking throughout the apartment, she realized just how unorganized she is and how much stuff she hoards.  As she was looking, she was talking out loud to herself about how she has “a problem.”  It was a rare moment and I was almost shocked when I heard it.  I wasn't sure how to react, but I didn't want it to go unnoticed.  So, I responded by saying that I agree there’s a problem, but it’s something WE can work on.  She eventually found her document and then it never came up again.  If I bring of the various issues (disorganization, etc.), she’s usually defensive or sometimes gets angry.  At least the event made me realize that she has some self awareness of the problem.

She'll also admit from time to time that's she's not "wife material."  I'll tell her that I'm not looking for a traditional wife because, after all, I'm not exactly the traditional man.  Rather, I prefer and told her that we should share the responsibilities.  But, I made it very clear that I'm not going play both roles, which I feel is mostly the case at the moment.  I can’t be the maid, the secretary, the planner, the chauffeur most of the time and the bread winner.  So, I try to make sure things are about 50/50, which she'll call out as "keeping score."  I respond that it's called "teamwork" and sharing the responsibilities.  For example, she won't do the laundry because it's mostly mine.  True, but I point out that I help her with many of her things.  Despite my efforts to distribute the work, I still feel like I’m pulling most of the weight.  I've come to realize she's always had roommates or boyfriends to pick up the slack (but none of them have lived with her for this long).

This brings me to the control issues you mentioned.  I really try not to be a controlling and nagging boyfriend, but I'm often guilty of it.  The problem is that without my oversight many things just won't happen, happen infrequently, or not on a timely basis, especially when there's no urgency or crisis.  For example, I needed her to get some insurance information from her school, which I needed by a certain date.  I gave her almost two months notice and I would give her (gentle) reminders once a week.  Of course, it got pushed to the very last minute (which created some other issues) and I got very upset.  Instances like this reinforce that I need to stay on top of her.  Once her cell phone wasn’t working properly and created lots of communication issues.  It took her four months to replace it despite reminding her nicely every few days.  I have many examples of such behavior.  Many times I can anticipate the problems, which means I stress until it gets resolved.  It's feels like watching a train-wreck in slow motion—like the last minute shopping that I try to get ahead of.  My options are 1) not mention anything and hope she just does it 2) reminder her nicely and/or 3) get upset.  Usually opt for #2.  Sometimes I default to #1 and I often end up at #3.

There are many little projects (primarily around organization) or things that need to get done that just never happen, unless it’s urgent.  For example, we’ve had something in our cupboard for about two years that she brought from an overseas trip.  Eventually, I asked about it and she said she plans to give it to a friend, who she sees about once a week.  So, I pulled it out of the cupboard and put it somewhere in plain sight as a reminder.  Now, it’s been sitting out for several months.  Finally, her friend came over just last night and I set it on the coffee table where they were chatting.  I couldn’t believe her friend left the apartment without it!  Another exmaple:  I’ve been asking her to find the Netflix DVD that’s been missing for months but somewhere in one of her bags.  (Still waiting—good thing there’s not late fees!).  I’ve got a mental list of things that I need or want done, but they will never happen unless it becomes a crisis.  I bought her a gift certificate to a salon over four years ago.  It went missing for a few years in the closet until I found it.  I set it by the door to remind her to use and told her how nice it would be to use it.  The salon is in the neighborhood.  It’s been sitting there for at least a year.  Something like this doesn’t cause problems per se, but it’s the lack of focus/attentiveness that is frustrating.

It interesting to observe her ADD coping mechanisms, which often are she relying on me.  When we go overseas, she wants me to keep her passport safe so she doesn't lose it.  If something is important to her, she'll want me to write it down or put it in my calendar to remind her.  She refuses to learn how to drive, which I can understand since it must be overwhelming to have to pay attention to traffic signs, traffic, pedestrians, etc. and pay attention to where you’re going.  Attempts to make her more self-reliant are met with "why can't you be a reliable man that takes care of his woman."  I’m often that reliable boyfriend, but even I sometimes make mistakes.  I’ll get “crucified” for the occasional important mistake and be told I’m not reliable.  You can imagine how that makes me feel.  I want to be reliable—just no relied on.


One of her good qualities is that she a fabulous cook, but even that presents some issues.  After she’s done cooking, the kitchen can often be what I consider a disaster.  A fair rule is that one person cooks and the other cleans.  But, I don’t think it is fair to have to be left with a complete mess.  I tried gently to create a “clean as you go policy” without much success (as much as I tried not to, she must have felt like I was talking down to her).  It was so bad that I decided that I would rather do the cooking (I like to cook but not as well as her).  As I started to cook more, I had to constantly remind her to stay on top of the kitchen (even though I leave much less of a mess).  She’s now doing the dishes regularly, but she often doesn’t finish the job and the job never gets done until the next morning.  I’m trying hard not to push it, but again I usually have to pick up the unfinished work.

Regarding Saturday plans, I can't believe you have the same issues.  Sometimes I prefer weekdays when work and such force us into a schedule.  We definitely have different approaches.  I get my work done and then relax.  She's all about having fun, but never seems to have time to do housework.  It can always wait another day—again, what’s the urgency?  I initially thought it was an issue of priorities until I read about ADD.  She's all about living in the moment and having fun.  On the weekend, it's her free time and she wants to make the most of it.  After getting up and fumbling around on the computer and talking to friends, she suddenly realizes her day off is passing her by.  That’s when I try to have the conversation about what needs to get done before we get to the fun stuff.  During the work week, she's tired and doesn't want to focus on chores.  So, I end up doing more of the work.


The only time she goes into "hyper-focus mode" around the house is when friends are staying with us or coming for dinner (unfortunately, not often enough).  Of course, it's normal to clean the house for guests.  But, she seems to go to an extreme (which seems to be in part due to how she wants to appear to others).

I remember when we first moved in together before I realized there was a problem.  I tried to put some basic mechanisms in place to keep our place tidy.  For example, the first time I noticed that she wasn’t putting stuff away I tried to explain this concept that everything has a "home."  How naive I was to think that it would be that simple!  Very early in the relationship I once told her she might be ADD, before I really knew much about it.  I was mostly joking and just grasping at something.  She actually was curious and went online to take a test.  She said she wasn't ADD, but thought that I was (hmm, that's strange).  That was around year one of our relationship.  I never seriously considered ADD an issue again until recently in year six.  Better late than never, I suppose.


You mentioned low-self esteem, which I know is common among ADD’ers.  She definitely knows she is not the “wife type” and I think that gets her down.  On the other hand, she knows she very charming and people are really drawn to her, which I’m sure feels good.  I think she really tried hard to be the wife type early in our relationship, but I still told her she wasn’t doing enough (again, I was just trying to have a 50/50 relationship).  But, it’s gotten worse as she feels like our relationship won’t lead to marriage.  I tell her that I could marry her tomorrow, but we’ll still have to address the issues.  We’re stuck in this difficult place.  Overall, yes, I think these issues are definitely weighing on her self-esteem.  I think in her mind she just wishes I was that all-reliable guy, which she apparently once had and (regrettably) walked away from because she was young and looking for something else at the time.  I really want to get married and have children.  I just need to her to recognize the situation as I do.

I can relate to the parent-child relationship that some many on this website talk about.  I always thought of myself as a very (very) patient person, but I’m starting to feel like a short-tempered person.  I do try to remind myself of her great qualities.  She has a very attractive personality and physically attractive as well, among other good traits.  I tell me myself that this can work if she just admits that she has an ADD problem and shows some indication that she willing to address the issue.  I definitely don’t expect perfection.


As I re-read what I’ve just written, I sometimes feel like I’m being highly critical or my expectations are too high.  Part of that is because there’s a quiet “battle” going on to define how a “normal” relationship should function.  I feel living in constant disorganization and chaos is not normal and stress inducing, something she’s more comfortably with.  Coming back to this website helps me realize that my expectations are not too out of line.

This has been really, really long (and cathartic!).  Thanks ADD Wife for the perspective and everyone else for the time.


Alfred, Im glad you found a place to work through some of the "stuff" that comes with and ADHD affected relationship. You sound like you do a lot of thinking and observing as unbiased as one can be through one's own eyes. Thanks for your well crafted posts. I would like to share my experience with expectations in my ADHD relationship (I'm the non) in hopes that it will help you reflect some more them. My DH has long said that my expectations of him were impossibly high standards for him to live up to. Like you I wanted him to make an effort to be a team participant in our finances, to take initiative to get things done, instead of me making a list of honey do's. I wanted him to decide what to make for dinner without calling me for reassurance that I will like it. I wanted him to take just a small piece of the household leadership. I wanted him to take up a project without me taking part too. I wanted him to suggest we go somewhere next weekend and decide what time we should leave himself. Now this is sounding unfair and iimpossible to ADHDers in here Im sure, but this was before I learned he probably has it. Now that I know that it is highly likely he does, Im like, "ok maybe I do need to adjust my expectations after all. This stuff is obviously hard for him." So over time I whittled my expectations down to a few fairly simple chores and I expected him to have a full time job. The less I expected the more he seemed to distance himself and blame me for our problems. The more he denied that ADHD could be a factor the more I began to realize that this was going to be my life until he could come to terms with it. I began to lose my respect for him, because he wasn't making a good partner or teammate the way he was, but he was chosing not to help himself either. He is currently choosing to seperate by moving acroos the country to live with his parents and Im thinking maybe that is best for him. And for me. In hindsight it seems that adjusting my expectations to an adolescent level probably wasn't the best thing to do for either one of us. A forty something year old is still an adult, but given that we live(d) with an adult with ADHD, it may be a good thing to adjust expectation of timeframes and methods. But the expectation of living an adult life with all of its responsibilities is something that should be allowed to remain in the framework of a relationship, in my opinion.

OMG Alfred!

I just spent about an hour replying to your post and then I somehow hit the "Back" button and lost it ALL.  I wanted to cry!  I will try to re-create it tomorrow.  Sorry, but it's past my bedtime now.  And I had SO MUCH TO SAY in response to your post.  Ugh!  :(

Fascinating, but Much More Frustrating


Thanks for the response.  I'm glad you appreciated all the gory details of my relationship.  I definitely, definitely could relate to the issues you described in your relationship (feels like an echo chamber!).  I may just end up in your same place (a few more comments about expectations below).

I had a couple of follow on thoughts after I posted my long post.  I'm frustrated by ADD as well as fascinated by it (not in equal amounts, of course!).  Perhaps two sides of the same ADD coin.  In my post I mentioned that I thought my girlfriend had ADD early on, but not because I actually knew much about it.  I noticed some rather trivial behaviors that puzzled me.  For example, she would leave the TV on when she left the house.  Caps would never be put back on top of their bottles.  When she used the microwave, she wouldn't close the door.  Drop stuff on the floor and not pick it up.  Not hanging the wet towel in the bathroom.  And, of course, forgetting to put the scissors, for example, back in the drawer after using them.  They are all rather trivial and things I noticed within weeks of living with her.   I was trying to make sense of them and told her she should test herself for ADD.  Since it was early in the relationship, it was a more playful conversation than a serious or frustrating one.  Only later would I confront more frustrating issues that were all part of being ADD, many of which you mentioned.

About the missing Netflix DVD, I reminded her again to find it tonight.  So, she started to dig through one of her many bags around the apartment where she stashes stuff.  When I ask her to find it, it's much more complicated for her because she has deal with the messes in her bags, which is why I think she procrastinates.  There's lots of trash, mail, catalogs, random pieces of paper with phone numbers, notes, business cards, receipts, tickets stubs, etc., etc. and she is confronted with organizing it.  Tonight, she literally filled an entire trash can while finding the DVD!  She doesn't organize very frequently so doing so becomes a mini (or massive?) project (no time for that when she could be doing something more fun).  Anyway, she found it and I praised her for doing so.  Of course, I'd would prefer she organize/purge more frequently so it's not such an issue and we could live in a cluttered place.  Her bags aren't the only place she stashes stuff.  You should see the closet!

It's also fascinating to watch her cook because you can see that there is no planning or preparation.  For her, cooking looks like an exercise in crisis management.  For example, if she's making a pasta sauce, she starts with the onion in high heat.  From there, she'll finish the process one step at a time, but it all must be done urgently(!) because the fire is already on high.  It's very stressful to watch and often I get beckoned to the kitchen to help out (and told to "hurry up!").  In the process, the kitchen becomes a huge mess because there's no time to do two things at once (cook and clean).  Luckily, the results often make up for the lack of process.  So, I appreciate that!

Also, I would say cooking is a good metaphor of how we live day-to-day!

Now, I know ADD-doubters would say that this is just her personality type and her way of doing things.  It seems rather harmless, right?  Am I being too nit-picky?  But, consider the act of driving, which she basically refuses to do (she can get by since we live in a big city with good public transport) because (I think) she knows she can't do it safely and without loads of stress.  How can she multi-task when she drives (watching for the red light while trying not to hit the pedestrian in the cross walk or the car in front of you) and planning (figuring out where she's going and writing down directions beforehand and then following them to completion), among other things.  It's hard to believe it's so difficult since it's so easy for most of us.  Of course, I'm frustrated as hell that I often have to drive her places on a moments notice.


So, as far as lowering expectations, that's a tough one.  I started the laundry tonight and asked her to help me carry the baskets to the laundry room.  After her usual pushing back (why do we have to do it tonight?  I'd rather be doing something fun), she decided to help me.  Huge accomplishment?  Well, depends on what I should expect from her.  It's more than she usually does, but still not satisfactory.  She also helped me make the bed with clean sheets.  Overall, I'll consider tonight a good night, but talk about lowered expectations!

Again, these are my observations.  She's undiagnosed and I'm certainly no psychologist.  So, if I've misdiagnosed or misinterpreted the situation, I'd like to know.


ADD Wife -- I'm sorry you lost your post.  If you have the patience/time to write again, I look forward to hear what you have to say.

Illness & ADHD

Hello. I'm new, but, after looking over your posts, I feel as though I definitely have something in common with all of you! The person with ADHD in my life is my fiance. We don't live together, which is a good thing because, at the moment, we aren't speaking. About two weeks ago, I really got angry with him for not following-up on something that was important to me and which he had promised to do. He used the excuse of suddenly becoming ill. The thing that got me is that he ALWAYS claims to be ill when I need him to help me. Anyway, I yelled at him and then hung up on him. I don't know how this situation will turn out. It's just one of the MANY arguments we've had over the same thing: His lack of dependability.

Here's my question: Is it common for people with ADHD to claim illness to keep from doing something?



I can't speak for anyone else, but I have never used excuses to KEEP from doing something.  I was always confident that I could handle anything I took on, until suddenly the deadline was looming and there was no way for me to catch up.  So excuses for FAILURE to do something, yes - I think that's common.  I would come up with an excuse and then I would convince myself it was true... then get really mad at whoever was annoyed with my failure.

Does your fiance know he's ADHD?

To ellamenno

Yes. He is on meds for ADHD. It's a WHOPPING case. His memory is really shot. He is irritable, often late, always distracted, etc.

Now, could you explain why he (or anyone with ADHD) suddenly puts on the brakes and makes excuses at the last minute to not do something? Is it a confidence/ self-esteem issue? I really do want to understand so that I can deal with this situation.

VERY Common...

It's a coping mechanism... When you mess up, AGAIN, you look to find out why? You are embarrassed, feel stupid and Need to know that it was somehow out of your control. You have let down someone you care about AGAIN... It's the sickest of feelings...


...sorry to keep pestering

...sorry to keep pestering you with questions ... but, tell me, what makes it better? What can the other person do?

Questions are why were are here :)

Once I knew how ADD had been affecting me, I began to feel better that my actions/choices were not as intentional, arrogant, selfish and stupid as they appeared to be. I had/have a brain chemistry issue. I know, here I go with another excuse, just kidding (Sort of). When I began taking my Adderall I felt like I was walking out of a life-long fog. I felt GOOD, things slowed down and I could react less impulsively and decisively better. I still had the 200 thoughts about the situation, but I could pluck the right thought out of the group.

Feeling better had an amazing affect on me and the more I understood this ADD the better things seemed to be. It has taken a while to change the perceptions of me, but slowly the ones around me are noticing the changes are not just my latest hyper-focus.


Thank you!

Your reply is very encouraging.

Thanks, again.


I just put this question to my husband....  he said he tried  nagging, reminding....  It would always put me on the defensive and make me shut down.  we had a 'parent-child' dynamic and so he decided to just stop saying anything anymore when I made mistakes/didn't follow through.

We had one 'discussion' where I realized something really had to change.  He pointed out all my failures, told me i had 'no ambition' never followed through on any of my goals and wasn't making enough money.  At the time, I felt he wasn't being fair because I was 8 months pregnant with our second child, staying  home with our then almost 3 year old and working part time.  but I knew something had been wrong all my life when my mom sent me a box of old papers and stuff she had in her house that she wanted to clear out.  It contained report cards from first grade all the way through high school.   the comments from teachers about how I had a messy desk, never knew where my class materials were, talked to much, expected others to take responsibilty for me and on and on and on....  In spite of all that I managed to do well in math and science - so my parents always told me I was smart and didn't need to worry about my teachers' complaints. But was terrible in history and anything requiring a lot of reading comprehension.  My mother thought the comments were hilarious.  When I read through them, I cried. 

I started reading about ADHD and realized i had it and needed to do something about it, but still hoped I could do it without medication.  it wasn't until december when I realized I needed serious help.

So...... to answer your question Isabella... I really don't think there is much you can do that won't be taken the wrong way.  He's got to want to do it himself.  Is he just doing meds or does he have any counseling etc.?

For ellamenno

He's on meds for the ADHD and for depression. He also sees a therapist, but I don't think she specializes in ADHD. He thinks she is wonderful, though, so I don't think I could convince him to see anyone else. All of his doctors have told him to exercise. He does it sporadically and, so, it doesn't help. He's also been told to see a nutritionist (he's heavily into junk food), but he hasn't done that either.

To be honest, many of his problems are rooted in a lot of resistance. It's becoming overwhelming for me. I think you are right: Until he decides to help himself, there isn't much I can do.

Thanks for your advice!