I just received the ADHD Effect on Marriage book and started it last night, after seeing it recommended on an ADHD family support FB group, and visited the website this morning.
I wrote to inquire about potential counseling (if it is an available option for us), and wanted to share my message to the forum as well.
I chose this forum, but honestly I think it hits points for multiple of them- it addresses multiple ADHD/relationship topics.
But here we go. My little novel. If you make it to the end, I apologize for the length, but even trying to summarize it grew & grew.
Much love and good vibes to you and yours! ~
I'm just visiting your website for the first time, and started your book ADHD Effect on Marriage last night, after seeing it recommended in an ADHD Support facebook group.
I was excited to see you may offer counseling, if you have the availability and we're accepted to do so.
The long and short of it: I just moved in with my boyfriend, now fiance, of about 2 years just 3 months ago. He proposed right before we moved in together.
I knew he had issues with procrastination and cleanliness (his place was a disaster, his own hygiene often gets put on a back burner, and everything will get done "later"), but, I knew before he got divorced and we met, he held well paying jobs and he was really good at them. He's very smart.
I support/ed him when he decided to stop working, in order to work on his own project, as he had saved $ for that very reason before we met. I hope it works out wonderfully for him and is successful, and say go for it! He saved his money for it, his choice!
But, now 7 months after his original "deadline" to be done with it, then revised timeline to have a working test and being far from it, I have new concerns... but still support it in general. (And I told him before we moved in together, 'Im not saying this is YOU, it's not, but as a general statement, I will say, I will NOT be the idiot who moves in with an unemployed partner, and then is asked to help financially because of it!) He has mentioned maybe needing to get a job soon so he doesn't deplete his funds, which makes me sad as it'll further push back his progress, but if he decides to, I support that, too. Of course.
We split the bills, I work full time, and he uses his savings.
Now this is where things get sticky.
After we moved in together, he got diagnosed, and started Adderall, for ADHD. He didn't have an in-person thorough exam, but to my knowledge it was more like visiting a prescription pad online; but, he def checks the boxes for the symptoms and realized that himself. He sought the diagnosis and medication, himself. Compared to stories I've read, that in itself it already a huge GREEN flag (if that were a thing).
But, from my perspective/feelings, moving in together immediately lead to a LOT of changes, and it's been a LOT to take.
He went from the generous, sweet, caring, smart, and funny guy to a frequently rude and crass individual that I also feel I can't rely on or believe his words when he says he'll do things (physical things like going through his boxes, or communication like that I can always talk to him).
We used to sit together on his couch when we watched tv and he'd rub my head or shoulders or feet, on his own accord. I'd sit by him or lay on his lap. Now he sits on the armchair by himself. I get to work remotely and stayed over at his often, and when it was lunch and dinner time, although he wasn't used to a 'regular' eating schedule, we'd eat together, and he'd even say a more consistent eating routine would be better for him. Now he says no thanks/not ready, and skips, which about daily leads to other issues as it makes him feel poorly, which also means no motivation and "can't think". I offer food or remind him he should eat, he declines and says he knows. He's repeated so many times, "I don't feel good/ I have a headache/ I'm so tired. I can't think. I need to eat. But I don't want to eat. It sucks. I need to eat more regularly." (variations) Over and over.) I met his kids after about 1 year (10yr old girl, 14yr old boy), and would sometimes visit while they were there (very Tuesday, every other weekend, and sometimes longer during summer or holidays). He seemed to be good with them- had them make dinner together, watched tv together, took them on walking adventures. And LUCKILY, they get along with me well. (I am SO fortunate they like me, versus if they hated me or were rebellious, etc).
When we first started dating, he had reasons/excuses for the condition of his rental (rented a friends house).
-He had to move in a hurry, AND his friend didn't move out his own furniture (which was mostly helpful, but some wasn't needed)
-He admitted his old place was a wreck but said his X was messier than he was and was bad at keeping up with it, and he hoped for a nicer space and didn't want to keep living like that (his mother confirmed the 2 of them were like a tornado even when they just visited, and she was in fact as or more messy)
-He needed more time to get to it
But, after dating for several months, I started to realize... those may have been factors, but it was also HIM. If I had realized this from the beginning, tbh, I'm not sure if we would have kept dating, but we had grown close and I thought, "there are worse behaviors. I can help keep the place in order if we progress to the point of moving in together."
When we discussed moving in together, I bluntly said, I love you, but I can NOT live how you live. I don't know what to do, because I want to be together, but I can NOT handle that.
He said he would go through his mess and trash or donate the things he crammed away in one of the bedrooms (full) and NOT just move it, AGAIN. He promised, it would not come over and our place would not be the same.
BUT, by the time it was moving time, he 'hadn't had time to pack/prepare' let alone get rid of the stuff he said he would
So now our garage and basement level are FULL. Of his stuff. There is a trail so we have room to get to the doors, I can get to laundry, and we can take the trash in/out of the garage.
After he "warned" me he was moving this stuff in, he apologized, and said he would take care of it ASAP after we moved in and got settled. He'd 'spend as much time as needed' going through it and getting rid of it, don't worry!
It's been 3 months. He's essentially not touched it. He'll sometimes SAY 'I need to work on it a little each day' or 'I need to work on that' or 'tomorrow I'll start working on it after lunch daily'. But it DOESN'T HAPPEN (yet).
Initially I was overwhelmed and felt panicky over the mess. It's overwhelming, and he said he wouldn't bring it! I was looking forward to having the basement and a garage!
I offered to HELP. He declines. After a few weeks, I saw one box in the garage with KITCHEN items and FOOD, so I decided FINE, I'll do some MYSELF. I brought it upstairs and started unpacking and found something he had been looking for. (He was out, so I texted him). He responded, "is there a reason you're going through my things? I thought you of all people knew better". (!!) So I stopped, put the stuff back in the box, and put it back in the garage. wtf. After that, a few weeks in, I started Ignoring it. I don't want to be a NAG, it wouldn't help either of us, and his mother even advised me (I like her, we're weirdly open with each other, and he talks to her openly too) be patient and try not to worry about it, give him time. Well, IDK if that's the best solution, but I've ignored it and try not to say anything, but I agree when he repeats that he needs to work on it.
I decided before we moved in together, I am Definitely getting a MAID! I never had one before and can clean up after myself, I am not the best thorough cleaner but I like things clean and organized, but I did NOT want to move in together and stress and fight over cleaning a much larger space, with HIM (and seeing how he never cleaned and it was gross!) AND his part time 2 kids! I found them myself, scheduled them, and am paying for them myself. I think it's fine if I still vacuumed and dusted, etc, but I simply don't want to, I don't trust him to, and now more ppl are contributing to the mess. and I'm in a better place where I can afford it, nbd.
I told him about it, and to my surprise, he got really upset.
He doesn't like "strangers in the house" and feels its an "invasion of privacy". We debated and went in some circles, but eventually he agreed we could try it a few times and re-address later.
But then when they came for their 1st visit, he got mad all over again. He yelled, and left, and was gone for hours after the maid left, but came back from his driving adventure happy again.
The 2nd time- same thing, except this time he accused me of saying 'I didn't care if he liked it or not, it was happening'. I calmly said, 'YOU said it FELT I was being that way, but that's not what I said. We agreed we could try it awhile, and I would REALLY like to keep having them come, it helps me a lot, and I am not the best cleaner either.' But he continued repeating, 'You said it! I remember exactly! You said that!' So I simply replied 'I'm sorry you feel that way'. Until he left, again for hours, then came back happy.
Due to several things he had said and how I was feeling lately, plus the maids issue, soon after I had a melt down. I couldn't hide it from him this time. I had cried privately a few times already, but this time it wouldn't hide.
He could tell something was wrong, and implored I speak to him. (He was in the right open mood). I cried uncontrollably, and when I could talk, then in between crying, I laid out my frustrations, concerns, and pain.
He said he didn't know I had been feeling this way (that he had been rude and crass for the past couple months and had changed), and he would try to keep it in mind.
And, for the maids (not the main issue/argument, but a topic), he agreed I could keep having them come, until/unless he cleaned the place as well as they did. He claimed he wanted a chance to clean the place himself, and told me to make him a list of what needed done.
(A few days ago I made the list, using the cleaner's list, and shared it with him. Not surprisingly, he said 'Ill have to look at my calendar, and get my schedule figured out...). He hasn't lifted a finger to clean, and I don't expect him to. Sorry if that's wrong to say. But I don't mind, because I like having the maid, and he has plenty of other things to worry about.
I DID notice when his kids were around, he'd be more distance and distracted and would often stay on his computer or phone and was a little shorter talking to them or me, but also realized the whole situation was new - him being divorced, me being there... I thought, it'd take time.
Fast forward to the current situation.
But now that we're both under one roof, AND it's Summer, OH MY GOSH it's been a LOT.
He's 45, I'm 37. I don't have kids and don't want to have kids. I used to think MAYBE I'd be open for adoption some day, but I don't want to have my own. So him having 2 part time would still be a big adjustment for me, but some aspects are somewhat exciting- to be part of a family.
Well.... another reason to fret about our/my future.
After we first moved in, the kids were here full time for 1 week due to spring break. Their grandma (his mom) also visited (bless her heart) to see our new place, and to help.
Even with her entertaining the 10 year old (who needs constant attention/entertainment, the 14 yr old just stays on his phone and is chill), having the daughter demanding my attention AS SOON AS my work quitting time came (she'd say, it'd 4pm! you're done right?!), quickly felt exhausting.
She's a good kid, and again I'm glad she likes me, and I hope to be a good influence to her and continue getting along! But it's a lot!
I tried to tell my fiance... 'you have told me before that You like some space and private time and quiet... thing is, I do, too... and sometimes I need a break... I am not used to having kids, and not full time, I am not used to it and it's a bit exhausting'.
He did not take the comment well. It is understandably a sensitive issue, as he is concerned for his kids and the new blended families and them being happy. He said something about 'I didnt know they were so hard to be around!' or a similar defensive/offended remark. I said no no, that's not what I meant, that's not what I'm saying....
I think he walked away wo any real conclusion to that convo.
FFW to this past week- they were here for a Full week and a half, no gma this time.
The daughter has become my shadow. He honestly ignores her. He says 'they don't have similar interests'. He gets along better with his son, and they both happily sit on the couch on their devices, or are in to similar TV shows.
So now I have this ball of energy wanting my attention all the time, where I live, 24/7, for multiple consecutive days. And I feel in to the trap of trying to be her playmate and friend more than being an 'adult'.
--- I started therapy a couple weeks ago, in part to help me in the current situation due to my nerves and how I can get overly anxious or worked up over things, and she advised Dont Be a PlayMate, she has to see you as an Adult ---
Anyway. On my own accord, I felt I needed to help everyone with lunch and dinner. Id help clean up after them. I constantly played with/ gave the daughter attention.
Meantime, her Dad and I had other unexpected arguments. The kids wanted to go to a movie. I like going to movies too. HE does not. So he'll say, "you guys can go". And he's happy to sit at home and let ME take HIS (future 'our', kinda) KIDS to the movie AND let me pay for it.
I did it once, and decided next time he should join us, &/or at least pay.
They wanted to go to the movies. I really pressed him to join us. This time I offered to pay, again, for everyone, to try to persuade him to go. He sort of agreed, but when the time came, 'had a headache' and really didn't want to join. (He frequently gets headaches, legit, and coincidently, when he doesn't want to do something?). He was going to decline. I stopped arguing and said, whoever wants to go to the movie, I'm leaving now!
Individually his kids looked at him and asked, 'Dad, you're coming right?' 'Dad, are you coming with us?'. And he Did. (Hooray). And he said his head got better during the movie, and both kids were having fun talking about the movie after the movie, and it was nice he had been there too.
Then the daughter wanted to go to the Carnival near us. Her Dad said she could ask ME about it bc I may want to go too. When we were alone, I said, did you tell her to ask ME? He said 'yes, I don't want to go, at all, and I don't want to buy her all the junk food she'll want.' I said, 'why do you think I'd want to take her on my own? I think it'd be a fun family thing, but I don't want to go just her and I'. He said 'fine, you don't have to! I thought maybe you'd want to. You can just tell her no, too.' I said 'and make ME the bad guy?' He said 'Not the bad guy, you just don't have to go!'
-- We have had several similar disagreements. The movies, the carnival, I offered to get us all tickets to Cirque du Solei and both kids said they were interested, and he said 'if it's a consensus, then Ill go, but it is NOT up my alley' then when I said yes, there's a consensus, they want to go, he said 'I've noticed a pattern of everyone wanted to go do something I don't want to'. I said 'well, unfortunately you don't want to do most things.' He said 'well, it's RuDe.' I said, 'it's RUDE I'm trying to find activities we can all do as a family for fun?! FINE. You let me know about cirque, I won't bring it up again, but the tickets are on special right now, and if they go up I won't like it!'. Then I told his son, if we're going, it'll be up to you guys, I told him I won't bring it up again. (And it hasn't been brought up, and we won't go).
*We do some things together. We go indoor rock climbing, sometimes just him and I when they're not here, and the kids join too and we do it together. We've had a board game night. We've taken walks together. We pick a movie at home (though the kids may want to be on their devices instead, cause they can never agree on a movie and get bored ASAP. They, or the girl, may& have adhd as well).
Impulsive buying- he's bought/traded (2) newer used cars since we met, and both cars are worth more than my car was brand new that I bought myself years ago, each, (yes, he saved a lot, AND got a really good return on an investment) and is already contemplating replacing one and asked me about trading MY car to have the big 'family' car. Because he decided the SUV he bought for the family car 'isn't big enough' (which Ive also said about that, its plenty big, you have to pack better for the couple trips/year to visit your parents. You could get a small bus and it may not be big enough, and we can't have a bus.) I've said no, my car is paid off and I like my car, I don't like not having the option anymore from here on out of having my own car that I like and only he can, including even if I get a smaller SUV I might want bc he wants it to be BIGGER... (possibly a normal family debate, the mom usually has the mom car, but I don't want to have to have the mom car, but it's silly we have 3 cars, bc he has to have a fun convertible). Later he brought it up again and offered to pay for half of "my" our new vehicle if i was willing. Um NO. I said, again, I like my car and it's paid off and I like not having a car payment, so until my car goes downhill and needs lots of repairs, I'm not paying for another car. And he hasn't brought it up again. And he has enough guitars to supply a dozen bands, and will buy things versus looking for them if it's difficult to find them (like anything in the basement/garage atm).
This is turning in to quite the novel!!
I'll try to wrap this up, if you've gotten this far...
During the past week+ they were here, he was frequently on his computer (hopefully working on his project, sometimes playing games), he often went to our bedroom to rest/think/sleep after I was done with work, went on a few solo errands, and declined when I invited him to try x or y games with me and his daughter. From my position, I'm thinking, WHY AREN'T YOU HANGING OUT WITH YOUR KIDS?!' and he complains they aren't over more often!! (He's used to living in the same house, still adjusting to shared custody). They are HIS kids yet I felt I was the one hanging out with them, or mostly her, and the irony that I'm the one who didn't have kids... and if/when I go upstairs, he asks what I'm doing, when I'm coming back, or says I'm "hiding". I don't think it's fair (for lack of better words) he needs his space and can go upstairs and rest/nap/or get space, or go on a solo walk or errands etc, but when I do, I'm "hiding".
So it's tough. It was a LONG WEEK. They just left yesterday, we get a week off, then going to his mothers for a week (with his kids) which should be fine, we did it last year, and then they're back here for another week after, then a week off, then they're back again! Then back to regular school schedule.
It's been a LOOOOOOOOTTTTT to take on. From my quiet clean solo apartment to living with an often rude, not feeling well, everything is "later", fiance, and having to entertain / help with his kids.
For his end, he's right when he says it's MY choice to interact with his daughter, I could choose not to.... but I feel bad.
But after my therapy session earlier in the week (2nd one with her), I did feel more empowered, and feel it's REQUIRED, to work on taking a step back, and not keep trying to be so patient and understanding and trying to do so much.
My therapist told me, she doesn't think we will work out. She thinks he has a behavior pattern that wouldn't work well with ANYONE and I will just go crazy. BUT, if I INSIST on staying and trying to make it work...
I need to learn to say NO, to him and to his kids. And I need to be comfortable 'making him uncomfortable' and not keep trying to avoid conflict and doing everything. And stop Enabling and trying to fill in the gaps and do things for him.
I know she's right... I disagree that we can't work out, I hope, but she made some good points and motivated me to start working to change some things Now, before we ARE doomed.
I tried to ignore the daughter a little more. Not rudely, but not as play-mate-like.
For lunch and dinner, since we had lots of left overs, I said everyone can do their own things. And they did. The boys ate left overs, and the dad helped his girl make ramen (her choice). (The next day I helped again).
I found a flier on the floor by the entry door.
Earlier he found it it taped to our door and tossed it inside on his way out.
And then proceeded to step over it/ not see it when he came back in.
I picked it up and put it by the steps so he'd see it. He stepped over/didn't see it.
So I finally picked it up and said, 'why was this on the floor?'
He said, 'because it was on the door'
I said, 'but why is it on the floor?'
He said 'bc it hasn't made it to the trash yet'.
I tried to hand it to him, he ignored me.
I said, 'why do I have to be the trash person?'
He said, 'fine! next time I'll leave it on the door!'
I said 'now that would just be Lazy. I'm asking why you didn't put it in the trash.'
He said 'because I didn't see it!'
(now I need to work on the line that's not enabling and always cleaning up after others or doing things for them, being comfortable making HIM uncomfortable, and not being a B*. )
Yesterday morning, I saw he left his chick-fil-a out from last night with some chicken pieces still in the box.
I said, oh no! You forgot to put the left overs away! (as in, they're no good now)
He said yeah, I noticed that this morning.
I said so, silly question, but it's trash, right?
He said, yes.
I said, and you could throw it away too, right?
He looked and me and hesitated like he wanted to say something, but then said 'yes'.
I said, OK.
Then I threw it away.
I could said, 'Ill let you get it then', but I figure I want to start sprinkling this stuff in, not over-water it.
When he doesn't do the things he says he'll do and needs to do, I've tried different approaches, typically just "you said you were going to do X?..... are you still going to?.."
And his typical response has been "later", "why? why is it important?" or "it's not priority".
I'll say, "but you said you would do it this evening". He'll repeat the above or just say "later".
He asks me to remind him to do several things, daily. But if/when I do, he says later/ brushes it off. (And he needs to find his own method, I can't be his task manager. Esp if he is just going to ignore me, even after he asks me to)
I think I try to talk to him calmly and feel I have to walk on egg shells with him a lot of times.
But then he'll tell me the same thing. He says he often feels hesitant to talk to me and he has to walk on egg shells...
My POV, I feel when I question, contest, or don't just let things go, he says I'm being defensive or offended. To me, he's being defensive/stone walling/ projecting/etc.
So when he told me this again just yesterday (I think in response to me contesting that I hadn't 'clarified' something to him that we had discussed before, that I thought i said calmly, but he saw it as me being defensive), I said:
"If it makes you feel any better, I often feel that way, too. I think we both just need to try to be sensitive when we choose our words, and in how we receive/respond to it. Sometimes you may see my face betray me when I'm processing things, but I do try, too."
And yesterday he started NEW meds bc he felt adderall wasn't working. He started vyvanse. The side affects concern me, but all stimulants have similar, he said.
But the cost isn't sustainable. He doesn't have insurance and the cost is ShOckIngly high!!! So we both hope they work, and hope they don't, because it's too expensive to keep up long term!
He says he's listening to ADHD audio books. I think that's great. He got me one to read too, but I didn't get far in it yet, then I bought (this one) and already like it better since it's for both perspectives.
He said I should do whatever I want and do 'my' things and enjoy this weekend since we have no plans, and it's no longer always going to be that way (obviously! due to his kids) and said he plans to work on his laptop awhile, then do house things this afternoon.
If* his headache goes away/doesn't get worse. (He also said he'd work on it with one of the kids this week, they didn't at all). I reminded him he also said he'd mail something Thursday, then Friday, now it still needs done. He said OH yeah, crap.
(But it needs mailed... it's a large box of board games I helped him sell, but he said he'd mail because its too heavy for me, and I did the rest of the work.)
*Note: after I submitted my post, he went upstairs to lay down because he was "distracted". I don't forsee it being a very productive day.
I do feel bad, because I know he wants to try/ wants this to improve. And I'm so glad he's trying, or starting and wanting to try. That's why I think we have hope. But it's still very hard on me, too.
He also agrees he needs an adhd coach or therapist, BUT, like most things, he 'isn't interested in doing that yet' because it's hard to find someone/the right one, and, he has other things right now...
I think it's something i need to put on a future 'you MUST do this, or we won't work out' list, or timeline as has been suggested to me, but IDK how to develop it yet/ my own thoughts.
I have also said I think we should do couples counseling. He asked Why and says he doesn't think we need it and doesn't really want to, but would be willing.
My therapist said she's willing to do ONE session with both of us, but otherwise won't do couples unless he spoke to her on his own too, so it's not biased, or we could go to someone else separate for that.
Problem with that, like my therapist and his meds, is it's another financial concern. It may be worth it, but, my insurance doesn't fully cover my own, and may not at all for couples, and he'd also have to pay out of pocket. So all this is in flux atm.
But I want to do at least the 1 session together she offered.
So. I'll end there. I know I over-shared more than enough, and I apologize for the length.