Why can he stop cold turkey when I get hurt?

This isn't really a conflict around household tasks, but I had no idea where to put it.  Now keep in mind both the events I am talking about were pre-diagnosis so neither of us really had any idea that he wasn't just being messy and disorganized and he just needed to 'try harder'.

1.  Cabinets left open--now I have read the other threads and realize this is ADD behavior, but again no idea back then.  When we were first married we had a postage stamp sized kitchen and our washer/dryer was in a hallway with cabinets over where they were set up.  These cabinets frustrated me the most when he would leave them open because the hallway was already small and near our back door so sometimes I would bump into them just coming inside or whatever.

We were still in the 'honeymoon phase' so I remember asking him several times to please shut the cabinet doors and getting a "Sure Babe, so sorry I forgot again".  It never caused any anger or anything.  It was just baffling then and I guess still today.  What would possess you to leave every cabinet door open?  He still has no idea.

Anyway, one day I was doing laundry and didn't notice around my load of laundry that he'd left the cabinet door open  and gouged my head fairly hard right on the corner of that cupboard.  It hurt, and it bled, and that time I got really firm with him about these cabinets in a "what the heck is wrong with you" kinda tone--was probably the first time (unfortunately not the last :( )  I can't remember if he was home when it happened or if he came in while my head was just stopping bleeding, but I remember dabbing my head with a towel while he apologized PROFUSELY.

But here is the odd part now that we know he has ADD--  HE NEVER EVER AGAIN LEFT THAT CABINET DOOR OPEN...which if the shock of having hurt me corrected all the leaving cabinets open behavior that would make more sense to me, but it was only that ONE SET OF CABINETS other cabinets not associated with hurting me......wide open.  And he still leaves them open.  It isn't a source of conflict anymore.  I just tell him that I know exactly what he cooked or did in the kitchen based on the cabinets and drawers still open when I walk in the kitchen lol

Then something similar happened again several years later.

2.  We'd been married 5 years at this point and he was driving me straight up a wall with walking in the front door and just walking out of his shoes.........RIGHT IN THE PATH anyone else would have to use to walk through our living room....or into our bedroom.  Right where various rooms would meet, there was often a pair of his shoes directly in the way.  Now this house was bigger and open floor plan, so there were plenty of other options for his shoes, but into the walkway they went.   And his excuse when I asked, nagged, yelled, etc was 'I am just going to walk back into them when I need to go outside' like that justified them being in the way.

And I KNOW other husbands do both of these things.  Husbands who as far as I know do not have ADD, so I am sure some of it is just gender or different mind sets or not noticing mess........whatever.

But I really really really wanted his shoes out of the walkways of the house, and no matter how I asked it didn't happen.  Then I broke my foot and it wasn't a bad break but there was a problem with its location and the specialist ideally wanted to put a pin in it, which I adamantly didn't want since we were travelling to Europe in 2 weeks.  The compromise was to keep all weight off of it for 2 weeks and if the next X-ray didn't show any running of the break, we wouldn't do surgery, but if it did, I had to have surgery 3 days before we left for our vacation trip-of-a-lifetime.  We were being beyond careful, but then one day I am making my way around on my crutche, and I TRIP over his darn shoes and fell down hard. 

I wasn't really hurt but it scared the crap out of both of us because of how important it was that this break not get any worse.  Europe in a boot was infinitely better than Europe just out of surgery.

I kid you not TO THIS DAY there has never been another pair of shoes left in a walkway.  I have set up more ADD friendly options for him today, but back them we were still 1-2 years pre diagnosis and still NEVER EVER AGAIN.  And honestly the little shoe rack I have inside the front door still isn't somewhere he regularly puts his shoes himself (though I put them there), he just walks in and takes them off and neatly moves them out of the way.

So here is my theory:  I read that there is a real problem in an ADD brain getting things out of short term memory and into long term memory, and maybe the shock/fear/guilt he felt when these things happened enabled that thought to be implanted deeply into his long term memory.  Because this is not hit or miss behavior like habits that he is working on --this is faithful every time never-screw-up-that--item again.  We don't have many of those in our quest for behavior tweaking, as I am sure a lot of the rest of you experience too.

These kinds of things......where sweeping change is possible......are part of what is so baffling about ADD to me.  I KNOW it can be done, but I sure don't know how to actually induce a change.  It seems to have a lot to do with how important an item is in his brain.......not how important he says it is because that doesn't really cause change to happen, but if something can prevail on him to change his thinking from 'this doesn't matter' to 'this is VERY important' it is like a switch flips and he gets it done.  Anyone else have any experience with this phenomenon?  I don't even think those are the only examples though they are the ones that came to mind when I was reading an ADD workbook the other day about long and short term memory.  I am sure there are other examples too.

One he hurt my feelings really badly about 3 years into our marriage & then made it worse when we realized he said it deliberately to be passive aggressive.  I'd said something to him that hurt his feelings, he didn't tell me a thing, but then 'got back at me' later even though I didn't realize I'd done anything.  I was so upset that I started crying (and I am not a big crier and it was probably the first time he'd made me cry).  He was shocked when he realized what he'd done & as we talked he realized he'd always had that tendency.  He thinks it was being small for his age and from a different culture, so he took a lot of teasing in 1 school he went to, so he felt to get back at ppl he had to be sneaky about it. 

But as soon as he realized it, I believe he pretty much stopped with all passive aggressive behavior cold turkey too.  He said he hated what he realized about his personality and he was embarrassed about it and that he WOULD change it.  I am not joking at all, maybe 1-2 other times in 7+ years we've been married have I even seen a glimmer of this personality trait which had to have been internalized at some point as it was the way he dealt with many things (most notably his parents and that is where it still comes in a little), but he just cut it out so quickly that I was amazed.  I have been working on perfectionism way longer than he has been working on anything, and my progress hasn't been that dramatic.

We tease that I need to allow whatever habit is irritating me the most to actually harm me in some way, and then and only then will it be irradicated.  But seriously, Do other ppl have these type of experiences and how does it track with ADD and the idea that we have to accept things because they just 'can't' change?  Because we definitely still are working our way through tweaking ADD behaviors....and I still have cabinets open all over my kitchen after he cooks but I just tell myself 'at least he cooks' and I walk around my kitchen closing the doors.  So even long after the conflict is over about a particular behavior, that doesn't seem to help it stop.

Ideas for what causes this?  Maybe how we could leverage it into other changes?  Or is it seriously just about the actual pain that he never wants to be part of causing?  He genuinely has one of the best hearts out there--probably better than mine though it embarrasses me to admit it!