Vulnerability

My DH and I started out arguing last night, but ended up with a new understanding.  I wish we did not have to fight to get to the gold nugget, but alas, that is just the way it works sometimes.  I have been working really hard in the last week or so (well okay, with a few setbacks along the way).  But my DH has not mentioned noticing anything.  I was beginning to think that if I am working as hard as I can and he doesn't even notice, am I EVER going to make any progress (with him)?!  I know that one week does not make a new lifestyle, especially with my ADD (two weeks is usually my max on any "new program"), but it's still all I have to offer.  I can't go back and change the past; all I can do is change today.  And I was really NEEDING some encouragement!  I started a conversation with him about this last night.  At first, he was very defensive and I was surprised at the anger I heard in his voice--he is generally a very even-tempered kind of man.  Once we got past some of that, I broke down a little bit and explained that I was being totally vulnerable with him and giving everything I have to give.  I wondered aloud if he had even noticed and whether it would ever be enough?  I told him that I didn't think he could possibly understand how hard this is for me and that I KNOW we're in a really "bad place" (he keeps saying that) but I'm doing everything I know how to do to try to fix it.  Will it be enough?

What he was thinking is interesting...

He sort of admitted that he had been holding back on commenting about the good things he had noticed in the past week (then he proceeded to list all of them...a long list--he really IS paying attention!).  So why was he withholding the encouragement that I crave?  Because he was afraid that by acknowledging my improvements, I would hear a "back-side" criticism instead of encouragement...that I would think he was pointing out all the things that NEED improvement and it would hurt me.  Well, dang!  I had to convince him that hello, I HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED how bad things are.  I KNOW things need to improve.  I am begging for help FROM A PSYCHIATRIST, for goodness' sake (I was literally filling out the questionnaire for my ADHD official evaluation as we were talking)!!  I am not in denial here!  He conceded that I have been very vulnerable, open and non-defensive about the whole thing, which is not typical for me.  But he is totally confused about what he is supposed to be doing and how to help.  I get that.  I really do.  Because I don't really know what he should be doing either.  That is why I want a coach or counseling for us from someone who has a clue.  Because we obviously don't.  But what I DO know (and told him) was that I need to start getting some encouragement or at the very least, for him to express that he is NOTICING what I am doing, or it is going to be very difficult for me to stay motivated to work so hard.  I don't mean that it's his job to be my cheerleader, and even if he DOESN'T do those things, I still have to keep working--I know that.  But I really NEED to feel his support if at all possible; it will make this so much easier and probably much more successful for both of us.  I think he is beginning to get that now, so hopefully that will help.

About 2 years ago when I first started seeing a counselor (for myself), I had VERY low self-esteem due to 40 years of untreated ADD, and I could not figure out how in the world this man could possibly love me.  I asked him why he loves me?  It took a LONG time for him to answer...many months, in fact.  Finally, an answer came...he said it's because I LOVE HIM.  Well, now that is a REALLY sweet answer, I know.  But it was not really what I was looking for at all.  What I needed was an acknowledgement of some sort of gift(s) of mine that he appreciates, in spite of all my many shortcomings.  But I never told him that--it would have hurt his feelings after he tried to give me such a thoughtful answer.  The sermon at church yesterday was on family life, and how family members' personalities are often like oil and water.  And how we often try to shake up the oil and water (change the other person), but how much continued force it takes to keep those mixed together (if left alone, they will just separate again!).  The point was that we need to see the value in each other the same way God sees value in each human being.  This brought back to my mind the question of what VALUE do I really bring to my marriage or my DH?  So I asked him (almost the same question as "Why do you love me?").  This time he gave me another very sweet answer...because I make him a better person.  I soften his rough edges and force him to consider others' feelings and to deal with not always getting his way.  However, this is still not in any way about my personal gifts or value--except that putting up with me makes him more tolerant.  But when I pointed that out, he got angry and said that is exactly the kind of interpretation he was expecting to begin with--that I would hear the "back side" of a compliment and take it as a criticism.  

Then after some more anger and defensiveness from him and a bunch of tears from me, he FINALLY got what I was saying...that I need to know what he loves ABOUT me.  He thinks that is a totally different question than WHY he loves me--to me they are one and the same, but I guess I can see that there might be a difference?  Then it finally dawned on him that it makes total sense that I would need that, and that our kids need that, and that everyone he has a relationship with needs that.  And so he promised that I WILL know.  He needed some time to process everything, which is fine with me.  He "processes" things internally and very logically and deliberately before acting or speaking, while I "process" things by talking and rambling out loud in circles.  I have totally accepted over the years that we are different in this way.  So I don't mind waiting for him to think through it.  I was just so glad that he finally understands what I was saying and asking (I hope)!  And I think he genuinely believes that I am working really hard, even if he cannot quite understand it yet.

So while the discussion itself was not very pleasant, I do consider this to be PROGRESS we are making, so I posted it under this forum.

Welcome To Vunerability

Mornin' ADD Wife-

It's wonderful to hear your faith is helping to get you through. This whole 'life' situation is surely where the rubber meets the road on that one, LOL.

That mutual understanding of perception is such a big deal. I understand it is difficult on my husband's side of the street in the interpretation department. It's a lot like what you describe going through. I can relate, even from afar, about what you are describing your husband going through in a big way.

I frequently find myself afraid to relay something due to impending misinterpretation, LOL.

Let me share a little scenario that occurred within the last two weeks.

My husband did the dishes. (Yes, I realize this would not be noteworthy elsewhere in the world, LOL)

My husband has actually been participating more in the household arena since the revelation of adhd. He had dramatically dropped out of this aspect of family life all together. I realize he's making changes. He is slow to realize how much I've been carrying for the duration. That is the nature of the beast, so to speak, when it comes to adhd. (Inaccurate self appraisal)

Now back to the dishes. I can literally count on one hand the amount of times my husband has done the dishes, unprompted, without a frustration outburst during our marriage.

I assure you, my side of the street feels it's quite a significant event. Prior to the adhd realization I used to joke, "It's the 1950's up in here!" in relation to my husband and housework. It's just that over time it became less and less funny. Things happened and I became less able to shoulder the enormous pile of ever mounting tasks that kept being sloughed my way.

I am just beginning  to move out of the grief stage for my unrealized expectations of marriage. Let's be honest and say that my husband's inability to think and plan ahead probably made the experience of marriage pretty jarring in itself for him.

In any case, I still have not said a word about the dishes and here's why:

When I saw him doing the dishes, I ran to the bathroom. I literally had to. There was no stopping it. I began crying uncontrollably. There was nothing I could do about it.

I instinctively knew my husband would misperceive my feelings if he saw me breaking down. We've been down that road too many times to count. The better thing, in the moment, was to get out of the way of progress.

How many women in general are moved to tears by their husband's dishwashing? I'm going to guess not a lot, LOL. I'd bet many spouses of adhd partners have that type of experience fairly frequently once they begin to step towards a meaningful way of working together though.

Joy doesn't even begin to describe the feeling I had when I saw those dishes being done with no prompting or outburst.

He would have only seen tears.

He would have only seen sadness at an explanation of this being a big deal. He would have focused on the realization that he hasn't acted appropriately for the entire duration of marriage.

It is progress, even in light of the fact he may not do the dishes independently without an outburst for lord knows how long again. I'm pretty sure it'll be long enough to be unfunny again, LOL. It's a weird thing for a partner to need "pat's on the back," for dabbling in the areas you've been forced to shoulder for years. That's just the truth.

Give yourselves the gift of time.

 

You should still say it

I understand why you could not talk about him doing the dishes at the time, and you may be exactly right about how he would have interpreted it (then again, maybe not?!).  But PLEASE take it from someone who has been there...you need to tell him that you noticed!  No, a spouse doing the dishes should not be as big of a deal as it is, but...believe me, it is a big deal in his mind too.  Especially if it is not typical--that means he made a conscious effort to do it FOR YOU.  And NO FEEDBACK at all is very discouraging when we feel like we've done (or tried to do) something significant!  You don't have to make a huge deal out of it and go down "that road."  But at some later time (when you're not crying!), just make a simple, casual comment like, "I've noticed that you've been trying to help out more lately and I really appreciate it."  Then move on or change the subject.  It doesn't have to be a monumental event or discussion, but he NEEDS to know that you are aware that it takes effort for him to do something like that.  You don't need to point out how MUCH effort it takes and certainly not that it SHOULDN'T take effort (that WILL only negate any offering of praise or thanks!).  But acknowledgement is key.  These kinds of changes are HARD for us--they are not natural and therefore the ONLY reason he would do those dishes is to try to please YOU.  And if he is not sure that you even noticed or that it had any positive effect, why would he keep trying it again?  TELL HIM (please)!

Sometimes I think my DH hesitates to praise me or our ADD son because he doesn't want us to get the idea that whatever small step we took was "enough" when we still have so far to go.  I think he is afraid we will stop at that if we think he is pleased.  But just the opposite is true!  An encouraging word or compliment or expression of appreciation is like giving us a shot of dopamine and just makes us want more of it!  So we will KEEP TRYING and do even more to get the next "dose!"  But remember...any progress will almost certainly be INCONSISTENT, (two steps forward, one step back sometimes) so be patient along the way too!  Don't assume just because he stops or has an "inconsiderate day (or week!)," that you are back to square one--it doesn't have to be that way!  He might just be taking a step back before moving forward again.  If you give up, then he will too.

Our self-esteem is so battered already, usually by our own voices in our heads.  We really do NEED gobs of encouragement.  It may seem silly to do and like it shouldn't be necessary to have to give so many "pats on the back," but try it anyway!  Think of how many things you have already done that you "shouldn't have to do" in your marriage; so giving a word of encouragement here and there is a LOT easier, and what if it WORKS?!  If it doesn't, you haven't really lost anything, AND you've been unconditionally kind and loving to your spouse in the process.  But what if it DOES help, even a little?  Wow.

"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."  Proverbs 16:24  (You mentioned faith, so I hope you don't mind if I share a verse.)

Didn't mean to

As I was reading back over my post, I realized it might sound more like "scolding" than I meant for it to!  Sorry about that.  I really do totally get why you have not said anything about the dishes scenario to your husband.  And it DOES seem ridiculous to give a pat on the back for something he SHOULD have been doing all along.  But I just wanted to share what might help your relationship and not necessarily what is logical or even "right."  It is not "right" that our non-ADHD spouses have to provide encouragement when you would rather knock us over the head (and we would deserve it, LOL)!  But I guarantee that encouragement will be more productive, and isn't that what we ALL really want?...a better relationship and to express love to our spouses in a way they will FEEL loved?  Anyway, sorry if I sounded too harsh.  I didn't mean it that way at all.

Praising ADD Partner

ADD Wife-

I found your comments about praise interesting and something I'm struggling with in my relationship.  I'm always torn about how much praise to give my ADD partner (btw, she won't admit to being ADD but I'm definitely 100% convinced after reading all the material on this website).  I feel like it's a monumental effort to get her to do some very routine stuff around the house (like washing dishes for example) and usually she's only done half the work and I end of finishing it.  I want to praise her for the effort, but I also feel like she needs to know what's expected of her on a daily basis.  I shouldn't have to plead and then tell her how wonderful she is for it, especially when the job's not always complete.  Also, what do I get for the disproportionate amount of work I'm doing around the house?  Not much.  For example, I almost always do the laundry even though I'd like her to help.  The one time she did it, she noticed that I didn't thank her for it and she said she might not do it again.  So, I do the laundry all the time and get no appreciation from her, but the one time she does it I'm supposed to shower her with appreciation???  It just seems a little backwards.  Shouldn't I be showered with appreciation!  But, I also realize that she's the one with ADD and I need to take a few simple steps to move her in the right direction, as frustrating as it is.

Hi Alfred

I am actually not sure how to respond to your post.  Mainly because I do the same thing...I take for granted what my husband does but then expect him to praise me when I make an effort, almost regardless of the outcome of that effort.  But that is terribly unfair, isn't it?  So I can understand the frustration - for him and for you.  But all I can tell you is that I honestly do need the praise in order to keep trying consistently.  

The reason I think I don't praise HIM is because it further highlights my own failures.  If I acknowledge to him that I realize he is doing more than his share or taking responsibilities that ought to be mine, then I am admitting that I see the discrepancy in our workload and then I am therefore compelled to change it.  But I don't know how to change it or don't believe that I can be successful if I try.  So that makes me feel even more helpless and bad about myself and only adds more pressure on myself, causing the "shut down" reaction so common to ADD, making it even more difficult than normal to change behaviors.  This is ugly and embarrassing stuff--I am just being brutally honest with you here.

So I guess the choice that non-ADD partners have to make is whether you are willing to allow this discrepancy and inequality while you praise your spouse for their effort, in hope that it will motivate him or her to continued effort.  This is incredibly unfair, I know.  And hopefully it would not be a lifelong situation.  My hope is that I CAN make truly lasting changes, and possibly with the help of a coach or counselor, that we can find a way to have a new kind of relationship that is fulfilling to us both.  

Not really a good answer, I guess.  But it is the truth for me right now.  The other side of this coin is that criticism can be destructive and poison the relationship, especially if it is sarcastic or insensitive.  There is an effective way to "criticize," but it is delicate and it has to be done in a very non-threatening way that is balanced with praise (think of SOMETHING!).  Again, I know this is not fair.  I feel like an immature child just trying to explain it.  But maybe it will help somehow?  I wish I had a better answer for you.  Maybe when I am farther along this journey, I can re-visit this issue with a new outlook.  Note that I have never really had any professional practical help on these issues.  So please don't take my response as the only one out there.  I feel SURE there is a better way; I just haven't discovered it yet!

DF's picture

May I have this dance?

Excuse me if I seem out of sorts.  I'm in the "Dark Place" that Sherri refers too.  Second time in 6 days.  Nothing like Shutting Down to make good progress - right?

So I'd like to contribute to some things i've read here:

"...He would have only seen sadness at an explanation of this being a big deal. He would have focused on the realization that he hasn't acted appropriately for the entire duration of marriage....." 

Replace [sadness] with frustration and you have what I live and breath everyday since August of last year.  It is my own personal torture that I go to bed with everyday.  I respect your insight into this and I would agree it's unfortunate.  Maybe this is why my wife leaves the house after the kids go to be 5 out of 7 days a week.  Since May of last year my wife has only had to clean the bathrooms 1 time.  I do it 2-3 times a week every week for just over a year now.  My wife hates a dirty kitchen.  It's small and cramped so I do the best I can by making sure there are no dirty dishes in the sink and the dishwasher has been emptied and reloaded as well as clean the counters, every day since August of last year.  I have coffee ready for my wife in the bathroom before her shower every work day since November.  I get nothing. 

"...No, a spouse doing the dishes should not be as big of a deal as it is, but...believe me, it is a big deal in his mind too...."

Yes and yes.  Before marriage and long before diagnosis I lived alone and it was me against the world.  I feel selfish and weak knowing that my wife has done all of these things for years and got nothing from me, yet here I am starving for some sort of acknowledgement.  Where I think I differ is that I think it's not so much that I'm looking for a "thank you" so much as an acknowledgement that I'm at least trying.  I get nothing.

"....The one time she did it, she noticed that I didn't thank her for it and she said she might not do it again.  So, I do the laundry all the time and get no appreciation from her, but the one time she does it I'm supposed to shower her with appreciation???......"

That's a bit unfair of her.  I'm not too happy about that.  I was oncall July 4th weekend last year.  My wife has planned a trip to a friends lake house with some friends and family.  Due to "possible" poor internet reception in the middle of the lake, I stayed home.  Without my wife knowing anything about it, I painted the living room, dining room, kitchen and hallway ( small house ) the color that she had been planning on for over a year.  I knew my wife was dissapointed that I did not go on the trip.  I got a "it looks really good".  It was unsatisfying.  She was 1 month away from completely disconnecting from me at this time, unknown to me, so I did not see sincerity in her response.  It was a let down to me because she knows how much I hate painting and I did it for her to show her I cared and that she mattered.

I'm in a bad place again.  I threw myself onto the sword Sunday morning and let her know via email that I feel unwanted.  I was good until Wednesday when I felt slighted and then last night when my wife was upset with our ADHD son and his school work.  She wanted to blame me as it is the role I have assigned myself.  He's doing really good in school since the diagnosis and meds.  I've been working hard with him to help coach him on what makes us different and how we can adjust.  I have always told him that if you want something you have to earn it.  He wants my wife and I to trust him and since he's earned my trust with his vast improvements in school, when he tells me he has no homework I believe him.

Last night he got busy at bed time over a science experiment to be done today in class.  It was head butting time, but the players were different - my son and my wife.  I don't yell anymore and since my diagnosis I stop and breath and try to listen to my son before speaking.  Needless to say, my wife was upset that I took my son at his word about homework and did not check his daily planner.  Having spoken to the teacher later - "after my wife ran away and condemed me to go to bed alone again" - the science project was an in-class assignment that was not getting graded.  My son just wanted to make it work.

So I'm here in my dark place.  Angry and frustrated that she would think that after I have been working this damn hard to learn and make a difference in our lives, that I would have so easily reverted back to my old ways.  I'm 2 months away form our anniversary.  Also 2 months away from her realizing she had enough of putting up with me.  I feel as though I've made absolutely no difference in her life.  I still see no evidence that she appreciates anything I do.  She still does not talk to me aside from idle chit chat.  She still looks for reasons to not be home after the kids go to bed.  Any attempts at regaining her trust..... I guess I'm a fool for thinking I could. I'm pissed off because I know only 2 absolutes - 1) The last she will hear from me tonight is "I love you. Goodnight" ( via text ), and 2) I'm going to bed alone.

If she didn't already have plans for tonight I would stay at work and sleep at my desk. 

 

To DF

DF, I am sorry your wife has not acknowledged your efforts.  They sound AMAZING!  I can't imagine being that consistent with ANYTHING for an entire year (or for two weeks, for that matter!), AND taking full responsibility for your ADD son's schoolwork and coaching him too (I have an ADD son as well).  You have been the one to encourage me in the past to make changes for MYSELF and not for the praise of my DH.  So I guess you will have to continue in your own advice here.

HOWEVER...

I wish so much that you and your wife could communicate on some level other than idle chit chat.  What happens when you try to have a serious conversation with her?  Does she get angry?  I am afraid that all of your efforts will just turn into resentment in you if she continues to overlook your sincere efforts.  Even if her feelings have not changed (yet) or she feels like what you are doing is "too little too late," surely she can at least concede to all that you have been doing for her?  I know you are afraid of the "commitment" talk because you are afraid she will just walk out.  And I am not an expert, so maybe your approach is best in this department.  But I feel like the little bit of progress I am making with my DH is due to some genuine and honest COMMUNICATION, and you don't have any of that.  So it seems that you are spinning your wheels.  Is there any chance she would sit down and talk with you about some of these issues and how she feels?  Also, I wish you knew that what you are doing is what she really wants and likes and needs so that your hard work is focused in the right direction.  But again, that takes communication from her.  Do you ever just ask her questions like, "What do you need from me?" or "What is the one thing you would most like for me to change if I could?" etc.?  Like I said, I am no expert and I have no idea what you should do, but the thing that keeps jumping out at me from your posts is the lack of communication.  Even if she would just tell you what she's mad about, that would at least open up the communication and you could listen.  Does she like to talk about that?  Maybe you could start there and sort of give her the freedom to complain or criticize without doing much responding or reacting.  Maybe that would allow her to get it off her chest, so to speak?  I can't see how you will make much progress until the two of you can talk.  

This is me, totally from the outside looking in, and only looking at what you have chosen to share.  So I may be way off base (forgive me), but I just feel sympathy for you because you are doing the only thing any of us can do...try to change today and tomorrow.  You can't go back and fix the past.  None of us can.  But you have worked so hard for so long to try to do better, and it sounds like you have SUCCEEDED in so many ways!  I am sorry she is not more responsive.  Maybe your kindness will break down her walls one day.  Don't give up.  You are doing GREAT!  I am proud of you and I don't even know you.  But I do know how much work it takes to accomplish what you have done, especially when you are getting no feedback from the person you are doing it for.  I can't even last through a week of hard work without pouting about not getting a "thank you!" - what a crybaby I am!  Hang in there, DF.

DF's picture

I do need to take my own advice - I know

It's just that today it's just hard to follow.  I tell myself I do what I do so that she can see that I care.  I'm being counter-productive by being upset.  This shutting down thing sucks.  It's what I've been doing for a long while.  I woke up this morning at 4am and found my wife sleeping on the sofa after having walked out last night in tears about arguing with our son.  How can I possibly read that as anything other than I did something to piss her off?  How?  I didn't yell at her, tell her she was wrong.  I told her she is a great mother and that she shouldn't feel like a terrible mom and then I told her that I loved her and goodnight.  I wake up to find her on the sofa.  What on earth did I do wrong?!  I went to work an hour early and came home 3 hours late in hopes that she would be gone to her planned activity.  I'm so upset I can't even look at her because I can't let it go.  I'm afraid to make eye contact because I don't want to see her dissapointment.  She could have said something to me all day about it, but instead I got bitter texting about being at the DMV.

I have been working so hard and today it feels so impossible.  That's why I have my other post on "when does the anger go away?".  Days like today I just don't know what I have left.  Her ignoring me in front of people is murder for someone with low self esteem and I try and I try to live one day at a time.  You would think I cheated on her or beat her or called her names in private or in public, but I haven't.  I never have.  I just don't know what I've done.  She's not a bad person so please, I beg you, do not be judgemental of her.  You're only getting one side of the story, granted I don't even know her side of the story.

Days like today I just want someone to talk too and waiting for replies on this forum just don't cut it. 

I have 'emailed' my wife, my desire to do something more for her that she would be comfortable with.  More than just getting her coffee in the morning.  I send the same emails to myself so I know she gets them, but as for reading them I don't know.  I email her because I'm getting better at saying what's on my mind and putting it in writing.  I'm very self-concious about that since I would hate that someone else might see it too.  She's not mean, I have been betrayed long before my wife and some things are hard for me to let go.

I would love to sit with my wife and talk.  I want her to unload on me and get it out.  I want to know what she's thinking.  I want to know if I'm making a positive difference in her life.  But without any sign of her letting go of whatever has her so upset with me, I just don't see it happening.  She has resentment towards me, I can see it, but I don't know what to do.  I can't sit her down and talk to her.  Her defenses go up and I'm immedietly the bad guy.  She doesn't act like it, but when the defenses are up, how am I not the bad guy?  If I could find a hole in her armor I would feel more comfortable approaching her.  I don't know what to do but just keep doing what I'm doing even if it's too pushy.

I emailed her this morning about last night and tried to give some explanation that I had not fallen off the wagon into my old careless and irresponsible ways.  Alas I started off by telling her you can't give the gift of sight to a blind person that doesn't want to see.   I guess until she "chooses" to investigate ADD(HD) I'll never have a chance.

Going Well!

Just a quick update that things have been going quite WELL since this talk with my DH.  He has been trying really hard to be more encouraging...or AT LEAST less critical!  I'm excited about the progress.  ALSO...I have been doing well myself.  I have been fairly productive for a lot longer than my normal "spurts."  Not perfect, of course, but much more consistent than usual.  YAY!!!

Re: I asked the same question

I've asked the same question from my adhd husband before. There are times (once in a great while)  I've really needed some sort of validation from him as to "why" he loves me. He only SAYS he loves me if I say it first, then he will repeat it, but never initiate the phrase, " I love you". Anyway, when I tried to explain to him that I would feel really good if he could "tell" me some of the things he thinks are "good" about me. (I try to say as many positive and affirming things to my husband as possible, to let him know he's important in many different ways to me). Well, he couldn't think of any GOOD things about me.  So, I used an example, and told him things like... I like your hands because they are very strong, but yet they hold me gently and tenderly. I like your sense of humor and you do funny jokes, just to make me laugh, etc.......... Anyway, he couldn't think of ANYTHING to say about me. I thought maybe I overwhelmed him and/or put him on the spot, so I smiled and said, "Just tell me ONE THING that you really like about me, and that makes you smile or something.  He couldn't think of ONE THING. I was dumbfounded. I tried to hide my disappointment, and just shrug it off, but it was there. Maybe I was wrong to ask, and I tried to explain further, but even later on, he couldn't think of anything. I felt stupid, terrible and confused. And he thought I was dumb for asking such a question.

  

Dedelight4, I am so sorry

Dedelight4,

I am so sorry for your disappointment.  I don't really know what to say to help you feel better and I wish I did have an answer.  I can say though, I asked my husband the very same question quite a few times now (been married close to 9 years) and his reply the first time was 'because I love the way you organize the plastic lids in the plastic cupboard'.  I was SO upset with him for that response!  Every other time I've asked him I've gotten absolutely no answer at all.  I am sharing this so you know you are not the only one and I hope your husband can find a way to express his feelings to you.

Hang in there!

 

Weird

Weird that this is such a common theme.  You would think almost ANYBODY could think of ONE THING that you like about ANYBODY!  I haven't really gotten an answer yet either.  Things are better between us lately, but I would still like to hear something from him on this question.  It SEEMS fairly obvious that this is a need and it SEEMS like it should be easy--so why is it so hard to meet?

Part of our 'homework' once

Part of our 'homework' once in counseling was for us to write down the things we loved about our spouse. It was during a particularly difficult time and I literally sobbed because I could not think of not one single thing that I loved about him at the time...God that was devastating.

I bet that if I asked him this question he could tell me many things about me that he loves....he is never short on compliments and telling me how much he loves me...and why. He often thanks me for 'putting up with' him too. Nice to see something today that reminds me of his good traits. 90% of the time he tells me he loves me first. It isn't on purpose, or me intentionally not telling him, it is just he says it spontaneously a lot more than I do.

Hmmm

I used to say that a lot to my dh--thank you for "putting up with me."  It was almost a standard comment of mine when signing cards.  But I have tried to stop saying that.  My counseling helped me realize how often I put myself down and how destructive those kind of thoughts can be for me--my confidence and self-esteem.  Now I try to focus more on my good qualities and change the "tape" in my head.  I just wish HE could do that too.  He THINKS he is doing a lot better, but he is still making little comments that hurt my feelings (totally unconsciously).  Earlier tonight he sent me a file on email that he wanted me to print because he was typing it on his ipad and can't print from there.  He will need it sometime tomorrow but he reminded me 2 or 3 times tonight.  And when I looked irritated about his reminders, he told me he knew I would still forget.  I finally just printed it right then to PROVE that I wouldn't forget.  And earlier I cooked dinner.  For some reason, this is one of my hardest areas, but today I planned ahead and even marinated the meat ahead of time, EVEN THOUGH I had to take our daughter to the doctor late this afternoon because she has strep throat.  Normally that kind of unexpected interruption would totally wreck any plans I may have had for the rest of the day.  But I still made it to the store and cooked a meal.  Then when he was getting a drink out of the fridge for dinner, he noticed some leftovers from the weekend and said we could have eaten leftovers and we should definitely eat those tomorrow.  Um, SERIOUSLY?!?!  

This man would NEVER be intentionally mean.  But it is almost unbelievable that he could be so insensitive.  And yet he wants a pat on the back for being so much more encouraging lately.  Huh?  He has mentioned that a few times now and I can't see how he thinks he is being encouraging except that maybe he is not being quite as CRITICAL (maybe)?  I guess that's better than nothing, but not what I really consider encouraging.  So I guess we both have to put up with each other!  This is how my perspective has changed (improved?) in the past couple of years.  I can finally see that HE is not perfect either.  'Cause I really used to think he was.  In my own assessment, he was perfect and I was scum.  Now I think we're pretty even...somewhere in the middle!  Still wish he would (could?) tell me something he loves about me...or at least what he LIKES.  I am having to work hard to find things I like about myself, and as I discover them, I am growing less and less patient all the time with waiting for him to see them too.  Then again, as someone told DF recently, why do I get to grow impatient after just a few weeks when he has had to accept my faults (mostly unknown to me then) for YEARS?  I guess I owe him some time to figure things out.

Ok...playing devil's advocate

Ok...playing devil's advocate here...I don't see anything wrong with the 'leftovers' suggestion. I'm just curious why you took that as an insult? As a non-ADHDer, I wouldn't take that as any kind of insult to you...but maybe I'm missing something. I will go out on a limb and guess that you felt you were doing a great job...preparing in advance, taking your daughter to the doctor, and still getting home in time to make a nice, fresh meal. How does his comment about leftovers completely diminish all of that in your mind? Can you try and see them as two separate things? Him seeing food that needs to be eaten/not wasted and commenting about how you should have it for dinner tonight is one thing. Your efforts to make an nice meal last night, compounded by the trip to the doctor, as another? Why would you automatically assume that his comment was in some way tearing down your efforts for last nights meal? How about, instead, you DON'T be offended by it and instead say "yes, we will definitely have those tomorrow, but tonight I wanted this" and let that be it? Why would his off the cuff comment about leftovers make you feel so bad about yourself? I'm not saying he isn't guilty of saying things that might be hurtful...I cannot know for sure...but in this case there is room for questioning whether this is HIS issue or YOUR issue. I wouldn't give a shit if my husband said "we should have had those leftovers" it wouldn't bother me in the least. I make what I make..and if he eats, fine..if not, fine. It is food. It doesn't dictate who you are or your value in his life. If you pick at things like this and feel bad over every thing he says, you'll exhaust him...YOU are going to have to learn to let things go and stop assuming his intentions were negative and just carry on with your life. You say he'd never intentionally be mean...so that might be a good indication that you're being overly sensitive about things that you shouldn't be.

I can see how his constant reminders irritate you..why they would..I get that. I do the same to my husband because honest to God if I don't, he forgets. If he prints it, he forgets to bring it home. It's not right, but it is just a knee jerk reaction to the fear that if you don't do it NOW it won't get done, ya know? I certainly don't mean to make him feel bad about himself...and I know I probably irritate him too, but the truth is, he's not extremely reliable sometimes, and if I am in a position where I have to rely on him, it usually only gets done with a lot of reminders. It is what it is. I asked him to carry in the dog food the other day...he said he would shortly. Never did. Hungry, starving dogs didn't even motivate him to 'remember'. I didn't remind him, did it myself, and he remembered a few days later and felt bad. Should I have reminded him? Either way, according to this, I would make him feel bad. What are we to do?

NO ONE is perfect...and you need to stop NOW feeling like you're trying to live up to anyone's expectations. You will make mistakes...we all do. You're trying...your husband knows...let that be enough for now. RELAX! :)

 

Good Points!

Thanks, Sherri.  Those are all very good points.  And today, when I am not so close to it, what you say makes perfect sense!  You are right that I should be giving him the benefit of the doubt if I KNOW he would never intentionally be mean.  That's what I want him to do for me too, so I should offer the same respect to him!  And I think I took the reminders so personally because I knew I was NOT going to forget.  But of course, he didn't have any assurance of that, especially given my track record of forgetting things easily.  So once again I am expecting him to read my mind and somehow just know that THIS TIME he can depend on me.  Grrr--I need a good kick in the pants sometimes!  Not EVERYTHING has to be analyzed and picked apart all the time.  Thanks for being my reality check tonight! :)

By the way, tonight I had to take our daughter to play practice right around dinner time.  My DH came home from work and heated up all the leftovers for himself and our older kids, even leaving everything out for me and my daughter to eat when we got back home.  He's really a good man--I should be grateful...and I am!  And your reply to my post reminded me to be sure to tell him so.  Thanks.

I meant to add... I think

I meant to add...

I think love is an action...more than a feeling...and it might be very hard for me sometimes to put into words why I love him, but I do. Even when I could not think of one single reason I loved him, it didn't mean I didn't love him. That is the 'feeling' part of it. Maybe for many ADHDers, actions are easier than feelings...doing things (staying in the marriage, helping around the house, providing for the family) probably feels like an act of 'love' and putting into words what exactly it is probably feels like climbing a mountain..with a straight jacket on. My husband has put me on the spot by asking me this question before...and I hate it...and I'm not ADHD. I love him. My heart longs to have him in my life. He is my best friend. I want to grow old with him. Sometimes things specifically about him that are lovable are scarce...but the feeling is still there.