View Full Version : Is this normal?


michaela23
02-20-14, 11:18 PM
Hi guys,

This is my first time posting here. My husband has ADHD and he's on medication. He has a good heart but I'm frustrated. He can't wake up, so I have to wake him up. He can't remember many of his appointments, so I have to remember them for him. He can't remember to do his chores, so I have to prompt him and re-prompt him or do them myself. I feel like I'm his parent half the time.

If that wasn't annoying enough, all he does is work, work, work. He's at the computer day and night. Completely hyperfocused. That's all he cares about.

Then, when he comes up for hair, he'll go out at 10 p.m. at night til about 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. with a friend for a drink or for a walk a couple times a week. The other times, he'll power watch some TV with me and then go back to the computer and work all night. Usually, I go to bed almost every night alone.

I feel lonely and depressed. Is this normal for an ADHD person? Why do they do this and will they ever stop?

My biggest thing is that I'm hurt he goes and has his fun with his boys instead of wanting to stay with me. He says he has to go get his energy out -- he works from home so he feels couped up and I go to bed early so he figures it makes sense. How come he doesn't get that he should be at home with his wife -- or is it going out with your guy friends twice a week normal when your married?

I told him to go out earlier but he said that's when they are available. I feel like I'm single most of the time and I don't know what to do.

Sad and Lonely

dvdnvwls
02-21-14, 03:02 AM
Hello, and welcome to the forum.

Some people might be happy to live the way you're living. You're not happy with it at all. That means you and your husband need to work out a way of living that's OK with both of you. It's wrong to force you to live in a way that's not OK with you, just as it would be wrong to force him to live in a way that's not OK with him.

Have you read The ADHD Effect on Marriage ?

How about Is It You, Me, or Adult ADD?

Both books are worth reading. I'd recommend the second one, if you have to choose one.

Greengrasshoppe
02-21-14, 08:57 AM
IME it seems like this is normal for ADHDers but the veterans here will gave to weigh in. I'm reading the ADHD Effect now but helps.

sarahsweets
02-21-14, 08:59 AM
you have a right to have you self heard but you can expect things that might not happen. the realt trick is, can you live with this if he never changed?

kilted_scotsman
02-21-14, 10:14 AM
Yup going out once or twice a week with friends is normal..... that's an important part of life.... so maybe you could think about doing that too.

One thing to remember is that when you use the word "should" you are making a value judgement from your viewpoint.... when you use "must" or "should" then it's a signal to take a step back an ask "why do I think this is so black and white"

The key is to start from the place that there is no "normal", we are all different. We all have to build a relationship from the ground up.... ADD or not.

What is obvious is that you are not hapy and want more connection. How you do that will come from a discussion between you and your spouse.

I would suspect that his behaviour is not just pure ADHD... there are other drivers i there too. The way forward is to bring those out into the open so that everyone knows where they stand. This is usually done through therapy.

You may find that his overwork is driven by fear.... a fear that is a "secondary" effect of living with ADHD.... many of us have this fear that "the world" will "find us out" and work will vanish..... in the US... that's a pretty serious fear because there's not much of a safety net.

We also have to work twice as hard as everyone else to get the same amount of output.... you may well find your partner is as scattered in his work online as he is in the rest of his life so that he needs that vast amount of time to get the day's work done.

THere is also the Parent/Child dynamic..... once that enters a relationship it can be difficult to shift.... again therapy is often the best way t deal with it.

Remember too.... if you depend on his income for the lifetyle you have..... he has to perform.... and he will feel that pressure HUGELY.... this creates a mindset that reinforces the idea that the mans job is to "provide" and being there for the more intimate times is lower priority.

Much depends on circumstance..... however a way forward may be to set a date night.... and LEAVE THE HOUSE... to do something else.... build this into the routine....

also encourage him to go to a therapist.... and it would be good if you found one too.... it sounds like you need that support.... p[lus you going may help him overcome the male block about going to a therapist.

silivrentoliel
02-21-14, 10:42 AM
minus the hyperfocusing on work, it's pretty normal for him to want to get out and do things with his friends. I understand feeling neglected though... have you talked to him about setting up a date night once a week or twice a month where it's just the two of you?

Does he have a smart phone? Get him into the habit of using the calendar on there for chores and such. I use mine religiously... without it, I'd be completely lost. There are also programs he can download that will help remind him of tasks that need to be completed... I don't remember the name of it, but if you want me too, I'll find it for you.

Also, having him schedule his work (like he stops at a certain time every night) might help... although honestly, it's not so bad he's hyperfocused on work... better than completely procrastinating and not getting anything done.

Sorry if this is discombobulated... meds haven't kicked in yet :p

RedHairedWitch
02-21-14, 07:12 PM
A lot of this really does sound typical for people working from home. The weird hours, the need to get out of the house.

When I worked from home I switched from grocery shopping once or twice a month to small trips, picking up something almost everyday. Just for the change of scenery.

You are not only staring at the same four walls all day, but you also become much more isolated. At work you can socialize a little bit. Chat with co-workers, grab lunch together etc. You can't really do that when you're stuck at home all day.


I bet he would be eager to spend more time with you ... if it meant getting out of the house. Try setting up a date night sort of arrangement. Doesn't have to anything expensive, go wander around the mall together, go to the park, whatever will get him out of his prison-home-work and time with you.
Also invite him along when you go out to run errands. When I was working at home, I'd eagerly jump up to go to the hardware store with my guy, just for something to do with him and get away from the computer.

Hanging out with friends a couple times a week is pretty normal, especially if you're an extrovert and especially if you work from home and lack that day-to-day socializing you get in a workplace.

I wouldn't suggest asking him to spend less time with friends, that's not fair. I would suggest encouraging him to spend more time with you. And also recommend that you spend more time with your friends. And maybe sometimes you can tag along with the guys, or invite them over?

As for the weird hours, his medication could need an adjustment to help him get into a regular sleeping pattern. Some folks ADHDers take melatonin before bed to help them sleep.
And having a schedule when working at home is important too. Ask him if he'd be willing to try to set his work hours to some more typical of the 9-5 routine.

But remember, some people are just night people. It's not a moral failing to be a night owl, and it doesn't mean he doesn't love you if he goes to bed late. Surely you don't work everyday? If you have weekends, and I'm sure you do, then why not stay up with him once in a while? Rent a movie, snuggle on the couch and sleep in together.
Maybe he'd be willing to cuddle in bed with for a half hour or an hour some nights, even if he went right back to the computer after?


Also for a bit of a laugh:

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/working_home

Mittens
02-21-14, 10:56 PM
This is tough.
Really tough.

My bf has ADD and I am the spouse. I can so identify with the hurt, frustration and loneliness. Can / are you / have you tried separating add from your husband as a person?
I know with myself, I struggle with that. It was far worse before I worked (and continue to work on) reminding myself what actions are *his*, and *deliberate*, and what actions are just a byproduct of something else.
Like, if he forgot my birthday - I would really focus on knowing dates and memory problems are a byproduct of ADD, it's not him being thoughtless, or hurtful, or forgetting because it wasn't important to him.
That's a short sentence, but man it is *really tough* to do. It's a constant work, and effort, but it helps. It doesn't stop the hurt, but it does in time lessen it and trains your brain to differentiate by itself automatically before it has time to fire off to your emotional center. If that makes any sense? I apologize, explaining isn't my strong suit.

This is my experience:

Throw normal out the window.

Determine what *your* *needs* are.
Start by 1 need. I have found this board invaluable for the amazing people that have the most creative advice and suggestions.

Break things down.
You feel lonely. RHW had some amazing advice on things to try specifically to try a different way to fulfill your need.
I have found that not saying "dony do this" or "do less of this" and instead asking for more of something, or making suggestions of more, to make a big difference. Exactly what RHW said about not asking to spend less time with friends, just asking to spend more time with you.
It may sound strange, but *how* something is phrased I have found to determine the answer - not the question or request itself.

You mentioned husband, so I am thinking over time in your relationship you've found a lot of work-arounds already and I apologize if these things are things you already do or have tried.

michaela23
02-22-14, 01:57 AM
Guys, you are all AMAZING!

I can't believe how helpful, insightful and caring you have all been...THANK YOU. It really helps me to know that I'm not alone and also to understand the ADHD perspective a little more.

dvdnvwls: I agree with you, every marriage/relationship has its own rules of engagement and we should all find a place where we're happy in it. Lately, it's hard for me to to figure out how to be happy in this situation. I actually just started reading "The ADHD Effect on Marriage." We'll see how it goes.

Greengrasshoppe: Glad to hear this is common with ADHD'ers.


sarahsweets: You're right, I have to think about the consequence of whether or not I could live with it if it didn't change.

kilted_scotsman: You are bang on, there is definitely fear when it comes to his work. There's major anxiety over job security on his end. Also, I think couples counselling will help and he's open to that, thankfully. As for his income, I also contribute the same amount of income, so I'm not dependent on him, but yes I wouldn't be able to support us both easily. I agree, leaving the house is important, and I do that, but I just get hurt when I am home, and he doesn't spend quality time with me. He's just typing and working til he gets to have his real fun with his friends. It just hurts. I need to break down what my needs are.

silivrentoliel: Yes, date night is a great idea and he likes that idea! We are going to start scheduling two date nights a week. I did put reminders on his smartphone with him but he ignores all of them and goes back to work. :( He even forgets to eat lunch every day but it is what it is. If you know the program that helps with reminders, that would help, thank you!

RedHairedWitch: Great date ideas. Melatonin is a great idea too - never thought of that! i will ask him about it. Can you take that and be on ADHD meds? I'm ok with him hanging out with his friends, it's just one friend in particular that irks me....

Mittens: Sounds like you totally get it. Thanks for your suggestions. Yah, I do separate him from the ADHD but almost to the point where I blame everything on his ADHD and I think there comes a point where he has to own up to it...it can't be an excuse for everything, right? I feel like my needs should try to be met too. I'm not a parent or a slave or just a roommate. Is this how it's destined to be with someone with ADHD? I just find my own hobbies, interests and people to be with ...and in the end, we barely connect? This isn't to say you're advice wasn't awesome...it is...I just need more help and have more questions. I agree people on here are great and so helpful. I need to break down what my needs are. Good point about phrasing -- I've been a nag because I don't know what else to do...but maybe I need to ask for things differently. Great post!

THANK YOU EVERYONE, you don't know how much this advice means to me.

RedHairedWitch
02-22-14, 05:26 PM
RedHairedWitch: Great date ideas. Melatonin is a great idea too - never thought of that! i will ask him about it. Can you take that and be on ADHD meds? I'm ok with him hanging out with his friends, it's just one friend in particular that irks me....


Can't give medical advice, but I do know many ADHDers do take melatonin with their meds. Check with his doc, just to be safe. And start giving him chamomile tea before bedtime.

There will always be one friend who irks you lol :rolleyes:

One trick to using reminders is set really, really annoying or special ring tones. I use heavy metal songs with squealing guitars. A certain song for very important reminders, another for not so important reminders. I am trained to obey the important reminder, to the point I actually get a spike of adrenaline when it goes off! Also you never set the reminder to go off once. You set it multiple times. Once the day before, once in the morning, and once and hour before and once when it should be happening. Phone-nag.

What kind of phone OS does he have? Android, I-phone etc?

For date nights, also send him a text once during the day telling him how excited you are, or that you'll be picking up the wine on the way home etc. Something that is a reminder without you actually reminding him. :giggle: And sometimes, you just gotta stand there in your "going out clothes" until he gets off the damned computer.
One silly trick that works very well with my man is to wander by in my underwear and make some comment about how I'll be ready for our date in 20 minutes (as if I'm the one running late). Nothing gets a man off his computer chair like a pair of panties. ;)

RedHairedWitch
02-22-14, 07:03 PM
Is this how it's destined to be with someone with ADHD? I just find my own hobbies, interests and people to be with ...and in the end, we barely connect? This isn't to say you're advice wasn't awesome...it is...I just need more help and have more questions. I agree people on here are great and so helpful. I need to break down what my needs are.


Maybe it's the ADHD, but I've never understood why other women require a man to have their needs met? :scratch:

And most women I know have rather A LOT of needs, that really are more like wants.

My man is the chocolate syrup on my sundae, not the entire dish. I am fully capable of having a good life, all my needs met, without him. He just helps make life a little sweeter and easier.

Now, if your man is dumping vinegar on your ice cream, that's a whole other problem.

ToneTone
02-22-14, 07:49 PM
Hi Michaela23,

I'm of the school that says it's not really important whether this is "normal" for ADHD or not. What's important is that you are miserable. If it were "normal," so what?! That doesn't mean that your situation is fair or sustainable.

If you are going to play the role of parent and executive assistant and wake him up in the morning and ensure that he remember appointments and ensure that he completes chores--and by the way doing this can be exhausting because you have to think for two people--then you have a right to have him pay attention to you and spend time with you in a way the you want. Period.

It sounds to me like he's taking for granted all that you do to help him function, and so you are frustrated and exhausted. Well I can see that. There's a major imbalance here. We all have limitations and yes we ADHDers need support and understanding. But that support should probably be open and "on the table," meaning not taken for granted.

I have ADHD and I was married to someone who had another difficult condition. There was a lot of destructive behavior my ex did that was "normal" for someone with her condition. I decided I couldn't deal with her behavior, condition or no condition. But here's the thing: had she been willing to own up to her behavior and to apologize for it when she lashed out without warning or cause … and if she worked to minimized the effect of her condition on me, I would have felt very much differently than I felt at the time. But she did none of those things.

We all have weaknesses and quirks whether ADHD or not, and our goal--if we want to have a good relationship with a partner--is to be aware of the cost of our condition on our partner and to consciously take steps to minimize the impact on our partner. Now you've played a role here, because it sounds like you have taken on the role of parent without making clear how exhausting this is to you. You need to speak up so he knows what you're really feeling and thinking.

Is your husband aware of how much you have to do to help him along? Does he go out of his way to thank you for all that you do? Does he set up some special treats to compensate or offset all that you do to allow him to function? Don't get lost on is this "normal."

Those would be my questions.

Good luck.

Tone

VeryTired
02-22-14, 09:45 PM
Tone--

Thank you so much for your beautifully expressed post. I hope Michaela finds it as valuable as I do! As I read this, I realized that I certainly have not spoken up clearly and directly enough to my partner to tell him how I feel in this regard. (I am not sure how I can communicate that to him and be heard, actually, but that's another problem.)

Anyway, what I really appreciate in what you said is your generosity of spirit. My dream is that my partner will one day begin to think about our situation in the way you described here. Owning up to the reality of one's behavior, and minimizing harm to the people one loves seems like the exact right foundation for a successful life together.

RedHairedWitch--

I agree with you that one should be able to meet one's needs by oneself, for the most part. But there are powerful reasons why many people want to open their lives so fully to a partner that both people' autonomy are affected. And it's easily possible, once you open yourself that fully to someone else, for them to do some harm inadvertently, or to diminish one's ability to meet one's own needs. If one's partner has a lot of needs, one may find oneself directing one's finite energies toward his needs rather than toward one's own … There's nothing wrong with people taking care of and sustaining each other, as long as it stays in balance and works for both people.

TLCisaQT
02-22-14, 11:49 PM
This is really difficult, and from experience, I get a little of this. More, the staying up late and going to bed alone. Insomnia was and still can be a big issue for my husband, especially when his meds wear off, and his thoughts run wild and a lot of worry.

A lot of Adhd'ers gave some really good suggestions and feedback. My husband actually used to do that sometimes when I used to mention how I didn't like going to bed without him. He used to come and lay down with me, and then when I fell asleep, he would go back out to watch TV or go on his computer. It worked a little better for me.

I learned early in our marriage that my expectations of how married people spent time together and my husband's idea was not the same. It has been lonely at times. I pretty much have had to change my expectations and also realize when we had children, that I was going to have to handle them most of the time.

Take the advice given here, some of it is really good. Some of your expectations aren't too much, and some may need to shift or the perspective may need to change a little. It has taken me time, and I'm still learning, that I was going to have to be the one to start meeting my needs, not relying upon somebody else, as it wasn't fair. It's a constant battle. I hope you both can figure it out.

We are here for whatever support you need.

execfunc
02-23-14, 02:01 AM
Hi, michaela23. I'm essentially on the same page as ToneTone, and I'll add a bit more, as a guy who used to be more like your husband.

My girl does for me all the stuff you mentioned doing for your husband, and more. Early on in our relationship she had me figured out and, amazingly, instinctively knew how to handle me (which is what made it clear that she's my soulmate). I can say without exaggeration that her patience, understanding, and ingenious influence has been the first successful cognitive behavioral therapy I've experienced. She got me through before my diagnosis last year, and continues to do so. She takes up a lot of slack in this relationship in the many areas where I'm deficient, but it's not a free ride for me. She insists on recognition and reciprocity, even though her insistence is not explicitly stated and her expectations of how I reciprocate never exceed my abilities (even when it may be a strain for me to utilize those abilities).

Like your husband, I'm absentminded, careless, forgetful, lacking focus, along with the addition of a common ADHD trait you didn't mention, emotional volatility. These things drove away all other women who took a gamble on emotional investment with me. She never gave up on me, but always made it clear that this was based on her intuitive certainty that not only was a great guy inside, but that I could, and likely would, learn to manage the above-mentioned issues. She was right, and while it has been a tremendous struggle for me (and her), the growth I've experienced as a man through the gentle, loving, yet unyielding appeal to my heart's desire to drag myself up to a place where I could see that, yes, I did deserve this love … well, it's really phenomenal.

Anyway, I guess what I'm getting at is that she has always found ways to make me, in a very nonjudgemental and non-manipulative way, push myself to be better: to snap out of it, and be there in the moment with her, to come back to the joy of us (not me being with her and somewhere else at the same time), to participate in the soulful unity of mindful love. Sounds corny, I'm sure, but this is all new to me in terms of love and remarkable, if somewhat brief, suspension of ADHD symptoms that had always resisted my desperate efforts.

I don't take my fiancée for granted. Even now, on medication and in therapy, I forget a lot. Once in a while, though, it strikes me just how good she is to me, and it's very emotional. I usually thank God, then tell her right away, do whatever I have to do to remember to tell her when we next meet, or I find a way to immediately show her. I am not an easy man to live with, but she's made me into what appears to be a pleasant, worthwhile, and desirable companion! I'm no better than your husband, and I can't say what will work for you two. I don't know his ADHD or your abilities to handle it with the same firmness as my girl always has. I don't, however, think you're asking for anything unreasonable or beyond his consideration, at least. It will probably take time. Time is something that we with ADHD have a tenuous, at best, relationship with, generally.

(Hey, look, another prolix, meandering cascade of words from execfunc …)

kilted_scotsman
02-23-14, 05:40 AM
I'm with RedHairedWitch on the needs thing.....

Far too many people (men and women) look to their partners to fill "needs" and rush from one relationship to the next trying to find someone to fill all those needs.....

Unfortunately those needs are usually just insecurities.... which manifest in other ways when in relationship.

RedHairedWitch
02-23-14, 11:33 AM
RedHairedWitch--

I agree with you that one should be able to meet one's needs by oneself, for the most part. But there are powerful reasons why many people want to open their lives so fully to a partner that both people' autonomy are affected. And it's easily possible, once you open yourself that fully to someone else, for them to do some harm inadvertently, or to diminish one's ability to meet one's own needs. If one's partner has a lot of needs, one may find oneself directing one's finite energies toward his needs rather than toward one's own … There's nothing wrong with people taking care of and sustaining each other, as long as it stays in balance and works for both people.


Generally, this is not how people with ADHD (or Aspergers, among other things) operate in relationships.
Hence the often very imbalanced relationship with an NT. They open up and and try to fulfill their partners needs, expecting their needs to be met in reciprocation. Trying to fuse two lives into a single unit.
The non-NT fails to respond in likewise manner, but is happy to accept the "help" they get from their partner, assuming that you wouldn't do it if you didn't want to. And carry on as if they are in a more independent style of relationship.

So you have one person thinking they are in a "co-dependent" relationship that is out of balance and unfair. And another person who thinks they are in an "autonomous" relationship where one person seems to volunteer to do more work for some reason. :doh:This effects everything from chores, to sex, to finances, to emotional support, to affection, to child rearing.

The NT holds out the hope that they can somehow teach the non-NT partner how to behave properly in an co-depenent relationship ... not realizing that some people simply aren't made for it. Which is why when ever we get a new non-ADHD spouse posting here, the first thing we ask them is if things don't change, can they still be happy?

Greengrasshoppe
02-23-14, 01:26 PM
IME it seems like this is normal for ADHDers but the veterans here will gave to weigh in. I'm reading the ADHD Effect now but helps.

Typos above. I meant, IME it seems like this is normal for ADHDers but the veterans here will have to weigh in. I'm reading the ADHD Effect now, it helps.

Greengrasshoppe
02-23-14, 01:42 PM
Brilliant post, Red. Generally, this is not how people with ADHD (or Aspergers, among other things) operate in relationships.
Hence the often very imbalanced relationship with an NT. They open up and and try to fulfill their partners needs, expecting their needs to be met in reciprocation. Trying to fuse two lives into a single unit.
The non-NT fails to respond in likewise manner, but is happy to accept the "help" they get from their partner, assuming that you wouldn't do it if you didn't want to. And carry on as if they are in a more independent style of relationship.

So you have one person thinking they are in a "co-dependent" relationship that is out of balance and unfair. And another person who thinks they are in an "autonomous" relationship where one person seems to volunteer to do more work for some reason. :doh:This effects everything from chores, to sex, to finances, to emotional support, to affection, to child rearing.

The NT holds out the hope that they can somehow teach the non-NT partner how to behave properly in an co-depenent relationship ... not realizing that some people simply aren't made for it. Which is why when ever we get a new non-ADHD spouse posting here, the first thing we ask them is if things don't change, can they still be happy?

sarahsweets
02-23-14, 03:35 PM
I think in any relationship, if one person has to "teach" the other partner, its not a relationship, its finishing school.

VeryTired
02-23-14, 03:46 PM
RHW--

I think you have really done a brilliant job describing something very important and very real here. I always admire your directness and clarity, but this time you have brought them into an area of relationships that is often shadowy and dangerous, so it's particularly valuable. I'm sorry if I am deflecting Michaela's original thread, but what you just said is so important I want to continue the discussion further on this point.

I have two responses to what you wrote about NT/nonNT couples. First, I think your characterization of how these relationships can go is extremely insightful, but I am not entirely comfortable with the term "co-dependent". I'm not sure if you were using it in the pop-psych way or not, but in either case it doesn't feel exactly right to me. But that's a small point.

Here's the other thing, more personal. I would characterize myself as unusually independent, far more so than most women or even people in general that I know. It's important to me, and it's part of me. But it was from a position of independence and autonomy that I sought to form a partnership with someone else who initially presented himself to me as extremely independent and autonomous also. There was a lot going on at the start of our relationship, and lots of confusion, but when the dust cleared, I was supporting both of us financially, I was the source of the constant emotional and logistical support my partner urgently demanded, I did the bulk of our household chores, and he seemed to take my independence for granted 100% of the time when it came to my needs, but 0% of the time when it came to his needing my resources.

I was horrified,and thought about leaving simply because of this drastic imbalance. But then I thought, don't kick a good man when he's down, and how would I feel if I were in trouble, and someone abandoned me specifically because I was in need? So, we're still together now, and I am waiting to see whether this can change or not. Not because I expect his ADHD to by magically fixed, but because some of the life crises that have surrounded us are now resolved or getting sorted out. So I'm waiting to see how much mutually supportive autonomy we can attain minus the unemployment, health crises, etc and with the advantage of his still newish diagnosis and treatment for ADHD.

I didn't get into this relationship thinking someone else would fix my problems or make my life OK. I assume that I will fix my own problems and my life was pretty good already. But I did believe that autonomous partners can choose each other and offer loving mutual support when it's needed. And I assumed that we would both be contributing to the emotional economy of our relationship. It took me a very long time to understand that despite a lot of talk from him about this in the beginning, my partner wasn't even trying to do this, and probably didn't know how--and even if he did, presently was unable to do so.

I really understand about why everyone new here gets the question about "if it doesn't change, are you OK with it?". But I think if there were a board for people with ADD looking for support in their relationships with NTs, they should similarly be greeted with questions about whether they have absorbed the wisdom that ToneTone and ExecFunc have expressed regarding their relationships. ToneTone said:

"We all have limitations and yes we ADHDers need support and understanding. But that support should probably be open and "on the table," meaning not taken for granted."
[sorry, I never figured out how to do the quotes …]

For me, this is the key thing. I would suggest that ADHD partners in relationships with non-ADHD partners should be asking themselves whether they take or assume support without asking/negotiating it with their partners. I feel, with the utmost respect for the intentions and capabilities of people with ADHD, that they have equal responsibilities in their relationships as do people who do not have ADHD. I'm not saying identical, I'm saying equal. And taking at least 50% of the responsibility for how one's ADHD affects one's partner seems like a good starting point.

I value the discussion here greatly, and I hope very much that all the usual people (and perhaps others as well!) will choose to respond to what I've said in this post. These questions matter hugely for many of us, so I think I am not the only one who will benefit from hearing more perspectives.

thanks in advance--

ToneTone
02-23-14, 08:12 PM
ExecFunc,

Brother, that was downright poetic! …

Based on that post, make sure you write her some notes. To … "be there in the moment with her, to come back to the joy of us (not me being with her and somewhere else at the same time), to participate in the soulful unity of mindful love." Man, that's not corny. That's beautiful! Keep up the good work!

It sounds to me like your partner did a honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses and then proceeded to move forward on a deep hunch of your potential and your basic goodness. I think that is one of the issues here. Ideally, all of us would probably benefit from a really honest assessment of our partners … and then we can mindfully decide whether or not we want to go forward. She made a conscious decision and took a conscious risk and from the way you're describing it, I would bet she thinks the risk is paying off.

VeryTired, I like your latest post a lot. I'm guess there is a divide here. For me and what I want in relationships, I don't think "autonomy" or being "independent" is the answer to a partner who doesn't reciprocate. Yes, we have to have reasonable expectations, but I see reciprocity and the 50 percent effort and contribution that you mention as fully reasonable--in fact I see that as a basic required minimum. .

I believe all humans, ADHERS included, have gifts and strengths, and ADHD or no ADHD, the job of a partner is to work to use whatever gifts and strengths they have to love and support the other partner. In the absence of the full reciprocity, there has to be at the very least a full acknowledge of the lack of reciprocity. Again, to me, that's a non-negotiable minimum.

I don't think it's insecure at all to view a partnership this way. Just the opposite. It was my insecurity and lack of independence that allowed me to put up with such thoughtless and borderline abusive behavior for as long as I did when I was working around my ex's condition.

I know this issue is a trickier issue when you are already married. I was so miserable that I was willing to divorce. We had no children, which also made that decision easier.

The original poster is not married, and so I don't want to counsel her to lower her "expectations" at this point. I think her job is to find the best possible relationship the will make her happy, not contort herself around all that makes her miserable. Though it is admittedly hard sometimes to tell the difference, I still think there is a HUGE difference between compromising and adjusting and contorting yourself around misery.

Interesting discussion … and I think it goes far beyond being partnered with someone with ADHD. I think this same issue comes up in all relationships. And in my case, the issue had to do with my not being honest (before the marriage) about my partners flaws and whether or not I could live with those flaws. My partner's behavior didn't suddenly deteriorate after we got married. It was pretty much there all along and it had driven me crazy all along.

Tone

TLCisaQT
02-23-14, 10:30 PM
VeryTired and RedHaired:

I find ALOT of reasonability in what BOTH of you have said and feel it can be true depending on the situation and relationship.
I do believe that some people can become co-dependent in a relationship, in the name of caring for another person and having a good heart; however, begin to enable another person and put their own needs at risk, trying desperately to get their needs met by another person, only to be disappointed, and the relationship just becomes toxic. They stay together and it's not good for anyone.
However, I get was VeryTired is saying. Sometimes we go into relationships with good intentions and "promises" and then somebody struggles or "changes" and there are things that become deal breakers or different than it was supposed to be. this can be based on expectations on either end, or they truly thought it could be that way.

Whether each partner puts in or does 50 percent, I believe that each partner has to give 100% EFFORT for it to work. I stay with my husband not so much because when I keep track, he gives 50 percent, but I'm more content when I know he at least is trying and willing to go to the dr, take his meds, etc.

I get frustrated when he is more defiant about it, and when he's contributing to, or being part of my stress. For example, if I have to deal with the kids driving me crazy - would I love for him to come out and help take care of the kids? Heck ya, but if that means he's going to come out and yell at them and threaten to spank them every second and be unreasonable, then he is better off staying away, because that is NOT helpful.

So, I have more tolerance for continued betterment. If someone is trying, then great. If someone continues to suck me dry, and isn't going to try to better themselves to possibly help out more, or at least not suck me as dry... then I have to start deciding at which point enough is enough. That decision is ALOT easier BEFORE you marry someone and WITHOUT kids.

I don't even know how much of this made sense.

michaela23
02-24-14, 08:20 AM
Maybe it's the ADHD, but I've never understood why other women require a man to have their needs met? :scratch:

And most women I know have rather A LOT of needs, that really are more like wants.

My man is the chocolate syrup on my sundae, not the entire dish. I am fully capable of having a good life, all my needs met, without him. He just helps make life a little sweeter and easier.

Now, if your man is dumping vinegar on your ice cream, that's a whole other problem.

Hey, RDH, thanks for your post. :) I totally agree with you that in a healthy relationship, one shouldn't be co-dependent. I think when I was saying "getting my needs" met -- I meant my needs in a relationship.

I hear you on being an independent woman, trust me!

michaela23
02-24-14, 08:26 AM
Hi Michaela23,

I'm of the school that says it's not really important whether this is "normal" for ADHD or not. What's important is that you are miserable. If it were "normal," so what?! That doesn't mean that your situation is fair or sustainable.

If you are going to play the role of parent and executive assistant and wake him up in the morning and ensure that he remember appointments and ensure that he completes chores--and by the way doing this can be exhausting because you have to think for two people--then you have a right to have him pay attention to you and spend time with you in a way the you want. Period.

It sounds to me like he's taking for granted all that you do to help him function, and so you are frustrated and exhausted. Well I can see that. There's a major imbalance here. We all have limitations and yes we ADHDers need support and understanding. But that support should probably be open and "on the table," meaning not taken for granted.

I have ADHD and I was married to someone who had another difficult condition. There was a lot of destructive behavior my ex did that was "normal" for someone with her condition. I decided I couldn't deal with her behavior, condition or no condition. But here's the thing: had she been willing to own up to her behavior and to apologize for it when she lashed out without warning or cause … and if she worked to minimized the effect of her condition on me, I would have felt very much differently than I felt at the time. But she did none of those things.

We all have weaknesses and quirks whether ADHD or not, and our goal--if we want to have a good relationship with a partner--is to be aware of the cost of our condition on our partner and to consciously take steps to minimize the impact on our partner. Now you've played a role here, because it sounds like you have taken on the role of parent without making clear how exhausting this is to you. You need to speak up so he knows what you're really feeling and thinking.

Is your husband aware of how much you have to do to help him along? Does he go out of his way to thank you for all that you do? Does he set up some special treats to compensate or offset all that you do to allow him to function? Don't get lost on is this "normal."

Those would be my questions.

Good luck.

Tone

Hey ToneTone, thanks so much! You're right, I need to stop using the word "normal". I'm sorry to hear about your ex-wife. Sounds like it was really hard. And she never apologized for lashing out? That's too bad.

My husband does apologize and he's got an open heart. I'm just tired and sometimes I'd like some of his attention as he hyperfocuses on work a lot.

He is aware of how much I do for him. I'm not a wallflower about it - I tell him. He doesn't set up special treats to thank me because he forgets to do stuff like that. He's hyperfocused on work because it's not going well right now and that's all he can think about. However, I did tell him that I will go on dates with him out of the house and do stuff with him (since he feels cooped up all day), and he liked the idea. We'll see how it goes.

Thanks again.

michaela23
02-24-14, 08:29 AM
This is really difficult, and from experience, I get a little of this. More, the staying up late and going to bed alone. Insomnia was and still can be a big issue for my husband, especially when his meds wear off, and his thoughts run wild and a lot of worry.

A lot of Adhd'ers gave some really good suggestions and feedback. My husband actually used to do that sometimes when I used to mention how I didn't like going to bed without him. He used to come and lay down with me, and then when I fell asleep, he would go back out to watch TV or go on his computer. It worked a little better for me.

I learned early in our marriage that my expectations of how married people spent time together and my husband's idea was not the same. It has been lonely at times. I pretty much have had to change my expectations and also realize when we had children, that I was going to have to handle them most of the time.

Take the advice given here, some of it is really good. Some of your expectations aren't too much, and some may need to shift or the perspective may need to change a little. It has taken me time, and I'm still learning, that I was going to have to be the one to start meeting my needs, not relying upon somebody else, as it wasn't fair. It's a constant battle. I hope you both can figure it out.

We are here for whatever support you need.

Thanks, TLCisa, you seem to be in a similar boat to me. That's so funny about the lying down thing, we do that too!

Yes, I've gotten to used to things not being common in other people's marriages as well. Like my husband staying up all night to work and him going out with friends late at night.

How did you figure out how to change your perspective? I would love to hear more.

Have you guys had children yet? I want to have children as well and I'm wondering how that's going to go too.

Thank you for the support! :)

michaela23
02-24-14, 08:33 AM
Hi, michaela23. I'm essentially on the same page as ToneTone, and I'll add a bit more, as a guy who used to be more like your husband.

My girl does for me all the stuff you mentioned doing for your husband, and more. Early on in our relationship she had me figured out and, amazingly, instinctively knew how to handle me (which is what made it clear that she's my soulmate). I can say without exaggeration that her patience, understanding, and ingenious influence has been the first successful cognitive behavioral therapy I've experienced. She got me through before my diagnosis last year, and continues to do so. She takes up a lot of slack in this relationship in the many areas where I'm deficient, but it's not a free ride for me. She insists on recognition and reciprocity, even though her insistence is not explicitly stated and her expectations of how I reciprocate never exceed my abilities (even when it may be a strain for me to utilize those abilities).

Like your husband, I'm absentminded, careless, forgetful, lacking focus, along with the addition of a common ADHD trait you didn't mention, emotional volatility. These things drove away all other women who took a gamble on emotional investment with me. She never gave up on me, but always made it clear that this was based on her intuitive certainty that not only was a great guy inside, but that I could, and likely would, learn to manage the above-mentioned issues. She was right, and while it has been a tremendous struggle for me (and her), the growth I've experienced as a man through the gentle, loving, yet unyielding appeal to my heart's desire to drag myself up to a place where I could see that, yes, I did deserve this love … well, it's really phenomenal.

Anyway, I guess what I'm getting at is that she has always found ways to make me, in a very nonjudgemental and non-manipulative way, push myself to be better: to snap out of it, and be there in the moment with her, to come back to the joy of us (not me being with her and somewhere else at the same time), to participate in the soulful unity of mindful love. Sounds corny, I'm sure, but this is all new to me in terms of love and remarkable, if somewhat brief, suspension of ADHD symptoms that had always resisted my desperate efforts.

I don't take my fiancée for granted. Even now, on medication and in therapy, I forget a lot. Once in a while, though, it strikes me just how good she is to me, and it's very emotional. I usually thank God, then tell her right away, do whatever I have to do to remember to tell her when we next meet, or I find a way to immediately show her. I am not an easy man to live with, but she's made me into what appears to be a pleasant, worthwhile, and desirable companion! I'm no better than your husband, and I can't say what will work for you two. I don't know his ADHD or your abilities to handle it with the same firmness as my girl always has. I don't, however, think you're asking for anything unreasonable or beyond his consideration, at least. It will probably take time. Time is something that we with ADHD have a tenuous, at best, relationship with, generally.

(Hey, look, another prolix, meandering cascade of words from execfunc …)

Execfunc, your girl is awesome! And you really appreciate her and that's so beautiful!

I helped my husband get diagnosed -- he went his whole life until we met without being diagnosed. He was grateful for that. I help him out with his daily life but now that we're almost at two years of being married, I do feel like he takes me for granted.

You said this: "She insists on recognition and reciprocity, even though her insistence is not explicitly stated and her expectations of how I reciprocate never exceed my abilities (even when it may be a strain for me to utilize those abilities)."

How do I insist on recognition and reciprocity without seeming like a nag?

Thank you so much for your post!

michaela23
02-24-14, 08:35 AM
Generally, this is not how people with ADHD (or Aspergers, among other things) operate in relationships.
Hence the often very imbalanced relationship with an NT. They open up and and try to fulfill their partners needs, expecting their needs to be met in reciprocation. Trying to fuse two lives into a single unit.
The non-NT fails to respond in likewise manner, but is happy to accept the "help" they get from their partner, assuming that you wouldn't do it if you didn't want to. And carry on as if they are in a more independent style of relationship.

So you have one person thinking they are in a "co-dependent" relationship that is out of balance and unfair. And another person who thinks they are in an "autonomous" relationship where one person seems to volunteer to do more work for some reason. :doh:This effects everything from chores, to sex, to finances, to emotional support, to affection, to child rearing.

The NT holds out the hope that they can somehow teach the non-NT partner how to behave properly in an co-depenent relationship ... not realizing that some people simply aren't made for it. Which is why when ever we get a new non-ADHD spouse posting here, the first thing we ask them is if things don't change, can they still be happy?

Hey, RHW, forgive me, I don't know the term "NT," is that an intuitive type or something? My husband has a big heart and is a feeler as well.

VeryTired
02-24-14, 09:33 AM
Tone--

Again, thanks. You are so right that we are talking about something that goes far beyond just relations where one partner has ADHD. And I appreciate your sensitivity to the original poster's situation, as well as your general view of relationships.

TLC--

Your phrase "continual betterment" strikes me. I agree. It worries me when I read advice of the 'this is all there is, get used to it' variety because it seems to me to assume that people can't grown and change. Surely one outcome of successful relationships is or can be that both parties change and develop in positive ways, according to their own goals and wishes (and not their partners' whims).

RedHairedWitch
02-24-14, 11:00 AM
Hey, RHW, forgive me, I don't know the term "NT," is that an intuitive type or something? My husband has a big heart and is a feeler as well.


NT = Neuro Typical. Meaning operating with a normal brain. It was started by the autistic community.

RedHairedWitch
02-24-14, 11:06 AM
Hey, RDH, thanks for your post. :) I totally agree with you that in a healthy relationship, one shouldn't be co-dependent. I think when I was saying "getting my needs" met -- I meant my needs in a relationship.

I hear you on being an independent woman, trust me!


I may have used too strong a word, not knowing what else to use to describe it. I meant people who actually have a long list of needs in a relationship (many of which are actually wants) and who expect their partner to fulfill them, even if they can't.

I've always been curious about the NT concept of needs in a relationship. I'd be hard pressed to come up with more than three myself. I don't fully grasp the requirement that your partner must "make" you happy, I feel that's placed upon the individual. As I said earlier in the thread, Ice cream, chocolate sauce or vinegar.

What are your need in a relationship? Have you articulated them to your man in a way that he understands? Are there some that he thinks he cannot perform to your hopes?

execfunc
02-24-14, 09:32 PM
You said this: "She insists on recognition and reciprocity, even though her insistence is not explicitly stated and her expectations of how I reciprocate never exceed my abilities (even when it may be a strain for me to utilize those abilities)."

How do I insist on recognition and reciprocity without seeming like a nag?

Thank you so much for your post!

You're very welcome.

To answer your question, if I may be frank, expressing how your husband's behavior hurts you is not nagging, in my opinion. He and I are two entirely different people, so I can't make judgments or assumptions about him. For me, though, when I began to take stock of the enormity of my fiancée's patience and understanding with me, and her willingness to compensate for deficits I'd always been hindered by, I was greatly humbled and grateful. This humility and gratitude have since been a token of my responsibility to strive to acknowledge all she does for me, do all I can for her in return, and when, because of my ADHD symptoms, I do something dumb that hurts her, to quickly own up to it and drop everything to rectify the matter. It has taken a lot of practice for me to integrate this unnatural behavior (unnatural because of ADHD) into my daily life, but I am pleased to say that I have. Again, she's been patient all along as I've gotten better at this, but the patience was predicated upon my willingness to at least try. And there, of course, days when I fail. Such is life for anyone.

If you haven't yet, do a little amateur research into cognitive behavioral therapy. ADHD does indeed put us at a distinct disadvantage in most areas of life, but we can learn ways to overcome (but never fully eradicate) those disadvantages, especially after finding a successful medication regimen. I've found that the faulty neurological structure and chemistry are one thing, but the behaviors and habits we develop before treating it are quite another, and must be reckoned with once the physiological aspects are addressed. I have a book on order from Amazon recommended by my psychiatrist called "Mastering Your Adult ADHD: A Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program Client Workbook." I still have plenty of work to do.

Greengrasshoppe
02-24-14, 11:05 PM
Then, when he comes up for hair, he'll go out at 10 p.m. at night til about 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. with a friend for a drink or for a walk a couple times a week. The other times, he'll power watch some TV with me and then go back to the computer and work all night. Usually, I go to bed almost every night alone.

I feel lonely and depressed. Is this normal for an ADHD person? Why do they do this and will they ever stop?

My biggest thing is that I'm hurt he goes and has his fun with his boys instead of wanting to stay with me. He says he has to go get his energy out -- he works from home so he feels couped up and I go to bed early so he figures it makes sense. How come he doesn't get that he should be at home with his wife -- or is it going out with your guy friends twice a week normal when your married?

Sad and LonelyIm going through something similar, btw. Thanks for sharing your experience. I don't feel so alone now.

TLCisaQT
03-02-14, 06:39 PM
How did you figure out how to change your perspective? I would love to hear more.

Have you guys had children yet? I want to have children as well and I'm wondering how that's going to go too.

Thank you for the support! :)

Well changing my perspective is a work in progress STILL :) We have been married almost 13 years hehe. Therapy, lots of it - definitely helps lol. I guess realizing that marriage and relationships in general are not fairytales or as Hollywood depicts. Also that everybody struggles in "normal" relationships. It's not a man's job to save a damsel in distress - you get where I'm going :) It's even more true when you bring disabilities etc into the equation, especially those that aren't as visible.
I've had to learn to not take things as personally, and learn that people communicate differently, and things can be interpreted in different ways.
Relationships are HARD work.

Yes, we have children. We have an 8 yr old daughter, who has a pretty severe case of ADHD/OCD/Anxiety. We also have a 7 yr old daughter. I would say that most of our problems increased with children. His symptoms increased when our oldest came and especially when her ADHD became more and more manifest and he found it extremely difficult to handle her and her behaviors (it still is a constant challenge). I find it exhausting as a wife, and mother and my patience and sanity over the last several years has really thinned!!! :)

Well seems like you are getting some really good advice on here, hope it helps you in making a really informed decision.

Greengrasshoppe
07-13-14, 07:29 PM
lol I don't think the OP was asking going out with friends was normal. I think she meant working so much then going out with friends *late at night* and not spending time with your wife...

aeon
07-14-14, 03:03 PM
How do I insist on recognition and reciprocity without seeming like a nag?

Simple - don't insist - ask him.

Ask him if he would be able and willing to help you meet your need.

Regardless of the answer, you've done your part - you've taken ownership of your own needs, communicated them in a respectful (to yourself and him) way, and offered him an opportunity for relationship building and greater intimacy.

I know when I am asked (by my NT sweetie) in such a manner I feel loved. I also feel valued that she would ask for my help. It also communicates her trust of me that she would engage with me openly and vulnerably.

I love her so I am always willing, but sometimes I am not able to at that point in time so I must say no and offer why. I also then make sure to let her know when I would be able to help, and then return to the need (and her) later.

That process is respectful of boundaries, and it preserves responsibility and autonomy. I think it also encourages growth and investment in oneself and each other.

I value those things so need-based self-awareness, self-expression, receipt of other, and reciprocity are important to me.

Granted, it isn't easy, and it will ask a lot of yourself and of your partner. That said, the reward is so great that I think and feel it is worth the effort involved, very much so.


Blesséd be,
Ian