What belongs on the list to measure progress?

My ADHD husband claims he is working hard and is frustrated that I don't give him credit for his accomplishments. He also claims he doesn't want to bother working at this because he has no guarantee I will stay with him after he works so hard.  This last bit seems almost like he is attempting to induce guilt -  however, it is not working. 

I am continually frustrated at things that don't change.  An example, he believes he is not angry all the time  yet I see him angry all the time.

How the heck do we measure the progress?   



I've had to learn to over praise the little things

This is the #1 issue with mine and my hubby's marriage. He thinks that he is trying very hard and doing a lot, where I see that some much more could be accomplished and that he really isn't trying.

What I am starting to realize that in his brain he really is trying and he really is doing as much as he can. Although I see his daily accomplishments as a failure in comparassion to what should have been completed, he relishes in the fact that he completed half or a quarter of his "honey do list".

Now, I verbally "reward" all the stuff he does do versus complaining or nitpicking what he has done. Example--->Yesterday he cleaned up the backyard. He knows that a messy and dirty backyard drives me nuts! He normally has tools, plants and plain junk and trash everywhere. So yesterday he picked it up and although it isn't what I would call complete, I still praised the heck out of what he accomplished. Sure our backyard still has weeds, dirt and trash in various places....it still is no where from complete or what I would have accomplished but it's the fact that he attempted and completed most of what he should have in the backyard.

^BUT...that is not the point. The point is that they already feel like failures in most of their life's attempts. My hubby doesn't need me telling him where he didn't measure up and where he could have done better. My DH needs to be reassured that what he did accomplish was a good job and that I appreciate his hard work. <---After all, in his mind it was hard work and took him a long time.

So now, I've learned to appreciate the little things and little progress. If you look hard it's there. AND positive reinforcement goes a long way with ADHD partners....nagging, belittling and frustration causes the ADHD partner to shut down.


I&#039;m So Exhausted's picture

The gears of that cog have been worn off

True, it always works better to encourage than to discourage.  I am on a seasaw that is so out of balance, it is honestly hard to muster up the want-to.  I certainly see the mother-child communication factor I have used to respond to his poor behavior.  This is a marriage, and I really need something back in return.  I tried to give him the visual word-picture of how I feel:  Picture a house plant in a pot, the soil in hard and dried, all the plants' leaves have dried up and fallen off, and all that is left is the shriveled up vines, hanging uselessly  over the edges of the pot.  It is extremely hard to function in a marriage if your spouse is not figuratively watering and tending to you.  I do take it personally - feeling that if I don't take care of myself, no one else will.  I suppose I could learn to not take it personally if AT LEAST the poor behavior was acknowledged - or an apology was given.  His defensiveness is too strong.

Progress is REALLY hard to measure...

I'm the ADDer 2.5 years post diagnosis. My experience was that I felt so much better, so soon and was amazed at how much easier it was to function that I felt it Must be Obvious to everyone around me. "Obvious" to the previously "Oblivious" ADDer, kind of funny, right? I was also upset that my DW did not "Seem" to notice any differences in my behavior, but I eventually came to the conclusion that "Perception is Everything" and once this is created, it takes a long time for new behaviors to be consistent enough to set the "New Perception". I know my DW just figured my study of ADD was my latest hyperfocus and that the "Real Me" would be back shortly.

I also feared that my ADD discovery could have come too late. Low self-esteem and fear of failing is huge is the ADD mindset. My personality Never presented these things to the outside world because it would be showing weakness and I could be discovered to be the fraud I felt that I was. Anger too... I never realized how much I had suppressed, other than I used to have bad Road Rage, much better these days although I do get annoyed with rude drivers.

Don't feel like you need to give "Pats on the Back" all the time, because I now realize the way my ADD affected my DW. Measure progress by him seeking help, finding the right meds and working on re-learning new coping skills. There are many here who can help you work through this thing. You cannot fix your spouse, only he can do that.

2.5 years later I know I'm better and I continue to work at this, but the jury is still out.


I&#039;m So Exhausted's picture

1 out of 3 make it difficult to do the dance of joy

1.  My spouse wouldn't go to his counselor because "You won't go with me, it's not all me you know."

2.  He is accepting meds - but really still thinks that they will soon fix him and he won't need to keep taking them.

3.  He refuses to re-learn anything.  He does it all himself, because there is only one perfect way to do things, the most-perfect-way, which is - of course - his way.

After 15 years of reading, learning, educating myself, and working alongside my son, I know it doesn't have to be this way.  I really have needs for understanding, acceptance, and acknowledgement of the things I add to our relationship.

This is why I need something tangible, something I can see, or at least a doctor or counselor to point out the progress. 

Having been in Al-Anon for years, I have a clear concept on the fact I can't change him nor make him do anything.  I am in self-protection mode right now.  I do not like what I have become in the recent months.   My behavior - in response to his actions - can be shameful. 

I have always been putting the power on his side, telling him he had better choose - a life with me - or a life without me.  I am at the point where I am no longer giving that power to him.  He can choose to address and acknowledge the issues that ADHD cause in our mariage, or I have to live by myself.

1 out of 3

Sounds like your DH does not want to accept the full affects that ADD has on your lives. I understand the fear, but I'd rather have real answers, then I can work on a solution. The meds certainly help me, but you can Never stop taking them because they work while in your system and stop when they are gone. Not to mention the fact that like many drugs, it can be really bad to suddenly stop taking them. Re-learning things can only be done when you understand why you developed the coping mechanism in the first place, then see how the mechanism can be negatively affecting your life, then figure out a more productive way to deal with things.

After 15 years of learning about ADD I can sure understand why you are frustrated. I hope things get better for you soon.


Maybe when he SEEMS angry to

Maybe when he SEEMS angry to you, you can say "this behavior/attitude feels to me like you are angry, am I reading that wrong? are you angry?" and point it out as it is happening? Maybe it would just help to talk things through as they are happening and if he gets angrier or defensive then just end the conversation and suggest you discuss it later. Another suggestion is to say "I know you are working hard, I do not want you to feel that it will be all for nothing. I want us to work through this together, and I believe that if we both try we can make it work. Would you mind if I bring it to your attention when I feel you are 'angry' so we can maybe identify where the difference in perception is?" This is most likely an issue of perception. If he isn't FEELING angry, then to him he isn't angry...even if his tone or attitude say something different to you.


Yes, that's a terrific idea.  Over the years before I learned about ADHD we developed kind of a code phrase when my husband was treating me like crap.  I'd say Are you feeling okay?  Years ago, he'd say yeah.  Or Yeah, why?  And I'd say, I thought you might have a headache or something because you seem really crabby at me.  Then he'd either adjust his attitude or admit what was bothering him.    The only time the question "are you feeling okay?" bothers him is when he actually IS angry but hasn't said so.  If he's just being oblivious to his attitude or behavior, then the question reminds him and he corrects his behavior.  All seems a little obfuscated and round-a-bout but remember I'm dealing with a guy who can't / won't discuss or learn about ADHD.   I'm recommending Sherri's suggestion NOT my method. ;) 

summerwine's picture

I like this. People think I

I like this. People think I am angry when I am not. It happens a lot. But I am just frustrated or annoyed or concentrating. I guess I make funny faces when I am thinking. My son asks me if I am mad and I say No I am thinking really hard! And he says my thinking face looks like I am mad! I guess I have to smile more.

I&#039;m So Exhausted's picture

Such a revelation

Thanks for this piece of information!  I asked my spouse about this.  It seems that his frustration/low-self-esteem/disappointment look like anger.  He told me he doesn't feel the anger on the inside - so when I see what appears as anger, I will specifically ask him if he is angry.  This is a concept I can't wait to try out!