I'm not really sure where to start here; and I'll keep it as short as I can. My husband and I have been together for almost 10 years now. He had ADHD when I met him and was largely under medicated and completely under treated. A few years ago he made the independent choice to work with his doctor to get medicated in a way that worked for him. Since then we've made great strides together. ADHD has never exactly been the focal point of arguments and tension but it does tend to be lurking in most arguments we have. I bought The Couples Guide to Thriving With ADHD a few months ago. Once I finished it I asked if my husband would like to look at it. He said he would and is slowly working through it now as well as far as I know. Every now and then he'll excitedly tell me about something he's read and how he things we can apply it. It's wonderful. This has been helping to eliminate many of the issues we didn't realize were connected to ADHD in our relationship.
Recently household chores are becoming huge problems though. House cleaning has always been a hard one for us in general. I think it's lucky I'm not much of a clean freak. So the messy nature of our home isn't world ending for me. In fact, if the mess is "clean" (as in no health concerns, minimal dust bunnies, no mold on anything) I don't mind at all. What does bother me is the extent it gets to and why. I'd like to explain; my husband is a kind and wonderful person. He doesn't like seeing me flit around the house and take on the chores alone. But his ADHD is severe and he finds himself playing video games while I clean instead. This doesn't often bother me; though sometimes it does and will lead to tension - but not often. His current inability to focus and help me clean the house does bother him though; and that leads to self inflicted guilt and then outbursts at times. Sometimes those outbursts catch me off guard and I react unfairly and the argument is off the races. Though we're lucky here too - they rarely get intentionally hurtful.
The most recent solution he's asserted to this problem is asking me to please leave him a task or two when I decide to clean. Because his ADHD makes looking at a messy room and finding the correct place for the items strewn about it a frustrating process; we agreed that I would leave him things in the kitchen. This way he can do the dishes or clear the counters, all items are either garbage or belong in the kitchen itself (or can be put on a table for me to go through later) and everyone would seem to win. This brings us to my issues; what is wearing me out.
Right now, as I type this, almost all of our commonly used dishes are dirty in my kitchen sink. We have a dishwasher - it's full of clean dishes. The last three times I've cleaned I've let him know I'm going to clean the house. Ask if he'd like to join me. He's said no, which is acceptable based the new system we are trying. So I let him know I would be leaving the dishes for him to do when he could. And for the third time I find myself faced with the choices of A). asking him to please hold up his end of the deal for a third time and potentially lead us into more tension around cleaning. B). take care of the dishes myself because they are bothering me (and I believe I'm responsible for my own happiness and comfort - not him). This I could do; but past experience raises some caution - this has caused arguments or hurt feelings in the past as well). Or C). I can sit him down, remind him of the agreement we have, and ask him if a new plan should be made. This has also caused hurt feelings and tension in the past.
Truthfully, I don't like to clean either. I understand I'm able to push through that more easily than he can for very valid reasons. While I don't mind the house messy things like dishes and taking out the garbage go beyond messes in my mind. These are dirt problems and I do like to live in a clean environment.
I'm feeling very stuck right now. I'm proud of both of us for working as hard as we have to improve our disagreements. We take a break and revisit the discussion when things are getting too heated, recently put a trigger word in place to tell each other we need to step back, we both make an effort to maintain respect through disagreement at all times, all that jazz. But I'm finding I'm feeling almost helpless within this discussion structure. My focused intent not to cause, prolong, or exasperate an argument will often leave me silently shouldering a lot of our responsibilities. Which is not say my husband doesn't contribute. He does.
I'd like to be clear here; I think this is my issue not his. The dishes in my sink are his issue; we've made a plan, we both agreed to it, it hasn't worked, he's resisted changing the plan and resists following it. In my eyes this is something for him to work on. My hesitance and anxiety about approaching him and telling him this is how I feel is my issue. And I'm unsure how I can get past it.
I guess I'm posting for two reasons: I'd love to see any thoughts/ideas/proven methods others may have for this kind of struggle over household chores. I'm sure there are many approaches I'm simply not seeing and one of them will work; eventually. I'm also wondering if anyone might have tips as far as communicating my frustrations to my husband in a way that may avoid him feeling overly guilty? Many times (not every time) we'll sit down and try to make plans or set up systems that might help us and he feels guilt over us having to do this. That guilt leads to a defensive attitude and I react very unfairly and things spiral. I feel like there must be a way to communicate with him when I'm feeling overwhelmed without us both reacting unfairly to the other.