Verbal Cues

Hi all,

My wife and I have not been able to come up with a verbal cue that works for me to let my wife know when I find myself not listening to her anymore in a conversation because she is going into more detail than I can take in.  She hasn't been able to suggest anything, and whatever I suggest she doesn't seem to like.  I'd love to hear from people with and people without ADHD to hear what you have found that works.

Also - I'd like to ask - do you use these cues/words only when it's the two of you, or also when you are with others?

We've tried using a physical cue of my touching her on the leg under the table when we are with others.  We had agreed that I would do that when I sense that others have lost interest in what she is saying judged by their non-verbal cues, or even their verbal attempt to change the topic.  But when I have tried to use it, she still gets upset, not sensing that she HAS gone on too long, and so thinking that I am being critical or judgmental, "cutting her off too soon."  My way of dealing with that is to decide to give her back the responsibility of monitoring for herself. 

We have not been able to come up with a verbal cue at all.

she has to want it

The "cue" can really work, but like anything else, only if we want it to.  She's clearly not ready, or doesn't agree:  "She hasn't been able to suggest anything, and whatever I suggest she doesn't seem to like."  and "when I have tried to use it, she still gets upset, not sensing that she HAS gone on too long, and so thinking that I am being critical or judgmental, "cutting her off too soon."   Your giving her back the responsibility is the only realistic choice in that environment.  Consider sharing the next paragraph with her if you two are actively working on new strategies. 

If you ever get the opportunity to have a good (but short!) conversation about the silent "cue" again, you might remind her that lots of couples use "silent communication" when they are in a group, for all sorts of reasons.  And they do it because it works for them, not because one of them is "wrong".  It actually can bond the two of you when in a large group as being on the same "team".  When someone at a dinner party says something astoundingly boobish, but for reasons only the two of you understand, you can't laugh out loud, you exchange a certain "look" to share the joke.  Right?  When I introduce someone to my husband at a work-related function, and I squeeze his hand, he knows he's supposed to just be polite and move on, not start telling stories on me.  When we had teenagers, and were having a little bit of drama with one of them, if one of us tilted their head toward the door, that was a sign for the other to leave for a moment to cool things down.  It's a way of passing information one partner has to the other partner who doesn't have this information yet.  So if your wife ever agrees that she does go on too long, why wouldn't she "trust" you to help her out of that jam in a graceful way?  Maybe she doesn't, deep down, agree that she does this?  Or if she does agree it happens in theory, but never in the heat of the moment, does she realize that one facet of ADHD is sometimes the inability to have accurate perceptions of social interactions?  Until she knows she sometimes runs on, wishes to control it, and knows she sometimes can't judge that for herself, she won't be able to make use of your help.  She'll just keep feeling like a failure or that you're too critical.  In this area, she is still trusting herself more than you. 

A verbal cue is MUCH harder, because it's so hard to not make it harsh.  When my ADHD guy isn't paying attention during a conversation, I touch him:  hand, shoulder, whatever's handy (!) and natural at the moment.  It helps sometimes.  Because I am a "relater" by nature and love conversation, it's rare my guy goes on "too long" in our conversations.  He can talk a lot longer about his own interests, and rarely can listen to mine, but I'm curious to know, in your own private conversations "how long is too long"?   Over-sharing in terms of detail and length is not one of my ADHD guy's challenges.  "Over-sharing" in terms of appropriate content, however, is another story!  But those "blurts" can't be prevented with a cue of any kind.  best wishes.