Washing windows, slamming doors

I told him I was grateful for washing the screen room windows...a lot of them.  I brought him tea and made a pizza while he was doing it.  I asked if he wanted me to work on it with him.  No, he didn't.  I noticed that the water he was using was BLACK.  I said nicely in these words, "Looks like its time to change the water."   His response while wiggling his fingers in the air:  "I had it all going.....Now you went and ruined my.... ach.....!"  He stormed out of the room.   Slammed door.  Slamming things now.  Looks like we are dealing with ADD.  

Duh, you were

Duh, you were criticizing him!  

OK, end of sarcastic voice.  Seriously, to my husband, your comment would probably fall into the category of critical or "judgmental."  As do the following statements:  "I wish you would look for a job."  "I have been very stressed from working twice as many hours over the past month and I feel bad that you haven't stepped up to help more with the housework, as I repeatedly asked you to do." "I don't feel comfortable sharing my feelings with you."

So, where does that leave you and me, the nonADHD spouses?  For me, I've chosen silence and not working on the marriage any more.    


You could've exclaimed, "HOLY CROW!!  Wow! look at the difference!  And look at the water!  Wow!  Y'know, it kind of makes me worry about what's floating around in the AIR, right??"  and just pick up the bucket, dump the dirty water and fill it up with clean water without commenting on it.  That way, he feels that his hard work is acknowledged (washing windows sucks) but doesn't feel like you think he's done something wrong.


I know.

It's dumb.

And you shouldn't have to help him with something that he is supposed to be taking care of, and of course nobody should have to compliment someone for doing a mediocre job on an ordinary task...  But it would stop the outbursts.

I am really working on trying not to see stuff like this as criticism from my husband (for example, when he complains about the dinner being too dry, to salty, too whatever when all the while I was cooking I had to discipline the kids, help with homework & remember not to burn anything while he sat on the couch playing with his iPad).


Were they clean?

Were the windows actually dirty due to the water, or were just noticing the water and assuming it wouldn't work as well if it was dirty?  My point is this - he's washing the windows.  You're happy he's washing the windows.  A great comment would be "thanks for washing the windows!"  Let him do it his way.  You'd probably be pissed if he started mussing around in stuff you're doing and giving you a critique.  If some windows end up dirty, he may just need to get to them sooner when it's next time, thus living the consequences of not paying attention to the water.

His response - stomping off - was an ADHD symptom (impulse control problems) triggered by your stepping across his boundaries.

Another way to think about it is this - what's more important to your relationship?  That all 75 windows look perfect or that he is in control of doing them and gets some satisfaction so he'll do them again?


Yeah but how are the windows?


I do hear on this site a *lot* that we ADHD folk are like children, or that  the NoN ADHD spouse has an extra child to contend with ;   I  don’t know if it is just me but I find this characterisation incredibly insulting and counter-productive.  It alone makes me feel like raging.  How can labeling an adult as a child be anything but insulting and derogatory?    

What I would suggest is that what has happened here is that he felt like you were treating him like a child.   Like he wasn’t capable of doing a simple job like this himself and that it required your intervention.   

He may have looked at the water, checked to see if it was making any difference,   maybe he had exercised his own judgment on it, or he was well aware and had the intention to change the water? 

In one fell swoop you assumed him incapable of making reasoned decisions on his own.

 To me  and I am only guessing here but I would think that he got pissed because to his way of thinking you just couldn’t help yourself,   you just had to step in and tell him the job he was doing wasn’t good enough.

I would think maybe he got angry because he sees this as the standard dynamic, this alone can get frustrating and discouraging.  Why bother doing things when whatever you do is never going to be good enough? Why would you expose yourself to not living up to expectations?

There are likely a lot of difficult lifelong memories triggered when this dynamic surfaces,    so his over the top reaction is likely a cumulation of those and his observation that you too are doing the same.    

 Did the colour of the water matter so much that it required intervention, or were you making a value judgment on his capability to do the task properly?  What is the honest answer?


Your tires need air

If I were washing the windows and DH said that it looks like the water needs changing,  I would not have taken it as a slam but as an assist or maybe laughed at how REALLY black the water had gotten. When DH says to me things like.....like often he does...."Your tires looks like they need some air. You are too hard on the brakes. When you plant that plant, you can't just fill it with dirt - you must add compost and then not forget to water it.  Shall I pick something up from the store that you might have forgotten to get today?" These are things married couples say to each other.  I don't take offense to the extent that I would raise my voice and slam things.  I think what happened is that my comments stopped his "flow of now", He was in a flow with the work, and my words interrupted his process.  He didn't want to change the water until he was at a different stage of the job and now my comment made him think he must do it NOW rather than after the next 2 or 3 windows when he wanted to do it. He had his music set up and couldn't handle my intrusion into his world.  Like a game, he was seeing how many windows he could get done before he could take a break. The stress was that of "You broke my flow. I was going along fine until you messed me up."  The anger was the fear of possibly not being able to get back into the flow of finishing the job.  And also a little bit of "Don't tell me what to do".

But you are not him Jenna.

Yes, but he is not you, and you don’t have ADHD.  You don’t as a matter of course, see the world the same way, it is as simple as that.  Projecting and expecting how you might see things, or how you might behave in a certain set of circumstances onto him is likely to be an exercise in frustration for everyone.

 I have noticed in my relationships that both parties only get critical when we are just plain unhappy.   It’s a downward death spiral.  I can see that it is true that we might get irritated by interruption, at least when focusing on a task and working hard to filter out distractions. But again I find this only ends in disagreements when both parties are on edge, people don’t tend to criticise things they are happy with. I can get irritable lie this when I am tired, or trying to concentrate on something with lots of noise or interruptions.  

It may be that he is critical of you, but it maybe because he is just as unhappy with you as you are with him and every small thing is magnified ten-fold. When my relationship was headed for the  unseen ice-berg,  I would react at the most trivial thing, I would see things in comments my wife made that were not there,  just because the lack of trust was such that I questioned every small thing and attributed it to something vindictive or critical.  I began to see a lot of her behaviour as a process of deliberately mocking me.    Now I don’t see it this way because I know as a result of our improved level of interactions that she isn't, and when she looks at me I can see love rather than scorn.  

Small talk

I understand what you are saying. I just wanted to connect with my Dex thru some small talk, anything. I would have been overjoyed if he would comment on something I was doing -- actually notice me and make an attempt to communicate!  I explained to him many times how the things I said were just ways to connect with him, not criticisms. I sometimes even explained what reaction I was expecting: Me (as we get ready for a camping trip): Is the pressure in the camper tires good? Him: Yeah. Did you get the food?  Me: It's in the camper. Are the doors locked?  Him: No, I didn't lock them -- I thought you did.  Me: I'll go check them.  (Drive happily into the sunset holding hands in the truck.)

Now the reality check:  Me: Is the pressure in the camper tires good? Him: (Silence)   Me: Have you checked the tire pressure ? (Since its been sitting all summer). Him: (walks off)  Me: (I go into house to get food and other things. Pack everything important, cause he's not going to. Walk over to tires. See cap laying on ground. ) Are you through with the tires? Should I put this cap back on?   Him: (to counselor 2 months later, almost complete fabrication) ....And then she handed me a pencil and paper and told me, "GO WRITE DOWN THE TIRE PRESSURE FOR EACH TIRE AND BRING THIS BACK TO ME!). Me: (Just do everything myself or quietly double-check everything he has done when he's not looking) 50 miles out of town: Me (coughing): Didn't you tell the mechanic last week  that the truck was smoking in here??? Him: I told him to check everything because we were going on a trip.   Me: (on phone trying to find a place where we can pull over and get the smoking truck fixed. We end up camping in someone's field while the truck is in the shop 3 days, to the tune of $1500 repair that we knew was a problem before we left but he argued passionately there was no need to take it in any earlier so we could have observed whether it had been repaired. And half of this story has been left out because it is just too unbelievable.)