My wife (non-ADHD) and I have been struggling through miscommunications and blow-ups for most of our 7-year marriage. If things aren't at rock-bottom right now then I don't know what to call this. I've tried to take a step back to reflect and think hard about this, and I know that the next two steps have to be (1) identifying and working on my own feelings and self-love, and (2) showing empathy, listening and understanding for her.
The empathy part is where I have fallen down and continue to fall down. Clearly I have to get this right without asking her, because she has enough on her plate. Stressful job, busy schedule, sometimes doesn't take time to meaningfully relax. Resentment about having to be the breadwinner. Her sleep schedule is lagging and things always come up to disrupt it further (if it isn't an argument, it's just other general "life stuff").
The more fragile the state, the more I feel like I'm on a razor's edge in trying to meaningfully reach out. I'd love to hear suggestions or stories from other people here who have the empathy flowing well in their relationship. Here's a bullet list of no-no's that work rarely, but usually trigger anger. Some are clearly dumb or "typical male" things but I'll include anyway. I feel like some other perspective or advice is desperately needed here....
- Words that get interpreted as bossing her around, shutting her down. ("Please calm down so we can talk." "We need a 10-minute break before we get flooded." "Don't worry about it.")
- Telling her what to feel or think, even if couched in an unthinking cliche. ("Don't worry, be happy, it's almost the weekend!" "I really am sorry they did that to you, but at least you could be glad that...")
- Touching on her feelings quickly then jumping to a suggestion. ("That must have really hurt when your sister said that. Maybe you should call her tomorrow night.")
- Coming out of nowhere with a suggestion that she may not have interest or time for. ("It seems to me like you need a change of scenery. We could take our books to the park and read.")
- Offering to help with a task/project that she feels is hers. Even if I try to offer gently, I'm stepping on her, her hobbies, the way she wants to do things. ("Since you have to work so late tonight, I could maybe get some recipe ideas for the party.")
- Giving third party the benefit of the doubt. ("It seems like your co-worker was having just as rough a day as you were. Maybe she didn't really mean it.")
- Putting on rose-colored glasses. ("At least you're working as hard as you can on this." "I'm just glad that you're trying to eat healthier in general. Aren't you?")
- Stating the obvious. Waste of time. If I meant to do a lead-in to a meaningful remark, I'll get angrily cut off before the second half of the sentence. ("You look like you really didn't sleep well, did you--" "I treated you like crap yesterday, even after--" "It sounds to me like you're still upset over this, so maybe I could--")
- Letting a non-angry conversation go on too long, longer than she wanted. Trying carefully to listen also apparently entails me watching the clock for both of us? (Her: "Jeez! I didn't want to waste the whole night venting about this, but now it's 8:00. You know how much I have to get done this week.")