View Full Version : Can't take the complaining


megan42
02-16-14, 01:37 PM
Hi, I'm new here but have been reading about ADHD and marriage over the last month and found a support group for spouses through my local CHADD chapter which really saved my life. My DH is so close to agreeing to see a psychiatrist, which is good, because he's refused for years.

We have lots of familiar issues, run a business together, I'm constantly putting out very expensive fires, trying to pay bills while he spends all the money on new deals, he was defrauded twice last year but I'm the one who "doesn't get business...". Son with ADHD and other developmental delays. DH works constantly, does very little else, prefers sitting on the couch on his laptop to going to office. We have employees and customers around the world so any time of the day he might be screaming into skype while the rest of the family is trying to relax.

But I really feel like I could take all that, even the money stress if he didn't ***** at me all the time! I just can't take it. He doesn't buy groceries, he doesn't put money in the personal account so that one can buy groceries but he complains that I didn't get the right cereal. Complains, criticizes constantly. I feel like he should be so grateful to me for all the sacrifices and support I give him but the opposite is true.

And when he goes to far and really hurts me he is incapable of apologizing. Ever. Honestly the only way to end a fight is for me to apologize, then his sulking and passive aggression stop.

I've been trying really hard not to put fuel on the fire. I've read and heard that some ADHD partners like to pick fights and provoke people for the stimulation, so I just try to walk away, but not too aggressively. But it hurts after a while and I want him to admit that I don't deserve to wake up to twenty complaints before my first cup of coffee. I've also read to try to cut back on nagging and complaining myself and I feel like I'm doing a good job of it, which makes it doubly painful to be a punching bag.

Any advice to get through this before he gets treatment? Any hope that treatment will help this?

ginniebean
02-16-14, 05:23 PM
Are you sure it's add and not borderline? Most people with adhd apologise at the drop of a hat. Could be comorbid.

Greengrasshoppe
02-16-14, 05:35 PM
Is the dividing line between ADHD and borderline whether one apologizes? Doubtful...

daveddd
02-16-14, 05:42 PM
Is the dividing line between ADHD and borderline whether one apologizes? Doubtful...

nope

people with ADHD are prone to occasional impulsive angry outbursts


being impulsive , they become something to regret quickly

constantly picking fights, criticizing , passive aggressiveness , refusal to take responsibility for your actions don't generally appear in adhd literature

those are personality traits

daveddd
02-16-14, 06:00 PM
but either way

there is some smart people here

adhd and non adhd

so your likely to get some good advice /support

VeryTired
02-16-14, 06:06 PM
Hi, Megan42--

A big welcome to the Forums. I hope you will find this resource as valuable as I have. In addition to the resource of every day's new discussions and responses, there are also the old, archived discussions. When I first came here, I read my way through the whole history of the "Non-ADD Partner Support" board and it was very helpful to me. I would also point you toward Gina Pera's excellent book, "Is It You, Me, Or ADult ADHD". Under the auspices of CHADD, she also moderates an online support group for partners of people with ADHD which might be of interest to you.

My advice to you as you wait for your husband to see the psychiatrist is just hold on and stay hopeful! Getting a diagnosis and treatment (whether with medication or not) can be a gigantically life-changing positive experience, perhaps even more so in some ways for a non-ADHD partner than for the person with ADHD.

Anyway, back to your question. It's true as Ginniebean says that constant apologizing can be a feature of people with ADHD, but in my experience, so can the contrary. Here's how that works in my partner, at least. He used to have almost a nervous tick of saying "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry", on a rising inflection, ending almost in a shout. He'd do this whenever he sensed stress or unhappiness on my fault. But he'd go nuts if I asked what he was apologizing for or tried to tell him what I was actually feeling--which usually wasn't, in those situations, anger at him. It didn't seem to be real apologizing, if you know what I mean.

But--at the same time, he was also hugely reluctant to apologize when I did tell him he'd hurt or upset me. I have never known someone who acknowledged fault less when he really was at fault, or who apologized less when he really needed to. And after getting his diagnosis and going to a therapy group for adults with ADHD, he has completely stopped with the reflexive tick apologizing, but he still won't apologize if I say something like "Hey, it really hurt my feelings when you said "______".

The way I understand it is that he has behind him a lifetime of anxiety, embarrassment and regret about feeling in the wrong about things without understanding why, and it gives him a almost a kind of PTSD about admitting he has done anything wrong. He once accidentally knocked me over the ear with his heavy wooden cane--I almost fell over and I saw stars. He knew he did it and of course he was upset that I was in pain, but to my amazement, he didn't say "I'm sorry."

I hate this. It is one of the most painful things for me. I don't see a way I can change to be more accommodating of him about this--and actually, I don't really want to. I think it's reasonable and OK for me to want to hear acknowledgement when harm is done to me, regardless of the intention. My partner does not think this is a reasonable wish for me to have. Impasse. Big unhappiness.

As for your main point, the complaining, I really hear you on this one as well. It got so bad for my partner that HE even started to say he couldn't stand how much he complained. I found that ironic--it didn't seem to occur to him that he should consider how I felt about it. It was only a problem when it even began to bother him! I think this started because he noticed the incessant complaining at his group therapy. He didn't like it when other group members did it, so he began to see himself doing it, and now is trying to stop. But it's not uncommon for my day to start with him standing a foot away from where I am asleep, very early in the morning, and his shouting complaints about the weather, the work he has to do that day, politics, or all sorts of other things. I can't even get my eyes open before I am engulfed in a sea of complaints.

This kind of thing used to be maddening and unbearable to me. It's hardly bearable to me now, either, to tell the truth. But I have at least come to understand that it's definitely ADHD-related, and one thing behind it is a great inability to understand what my experience is like when he does this. He's not deliberately ignoring my feelings, it's more that they are literally invisible and incomprehensible to him. That's still very discouraging for me, but at least it means he's not being careless or deliberately disrespectful of my feelings--the problem runs deeper than that.

This is getting very long, sorry. So enough of this from me for now, but I do want to encourage you to keep posting here--do let us know how you're doing and how things go with the psychiatrist.

kiraffe
02-16-14, 08:47 PM
My partner is similar in that he does a lot of complaining. It's because he has tons of big ideas about how everything ought to be done but doesn't have the ability to actually do anything about them. So he wants to live out his ideas through telling me what to do, which is extremely annoying and the criticism is upsetting.

I often tell him that if he wants to eat different food, then he has to contribute to the meal planning, shopping and cooking. Which he almost never does. I don't mind doing it but I'm going to do it how I want.

He does apologise when I point out to him that he's being critical and how it makes me feel. I don't think I could tolerate it if he didn't apologise. He wants to be a considerate person, he just needs reminders and for me to be very clear about stating my needs & feelings.

TLCisaQT
02-17-14, 01:05 AM
Yes, a lot of complaining. It's very hard to be around somebody who doesn't seem to find joy in very many things in life. I try to be optimistic and positive and he is a "realist" in way too many things. (that's my positive spin on that hehe)

Actually, my husband says sorry ALOT, so can't help you there. He is much better at it than I am.

I say as VeryTired did - Hang in there and YES there is hope that meds will help. Just be patient because sometimes it can take awhile to get the right medication and the right dosage. I wish I had a CHADD group close by that I could attend. It would be so nice. That's great that you have one to go to for support!!

sarahsweets
02-17-14, 04:59 AM
These things are not uncommon with adhd but, have you calmly at some point stated what it is you want on a regular basis? Like when there is not conflict have you told him that the complaining bothers you , the inconsideration bothers you etc? Saying these things during periods of peacetime can sometimes sink in better than after or during conflict. If you have then you also need to decide if you are willing to live with the way he is right now, and if he never changes can you still live with that? Pretend that adhd is like a chronic disease for a moment. Can you stay with him if he never changes? If the answer is no, then you have some important decisions to make. I am not saying that he is right or that you should just shut up and take it because you're right, thats not fair but if you keep thinking that he should know better and want more than he is willing to give then you will be setting yourself up for disappointment .

someothertime
02-17-14, 08:14 AM
Sarah says some practical things here that really cut to the chase...

I'd like to add, that in the environment... change is almost impossible... either way...

I highly urge you to seek a mediator to implement some sort of disconnect here... be it within the business, the house, etc. etc.

Only then will either of you gain the breathing space to truly speak, listen and change. Yes, he needs to get some help... that is just a supporting role though... Take away all the day to day things and consider what Sarah said...

Now the issue here is that the business will need to continue to run... So trying to implement any of these changes internally, even with some sort of clear space and boundaries is fraught with mountains... And even if you get to the other side... without both wanting to climb the mountain... is it worth the journey?

Consider some sort of business "mediator"... who can come in and be part manager... for a while while you lay down the law on your personal situation and call in some guides to connect you with the right mechanisms for effective change and clarity.

Until then, in the same place, different words will sound the same.

kilted_scotsman
02-17-14, 08:26 AM
The issues you describe are not ADHD per se but they can be "secondary" effects of living with undiagnosed ADHD.

Because of this it's likely that pharmacological treatment alone may not significantly change the behaviour as it is a conditioned response to past events.

For this reason it would be a good idea to combine meds with some form of talking therapy. However the key is that first he has to see that he needs to change.

also bear in mind that if/once change happens it's effects may not be just to change one behaviour, but to re-evaluate part or all of his life... this is good, however the fallout may not be what you expect.

If he agrees to go to therapy, it might be an idea to go to therapy yourself, this may help you work through the process of change and help you both navigate what may be a challenging time.

kilted

megan42
02-17-14, 10:17 AM
[QUOTE=VeryTired;1617551]Hi, Megan42--



The way I understand it is that he has behind him a lifetime of anxiety, embarrassment and regret about feeling in the wrong about things without understanding why, and it gives him a almost a kind of PTSD about admitting he has done anything wrong. He once accidentally knocked me over the ear with his heavy wooden cane--I almost fell over and I saw stars. He knew he did it and of course he was upset that I was in pain, but to my amazement, he didn't say "I'm sorry."

Thanks, VeryTired, I think this is really close to it. I do have a lot of compassion for my husband and what he's been through. I do think it's about him having a really raw, beaten up sense of himself. I guess the reason I post here is because in real life I am showing patience and compassion but I need to find a place to show some compassion for myself.

Another thing my husband does, that I think is related to this is, let's say I calmly say, "That's not the right light bulb for the bathroom." If he's in a down mood he might quickly go to, "Well you were yelling at me for being such a stupid idiot that I can't even buy light bulbs". That's kind of an extreme example but I think it shows how he's thinking about himself.

And yes, I did read "Is it you, me or ADD?". So helpful

daveddd
02-17-14, 12:01 PM
[QUOTE=VeryTired;1617551]Hi, Megan42--



The way I understand it is that he has behind him a lifetime of anxiety, embarrassment and regret about feeling in the wrong about things without understanding why, and it gives him a almost a kind of PTSD about admitting he has done anything wrong. He once accidentally knocked me over the ear with his heavy wooden cane--I almost fell over and I saw stars. He knew he did it and of course he was upset that I was in pain, but to my amazement, he didn't say "I'm sorry."

Thanks, VeryTired, I think this is really close to it. I do have a lot of compassion for my husband and what he's been through. I do think it's about him having a really raw, beaten up sense of himself. I guess the reason I post here is because in real life I am showing patience and compassion but I need to find a place to show some compassion for myself.

Another thing my husband does, that I think is related to this is, let's say I calmly say, "That's not the right light bulb for the bathroom." If he's in a down mood he might quickly go to, "Well you were yelling at me for being such a stupid idiot that I can't even buy light bulbs". That's kind of an extreme example but I think it shows how he's thinking about himself.

And yes, I did read "Is it you, me or ADD?". So helpful

i relate very well to this


i hope he gets help

VeryTired
02-17-14, 12:06 PM
Hi, Megan--

Yes, the extreme response to the small comment. We have that one, too. It is usually one of my hardest challenges. I find it hard to stay patient when it feels as if someone is being unfair to me. Being treated as though I have been cruel or unreasonable when I have only said something small like "that's not the right lightbulb" seems so wrong to me and is tough to take.

I think you are very right that it relates to what I was talking about before--the beaten-up-by-prior-experience thing. But I think it also can relate to having a hard time being aware of someone else's experience at all. My partner normally sees things very strongly in terms of what's happening to him, how everything is about or relates to him. He takes it to an extreme that can be uncomfortable for everyone.

Yesterday we had a fascinating conversation. I said I wished he wouldn't talk to me in the morning before I wake up. He said, impatiently, how could he tell whether or not I was awake? I said, well, for one thing, when I wake up, my eyes open. He was incredibly offended that I pointed that out to him, and said I was insulting his intelligence by stating the obvious. I pointed out that this wasn't my intention, and in fact that he routinely does start to talk to me when I am sound asleep, with closed eyes. He said I was being unfair and arbitrary by wanting him to notice whether I am awake before talking, but that it would be OK if I made an unchanging rule like "Don't ever talk to me before 6 AM."

This is a good, kind, and highly intelligent guy, but to me it seemed that he was saying crazy things and not making sense. I don't think there's any question that is reasonable for people to be allowed to wake up before conversations start. It just is, unless there's some kind of emergency happening. And it actually isn't all that hard to distinguish between person awake and person asleep. Finally, we resolved it when I reminded him how much he hates it if I ever accidentally wake him up. It was not until I literally pointed this out as a parallel case that he could see that if he hates being woken up by someone talking, maybe so do I.

This is the kind of thing that gives me my ADD Forums name--the problem itself, but also the solution is very exhausting. I wish I could make some progress like this in the type of lightbulb comment issue you described. But I don't have any idea yet to how to do better with that. What works for you?

daveddd
02-17-14, 12:20 PM
Hi, Megan--

Yes, the extreme response to the small comment. We have that one, too. It is usually one of my hardest challenges. I find it hard to stay patient when it feels as if someone is being unfair to me. Being treated as though I have been cruel or unreasonable when I have only said something small like "that's not the right lightbulb" seems so wrong to me and is tough to take.

I think you are very right that it relates to what I was talking about before--the beaten-up-by-prior-experience thing. But I think it also can relate to having a hard time being aware of someone else's experience at all. My partner normally sees things very strongly in terms of what's happening to him, how everything is about or relates to him. He takes it to an extreme that can be uncomfortable for everyone.

Yesterday we had a fascinating conversation. I said I wished he wouldn't talk to me in the morning before I wake up. He said, impatiently, how could he tell whether or not I was awake? I said, well, for one thing, when I wake up, my eyes open. He was incredibly offended that I pointed that out to him, and said I was insulting his intelligence by stating the obvious. I pointed out that this wasn't my intention, and in fact that he routinely does start to talk to me when I am sound asleep, with closed eyes. He said I was being unfair and arbitrary by wanting him to notice whether I am awake before talking, but that it would be OK if I made an unchanging rule like "Don't ever talk to me before 6 AM."

This is a good, kind, and highly intelligent guy, but to me it seemed that he was saying crazy things and not making sense. I don't think there's any question that is reasonable for people to be allowed to wake up before conversations start. It just is, unless there's some kind of emergency happening. And it actually isn't all that hard to distinguish between person awake and person asleep. Finally, we resolved it when I reminded him how much he hates it if I ever accidentally wake him up. It was not until I literally pointed this out as a parallel case that he could see that if he hates being woken up by someone talking, maybe so do I.

This is the kind of thing that gives me my ADD Forums name--the problem itself, but also the solution is very exhausting. I wish I could make some progress like this in the type of lightbulb comment issue you described. But I don't have any idea yet to how to do better with that. What works for you?

poor theory of mind (perspective taking).....http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21667451


you can be born without it theoretically (autism)

or it can be trapped under a conditioned response that is to avoid ANY type of negative affect

and yes an ego insult can be a negative emotion (even if its imagined)

with a low sense of self, imagined ego hits are coming from every direction

Luvmybully
02-17-14, 12:27 PM
We have a b * tch quota in our house.

When someone is grumping and complaining, we just tell them "You've used your b * tch quota for the day, you have to wait til tomorrow to b * tch about anything else".

VeryTired
02-17-14, 01:16 PM
Luvmybully--

Sometimes the simplest answers are best, aren't they? This is genius. Thank you.

daveddd
02-17-14, 01:43 PM
this is a very good (recommended by top notch adhd guys) , cheap self help adhd book

easy to read

and more importantly designed specifically for adults with ADHD and the problems it brings (thinking about the personality vs ADHD, it doesn't matter, i just associate ADHD with incurable)



I'm posting it because i starting thinking about a couple things while reading the non ADhders posts

perspective taking and mindful listening for relationships (with exercises)

working with "hypersensitivity to criticism " (again this can be imagined)

emotional regulation

maybe I'm wasting space, just my way of trying to help, not good with words

http://books.google.com/books?id=nyaobFUD2BUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=adhd+mindfulness&hl=en&sa=X&ei=uEcCU-nxD6aOyAHQtYGoBw&output=reader&pg=GBS.PP1

RedHairedWitch
02-17-14, 01:57 PM
Finally, we resolved it when I reminded him how much he hates it if I ever accidentally wake him up. It was not until I literally pointed this out as a parallel case that he could see that if he hates being woken up by someone talking, maybe so do I.

This is the kind of thing that gives me my ADD Forums name--the problem itself, but also the solution is very exhausting. I wish I could make some progress like this in the type of lightbulb comment issue you described. But I don't have any idea yet to how to do better with that. What works for you?

Mirroring is magic! Relating the issue to something we experience is very key to finding understating.

Remember, how you explain things, how you experience things, your emotions and expectations are really freaking weird and make no sense to us. There are so many things that are commonplace amoungst my NT friends, that simply do not make any sense to me at all. Or just seem completely unnecessary.

But mirroring and relating is a big help.

My man hates feeling that he is being ignored and not listened to. Yet, he has this terrible habit, typical of ADHD where when I am speaking, he doesn't acknowledge that I said anything.

Me: Something something about my day at work.

Him: Something something about the trailer he is building.

Eh?

So I explained it to him like this: You hate it when people seem to not be listening to you, right? Well... I know you don't mean to do it but often when I say something, you don't respond to what I was saying. You start talking about something unrelated. It hurts me the way it hurts you to feel not listened to.

Light bulb moment!

So he tries harder to not do this, Even if all I get is an "Oh, neat."

And, understanding ADHD. I don't get too upset if he sometimes is obviously thinking about building his trailer while I ramble about work. It's the nature of the beast. Besides, a lot of the time while he is talking about his trailer, I'm just smiling and nodding ... while thinking about work!


As for constant complaining, luckily we don't have that issue. Although I do have na ADHD mother who complains about everything.

A few years back I staring counting the times.

Mom: blah blah, this toothpaste is terrible, why did you buy it?

Me: That's one.

Mom: grrr

Me: walks away.

Eventually, she realized that she was getting up to 20-something complaints a day. And that meant that I was walking away from her 20 times a day. She tries to be cheerful around me more now.

I do like the b*itching limit idea!

dvdnvwls
02-18-14, 01:21 AM
Another thing my husband does, that I think is related to this is, let's say I calmly say, "That's not the right light bulb for the bathroom." If he's in a down mood he might quickly go to, "Well you were yelling at me for being such a stupid idiot that I can't even buy light bulbs". That's kind of an extreme example but I think it shows how he's thinking about himself.
I've been there (as the husband). You're right that he's thinking inaccurately about himself. However, there's more to it than that. What if there's truth in his point that the way you're talking to him is driving him crazy? What if there were practical things you could change that would improve this whole situation?

The fact that he has mistaken beliefs about himself doesn't mean his analysis of the situation is incorrect.

RedHairedWitch
02-18-14, 07:34 AM
Wait ... there are right light bulbs for bathrooms?

megan42
02-18-14, 02:21 PM
Wait ... there are right light bulbs for bathrooms?

LOL I didn't mean fancy light bulbs. More like a light bulb that doesn't fit. It was an example on the fly because I'm much more likely to buy the wrong one in that scenario, but I don't lose it if its' pointed out to me. I'm blonde, we can't screw in light bulbs.

I do like the counting idea. One issue though is that we will devolve into an immediate fight over what constitutes complaining. He'll say that he's helping me know how to do a better job =).

dvdnvwls
02-18-14, 04:28 PM
Wait ... there are right light bulbs for bathrooms?
Some are fluorescent, some are incandescent, some fixtures have wattage limits, some bulbs don't fit under certain shades, etc. Likely not just a case of being persnickety.