Since my marriage took a turn for the worse last year, the one refrain that keeps coming up a lot from my wife is that she's "done trying" and it's up to me to show that I can put in the effort. I can understand why she'd be at the end of her rope, and I try to put across that I hear that and respect that. So it's on me to make my own goal list and start kicking some butt, right? But it puts me in knots to read about things the non-ADHD spouse could and should do to help save the relationship, like:
- Separate the spouse from the symptoms
- Learn to empathize (any remarks about my own feelings earns the reply, "It's all about you again!")
- Try laughing at mistakes sometimes
- Know what things your spouse is not good at and build around that
- Forgiveness as a first step to trying differently
- Accept that their partner will always have ADHD
- Work out verbal cues and stick to them
- Open up about their own deep feelings or their anger
To hear my wife say that makes me afraid that none of these things will happen unless I can really wow her first with big, prolonged improvement. The last 18 months have shown that I just keep slipping. Does anyone have their own experiences or advice in this area.... how to ask my partner to shift a viewpoint a bit or take a tiny step for the benefit of both of us working out our issues?
Submitted by NonADHD on
I disagree, look, there’s no rush, just Urgency. Look, your wife is where she is at because of the symptoms that you have been diagnosed with, I’m sorry to say it John but that’s a fact. My wife has ADHD and she has some of the major symptoms though she is in denial. Don’t be in DENIAL, accept it. Have you been diagnosed with ADHD? It’s awesome that you’re trying. You may need to keep a journal or write down a schedule. Go slow but be consistent and don’t watch her expecting something fast. You need to commit to making serious changes or you may lose this marriage and I’m not sure if this is your first. Are you spiritual, believe in faith, if so, start getting serious and do this for her. Treat your wife with love. I hope you’re capable of true love, you did in the beginning. Start showing her that you do love her. Subtle at first until you see a change in her demeanor, like talking more or saying something in response to what you did. Go slow, but change for you, for your marriage. Just by putting up the things the non-ADHD spouse should do shows you’re on the defensive, you’re angry, AT WHAT ???? A woman who loves you and you’re driving her out the door. STOP THE INSANITY and accept your cognitive abnormal diagnosis. Grow up !! Treat this woman who has cared for you, loves you but is now so confused about your love for her. A woman wants to be woood, treated with love. Do you remember what she likes, flowers, cards, chocolate ???? Do something and stop being a selfish deer in the headlights. Like the Beatles song, “You’re Gonna Lose that Girl”….and someone else will get her…
Wow, I definitely appreciate
Submitted by JohnWilson on
Wow, I definitely appreciate the perspective on that, Doug. It's true that I have been diagnosed and I accept that. Once I was in denial about not needing medication, but as of 2012 I got over that. I think my anger is the tricky part, you're right. I've been angry at myself for failing so much lately, and often I just bury it or wrap it up in something else. I've been angry about my wife - the rage she has shown and the awful things she's said. I can sit and wish that she'd get a grip on her anger, but really it's my symptoms that are the root cause.
I guess another way of putting it, though, is that we each have changes to make on the path to a better marriage. We owe it to each other to communicate about those changes as we go. Whatever changes she might have to make, maybe it's not my place to spell it out or point to a page in a book. I'm the one who has "committed to change" so many times in the past and come out wrong. Just have to keep trying to work on my own self and keep in my mind the old feelings I had for her...
Submitted by NonADHD on
Out of all the advice I got from so many different people, in this forum and friends and even my mother in law, the best advice is to "work on me" first and completely. John, you can't change her now, but trust me, if you do this right, she will. If your marriage is worth it to you, like mine is to me, then you will do what you need to. But remember, control your emotions and especially your anger. ADHD is an inhibition to regulate emotions, as you know, that means ADHD doesn't regulate emotions. ADHD can go from sweet and gentle, to explode with rage in less time it takes to cook an egg. In the normal world, that's not normal. Once you do start, then work hard as hell to control your anger. One way is to be extremely aware of when your mind is going there and stop it. John, think of all the time you wasted and ruined your marriage and your life, not to mention hers. Come on man !!! When my wife explodes into a rage it;s such a shame, and sad to see such a beautiful woman that way, it erodes my desire for her. Then the ADHD, takes hold of her and it takes a while to get her back. So don't be a fool. Imagine how worse it would be if you had something that is killing you besides your own stupidity. Turn this around and be the Man she thought you would be and not just another asterisk in the DSM V. Everyone of us has something that's not operating right, it does not give you the excuse to ABUSE a woman. Yes, she may be angry, all of us non-ADHD spouses are but we're here to support you and love you. We don't need the harassement, criticism or tantrums either. Good luck John, at least you are concerned. Now, like me, go slow and get your marriage on track. You have the responsibility as the husband to do that. It's time to step up to the plate. I am !!!!
Submitted by fausto412 on
As the wife of a husband with
Submitted by AliceInBraids on
As the wife of a husband with ADHD, I'm going to guess your marriage has been a bit of a roller coaster? I say I'm "done trying" sometimes too, but that's not really what's in my heart. There aren't words for what is going on inside me when I say that. Due to the back and forth nature of my marriage I really have no security and most of my emotional reserves have been tapped. My husband is a good man but his ADHD has devoured me. I will never truly be "done trying" but there are many times that the pain, anger, loneliness and frustration cause me to shut down. Please remember that she is literally unable to understand how your mind works. It affects her in ways you will never be able to fully understand, just as she will never be able to fully understand what YOU are going through. And this is not either of your faults, it is simply reality. Give her some time, and work on yourself. I am at the point where my husbands words don't mean much, his actions mean everything. You will backslide and mess up, you will never be perfect but it can get SO much better. Work toward making yourself happy first and as you change, so will she. I promise. She's protecting herself.
Edited to add: I could not agree more with John! Well said. My husbands anger DOMINATES our life and makes me lose respect and attraction for him. Because I do not feel emotionally or mentally safe around him. And then that gets mixed with guilt, confusion, sadness etc.. But I am not 'allowed' to feel these things or he feels 'attacked'. So how do you heal from feelings you can't express in a cycle that doesn't end?
"So how do you heal from
Submitted by fausto412 on
"So how do you heal from feelings you can't express in a cycle that doesn't end?"
I'm the adhd one and I have been dealing with this question myself...my answer would be you have to understand your role in the cycle.
I'm accused of anger all the time.... sometimes I'm pushed to the edge...I don't act this way alone or with my friends and I think if she would begin to see what I now see we can stop and be more aware. Having the one with the poor impulse control and emotional control trying to accomplish this task alone is really impossible. I own all my mistakes at this point and I"m sorry for all of them. When will she finally see that the power struggles and escalations don't happen without her participation? I'm not blaming her...it is both of us...what I mean is she wants me to fix myself meanwhile she continues the save patterns and behaviors.
What is my role in the cycle? I react to her reactions or actions/comments. So I have to hold myself to higher standard.
If I knew what I know now 10 years ago I think we both would have been happier but I'm just now piecing it together. She has done damage to...but she thinks her damage pales in comparison to mine. My number 1 goal right now is to avoid arguing and keep things light. She still tries to hook me into an argument and sometimes succeeds and then throws it in my face that I don't change.
Are you me?
Submitted by LateDiagnosis on
i mean, seriously. This is my exact story. Thank God I'm not alone.
John, I say that I am done
Submitted by notgonnalosemyself (not verified) on
John, I say that I am done trying every day also because it allows myself to not set myself up for disappointment. All the things you listed are things I have tried time and time again and still we are in the same spot as always except we are older now. After 26 years together, it gets old and depletes the non-ADHDer of effort and energy. We are not perfect and certainly do have limits as well. My husband will not get help and he is very proud so this is it for me. I know that unless he realizes it, things will be the same. You wife may not leave but leaving is not always physical, its emotional too and even if she loves you and wants to make it work, the symptoms do destroy. I feel neglected, ignored, not listened to, unloved especially since he can go a whole day not talking to me, doesn't respond to my text messages, if he is making a bad decision and I try help him out, he doesn't listen, he has a temper, he can't hold a job while I work FT, and lately doesn't even touch me or kiss me, all these things, although symptomatic of him, are not part of my idea of an awesome marriage I was promised. If I think about this too hard and take it personally, I feel undesirable and I know that is not the case. So I have to deal with all these horrible feelings and ALSO be 100% understanding and compassionate? It can be hard. So it is hard to think that this is all I have and that is why I put up the wall of protection and I am doing less and less daily for him since I get nothing in return most the time. So, remember that your story is NOT her story and just as she can be compassionate and stay with you doesn't mean you don't have to do your part. I wish you the best. Much love.
Is there any good and
Submitted by JohnWilson on
Foul! No Excuse...Completely Unacceptable!
Submitted by kellyj on
Under no circumstance should you tolerate your spouse striking you in any part of your body....period!! No matter how angry or mad she at you for anything you've done. No matter how bad it is.....under no circumstances is this acceptable behavior by anyones standards.....any where....at any time. No way....no how. End of story.
You have every right to tell her to desist and refrain immediately! If she doesn't. Call 911. Striking you even if you are a man is still against the law! If she hasn't learned that by now.....she needs to learn the hard way.
Are you kidding me? Really? Do you need to be respectful? How about with EXTREME PREJUDICE......that would be more fitting.
A wimp or coward would hit her back. It takes a real man to admit it and call the cops and not feel embarrassed to do so. With extreme prejudice! A coward is the person who hides behind the shield of gender for protection and knowing they won't get caught. There's a word for this......Bully.
I could take my wife down in a heart beat and she wouldn't be coming back up for a while. Do you think I ever even think about this or even have to think about not doing it let alone....actually doing it? The only person who has anything to be ashamed of is your wife. End of story.
I appreciate the perspective,
Submitted by JohnWilson on
I appreciate the perspective, but telling her to desist completely, or calling the cops, or saying the word "shameful", or calling her a bully, or saying that it hurts, these are not acceptable. This is making is all about me, which is a big foul at this point in the marriage.
The focus has to be on her, the things that upset her, and how they can be ameliorated NOW. That has been made very clear many times. I am trying; I continue to try every morning and evening. Sometimes it feels like a long list of errands and chores with no emotional/spiritual/marital oomph behind it. I wish I had some feedback from the other end to show me what's up when she isn't explosively angry.
Yet, I would really like to drill down on this one little thing, though, and make it clear that it is a small step she could take now that will benefit both of us. But by saying this I don't want to become a bully, or act like I know better than her.
I Do Understand Your Position John
Submitted by kellyj on
...and calling the cops is at the extreme end. My adamant response was not to give you advise or tell you how to manage your situation. The point in me saying what I said was due to your hesitation in thinking she even had the right to do so and questioning ( if it was even alright) to respectfully ask her to stop hitting you in the face only. I guess what I am trying to impress on you is that you are feeling she has the right to abuse you and she doesn't. Just because you have ADHD does not give anyone the right to abuse you and hitting you at all is abuse. You shouldn't even question this for a split second and wonder if it is Okay at all.
What you do with that is your business.....my main concern is for your thought process thinking that this is somehow Okay? Personally.....I wouldn't recommend you call the cops either in that you might be putting your personal situation in the hands of the law and taking both of your choices away from you and leaving that up to the government.
The point again....is in her thinking that this is Okay.....and you questioning if it is? Adamantly.....not!
I suppose the only way that she could justify hitting you.....was if you have hit her back...or the both of you are hitting each other. If that's the case.....my point is moot.
But I stand firmly on solid ground in saying if either one of you hit each other ( and the other one doesn't)....that person should be ashamed. This is shameful on all accounts and someone who hides behind a shield of protection or takes unfair advantage of their status, physical strength or for any other reason that immune them from being caught, prosecuted or retaliation or otherwise while abusing by force or violence is a bully and a coward in my book and it shouldn't be tolerated for a second.
Would it be any different if you did the same thing to her? Think about it. It always works both ways whether by statute or otherwise. It's the principal more than anything....not how much it physically hurts. If you don't think this is damaging to you psychologically and attacking you in the most egregious way.....think again
One of my closest friends is a Fighter Pilot in the Air Guard. In training they made them endure one day of a mock capture by enemy forces. He said.....they no longer use physical torture on prisoners because they have found that physical pain can be quickly over come and is not an effective way of interrogating. Mental torture however.....can be perpetrated for years and the effects do not ever diminish and is now the preferred method of torturing prisoners of war because it is far more damaging over the long run.
My friend said it was the one of the worst days he had ever experienced and they didn't hurt a hair on his body. The fear of physical pain and violation is far greater than the pain itself. It comes later not at the time.
I have to respectfully disagree and will leave it right there.
Submitted by NonADHD on
I get that as well from my wife. The anger and rage that is directed at us requires hitting. They want you to do reciprocate in some way to justify their tantrum. When my wife gets there, I make it clear to tell her DO NOT HIT. Don't feel like a wimp, I told my wife go ahead and smack me, get it out, you will never get me to be that angry. I was raised to respect woman, not control or hit, NEVER !! I read that these outbursts from woman creates a masculine effect. My wife gets more masculine then me when she is raging. I'm 6'2 and 230 ibs. I'm in excellent shape, so I tell her, if you were a guy it would very different. I think they have no control over their emotional explosion. So remind her, DO NOT HIT.
Submitted by Delphine on
I agree. HItting is unacceptable. Period! Allowing this is tantamount to telling her, "Bring it on, honey." Yes, my signature is about acceptance, but in this case, I'd say it means accepting that steps must be taken to ensure this doesn't happen again.
I appreciate the thoughts
Submitted by JohnWilson on
I appreciate the thoughts guys, but after this past weekend it's clear that I do not have the right to ask not to be hit. It isn't manly to ask that, it's focusing on the absolute wrong thing, and it makes me sound so much better than her, which I clearly am not. My emotional abuse of her is much much worse than anything she may do to me, I am told. She will not accept being wrong about one thing (handling anger) when there are hundreds of things I have done wrong, and obviously haven't taken responsibilty for, because I still mess up.
I really am trying to hold on to the memories of when it was just crying, holding hands, maybe slamming a door. I thought I made a few inches of progress in the last couple days, but then a blow-up happens when I forget something or misunderstand a question. Then it's time to sit there and take it again. I wish I knew something else to say, but it's obviously not time for words, just for me to keep striving and trying.
Submitted by kellyj on
I understand the dilemma this puts you in....but in a very real and accurate way of looking at this.....this is my life too coming from an ADHD perspective. I do share the same dilemma in other words so I am (or have been where you are before (many times throughout my life).
You can't force someone to think differently about something that they believe is true. If you believe something (in your heart of hearts ) then you believe it and no one is going to tell you otherwise. You might do something that you don't believe is the best or right way to do something in order to go along of to integrate yourself into or with what other people want that goes contrary or is a compromise between their beliefs and your own.....but having a firm handle in what you believe in is required first in order to do this and that's where the problem exists.....
What is most concerning is what you said here "My emotional abuse of her is much much worse than anything she may do to me."
There are so many problems with this statement....I don't know were to begin? But the most glaring and problematic thing within it.....is the fact that you believe these things yourself and I think that is the biggest problem of all? That last statement is a rationalization on your wife's part. Basically saying....it's an excuse for hitting you which she knows is wrong but is trying to justify it to you that way.
And you are believing her excuse? There IS no excuse she can use to justify her behavior? It what world or alternative Universe is this true? None.....don't you understand that? She is in the wrong 100% here not you. She's not taking any responsibility for her actions and making you 100% responsible for everything. Can you not see this?
She is the abuser here not you John.....I'm sorry....I can't see this any other way? Even if you've been abusive to her and you know it....two wrongs as they say? No two ways about it?
Somehow.....you've convinced yourself that what your wife has told you is true and you believed it?
Somehow.....you've got it in your head that you deserve to be abused and it's perfectly alright for others to abuse you John? Why is that?
And somehow.....you owe your wife something and you are indebted to her which allows you no room for error or any grace on her part and gives her the right to be abusive to you. Why? Delphine is absolutely right.....you are saying...."Abuse is Okay and I'm fine with Abuse in our relationship....by simply allowing it and not saying anything or standing up for what you beleive in.
I wish I knew something else to say, but it's obviously not time for words, You just Q and A'd and convinced yourself of something that is only in part true. Only the first part is true "I wish I knew something to say" or rather.....you don' know what or how to say it.....more likely? The answer or the second part is what's not true? Again....according to who? You? Or your wife?
I'd say just the extreme opposite of what your wife says here.....if I were having that conversation with her.....I'd be saying "Excuse me...but isn't tha rather convenient? Telling the person you are hitting that NOW is not the time to discuss hitting other people?" Really? You must think I'm stupid? Are you trying to say it's Okay to hit people as long as you decide it's Okay? Gee.....I think I'll go rob a bank because I'm a little short on cash.....wanna join me?"(wink wink)
" I thought I made a few inches of progress in the last couple days, " "Either you did or you didn't? I think you did and you know it. Take ownership of that and don't base how you feel about yourself on anyone else. If you've done good......you don't need anyone else to tell you that. If they agree....that's a nice validation to hear but if you haven't validated yourself first or need to hear that in from someone else in order to feel validated.....then something is wrong?
"but then a blow-up happens when I forget something or misunderstand a question." As you worded this.....this sounds like an error or a just a mistake or misunderstanding on your part?
"Then it's time to sit there and take it again." It sounds like you are very eager to take the fall for your entire relationship and everything in it that is wrong is all your fault? No matter what your situation or who you are with......this just can't be? Who decided that....you or her?
It sounds like your wife is only focused on what is wrong and on nothing that is right? That's a bit one sided don't you agree?
I really am trying to hold on to the memories of when it was just crying, holding hands, maybe slamming a door. It's good not to be blind to these things and keep them in the front of your thinking.....but even if your wife cannot forgive you for the mistakes or the times you've failed....I think what is most important here is that you learn to forgive yourself and allow yourself to fail or be human even if no one else does? If you are abusing yourself and how you feel about yourself in this way.....it tells other people that they can abuse you and you think that's Okay too? you will never really know who you are based on what other people tell you based only on their opinions. You do know what opinions are like don't you?
If others have always told you "HOW TO FEEL".....or "WHAT TO BELIEVE".....then you've given up your choice and handed those decisions over to other people including your wife.
This statement .....pretty much says this in other words... "but after this past weekend it's clear that I do not have the right to ask not to be hit." Since when and says who?
John.....if I could reach through the computer and grab you by the shirt collar and shake you and slap you a couple of times to snap you back into reality for a moment I would!!
You have the RIGHT......NOT TO BE HIT PERIOD! Along with everyone else on the planet .....that is, unless YOU say it's OKAY!!!! In the very essence of what I'm trying to say to you.....you ARE saying it OKAY by simply allowing it and believing the very person who is abusing you when they are trying to convince you of this while at the same time...justifying their own failure and mistake and trying to pass their own personal responsibility in this along with their flawed thinking and their failure in this case....off onto to you. And you believe them. This is what you are doing John.
It sounds almost like Stockholm Syndrome where kidnapped victims identify with their captors? (thinking of Patricia Hurst here as I am trying to come up with an example?)
She will not accept being wrong about one thing (handling anger) when there are hundreds of things I have done wrong, and obviously haven't taken responsibility for, because I still mess up."
It's not a competition.... who hurts more, who did it more, who does it less or less severe is irrelevant? If one person robs a gas station and the other one robs a convenience store..... the one who got away with more money after being caught should serve a longer prison sentence? I don't think so?
And why I am saying all this? Because of this tag you wrote here " My emotional abuse of her is much much worse than anything she may do to me, I am told."
This is a projection John. If you understand what a projection is.....it is actually an admission on the other person part in doing the very thing they are accusing you of doing. In other words if I were to say this for your wife
"My physical and emotional abuse of John is much worse than anything emotional abuse John has done to me and I am feeling guilty as hell and I can't stand how I feel about myself for being such a physically abusive person. I feel horrible about myself because of it." In reality.....that's exactly what projection does....it turns what you can't stand about yourself....and put's that onto other people to get rid of that horrible feeling so they can continue to with the same mistreatment of the other person without having to take responsibility for their actions and frees them from any guilt that they MIGHT feel afterwards. This is exactly what your wife is doing whether you believe me or not. Whether you believe me or not.....doesn't make it not true?
Do you really believe these things about yourself and you don't have the right to tell someone not to violate your fundamental human rights?.....Or are you only going on what other people have told you? I don't believe them (or your wife) and think you sound like just the opposite ......like you are genuinely trying because you are probably a reasonably thoughtful person who cares about others not only yourself? Think about it?
I have a suggestion, John.
Submitted by PoisonIvy on
I have a suggestion, John. Stop being a victim. Leave the situation (if that means leaving your marriage, so be it). You do not have to sit there and take it. Doing so is a choice.
Anger, Rage and violence
Submitted by NonADHD on
I go through something very similar. My ADHD wife has a terrible anger problem. She explodes at the drop of a hat and it turns ugly. Can you explain what happens when she does this. My wife will be irritable, critical and defensive in her tone, and this can be at anytime. It comes out of nowhere, and literally within 5 minutes she is screaming, cursing, blaming, throwing me out of the house, throwing things, slamming things, I mean it's unbelievable to watch this. My wife will get out of control, then she slumps in a hysterical heap of hard sobbing, like a child, right on the floor. The words still come out as she strains in her voice, I hate you, over no over. She screams, you always interrupt me, I never get to say anything, you don't love me, over no over crying, sobbing, voice straining. There is nothing that I can do. Then it's over, and the silent fog sets in. It traps us, it sends her way from me and I'm standing alone. I'm at my mother in laws home now for the weekend because she had one of her explosions on Wednesday when I walked through the door right after bible study. It doesn't matter what our personal life struggles are, I think ADHD cannot handle stress very well. Any thoughts?
Try laughing at mistakes sometimes
Submitted by overwhelmedwife on
Try laughing at mistakes sometimes
We do laugh at mistakes...until they are costly in time or treasure. We both laugh at the sillier mistakes that H has made because of his ADHD (like accidentally drinking a red colored cleaning liquid because he didnt look closely and thought it was red punch). BUT....what if it had been truly toxic? And what if he had accidentally fed it to a child?
And what about the times that H's hyper-focus has caused him to "not pay attention" to things around him and he put a big dent in the car costing over $1000 in damages? Are we supposed to just laugh at stuff like that?
All spouses need to respect each other's talents and "lack of talents". We don't expect someone with 2 left feet to be a fabulous dancer. We don't expect someone who hates cooking to be a great gourmet chef. However, simply "not liking" cleaning up after oneself is not an excuse to be a slob or to expect others to be a personal slave-maid.