View Full Version : question for non-ADD spouses


barbedwire
03-23-14, 10:27 PM
My spouse will tell me that he is going to do something, but then does not follow through. What is your advice? Should I just do the task myself, never ask for his help? He has not pursued getting professional help or medication, even though we have discussed it.

dvdnvwls
03-24-14, 01:04 AM
Hello, and welcome to the forum. I have ADHD - I hope it's all right to say something.

If you keep getting the same unwanted result, try differently next time. Be creative.

After many times around the same problem, I will unfortunately just say "yes" to get you off my back, knowing I can't keep my promise, but not seeing any other possible solution. If I was to get bold and say "no, I know for a fact that I won't be doing that so I might as well be honest", then I'm afraid what your response might be.

You're probably right that he "should" - but "should" is worthless. Throw away all the shoulds, and replace them with the two of you working together somehow, any way that gets the job done, to get the needed result. Split the work unequally. Find out what he can't do, and help figure out tricks to get him out of doing it. Find out what he can do, and rearrange the work load so he takes on more of whatever that is. Example - He doesn't clean the kitchen properly? Maybe he should be doing the cooking instead. And so on.

sarahsweets
03-24-14, 04:24 AM
I know that if my life were ever measured by what I followed through on I would get a failing grade. Sometimes you have to decide whats really important and make sure you explain why its important. You cant have 2 things be equally important, like taking out the trash and paying the water bill. The trash can be overlooked or done at a later date but the water will get shut off if you dont take care of it. If I need something super important to BOTH of us to get done we divide up what needs to be done by how important it is and then remind each other to do it without judgement or nagging.

RedHairedWitch
03-24-14, 08:57 AM
Deadlines can be helpful. It's one thing to agree that you'll call a doctor, it's another to agree to call a doctor by next Monday.

Non-judgmental reminders can be helpful. No emotion attached, just the reminder. "Have you had the chance to call the doctor yet? It's already Thursday. Man, the week goes by fast eh?"

Some ADHDers are good at starting things but not finishing. Some are good at finishing things but terrible at starting them. Figure out which way he goes. Does he need extra push or help to start something, or to finish it?

VeryTired
03-24-14, 10:33 AM
Hi, and welcome!

Your question is very brief, and I think a lot depends on whether your husband wants to do what he promises and just can't, forgets that he promised, didn't really pay attention to what you were asking, even knows that you feel this way, or what. There can be a lot of different things that contribute to this situation.

I wouldn't recommend just doing everything yourself--if you do, eventually you'll reach a point where it feels unfair to you to do it all yourself. I think it would probably be helpful of both of you to learn some more about ADHD, and how it may be affecting your lives. There are also some good books about ADHD and relationships.

Good luck with everything, and let us know how you are doing--

Stevuke79
03-24-14, 10:55 AM
Mrs. Stevuke79? Honey, is that you? I didn't know you joined this forum!NOh wait, .. Must be another husband somewhere just like me. (Just kidding!!)

Do not just do it yourself! You can't be the only one doing chores and errands, he has to help!!

Do you know what the difference between ADHD and laziness is? When it's ADHD you make it one of your life pursuits to overcome. If it's laziness, then you just let your wife do it. (Laziness can be a comorbid)

Unfortunately only he can figure this out. But you got a lot of good advice. Reminders, tell him at the time you want something. Deferred tasks are REALLY hard for some people (me) (deferred task: "Do this,.. But wait 5 minutes first") But when my wife makes that request, it's on me to see that's a problem and either set an alarm, make a routine out of it, or ask for a reminder (or sometimes you have to decline the task; but declining is far better than saying "ok" and not doing it)

TLCisaQT
04-14-14, 01:27 AM
I wish I knew the solution to this....

I tried to keep up and do it all... then realized I couldn't... I started letting things get pretty messy....because when it got REALLY bad, he started helping out or pitching in a LITTLE a times. However, our house is a mess and cluttered, sending my anxiety through the roof, only emergency things get fixed and done in our house; and even when I try to do things, I get too overwhelmed as it's hard to catch up on YEARS of undone work in a day or two....

So..... wish I knew..... I've lost the war on our home front.

The other day, I broke down crying (it's ant season in California and bad at our house) and told my husband I was really tired of living his way. He truly heard me and truly cared and we came up with a plan to do a little each day to try to get the house more organized.... I appreciated it; however, after years of his good and sweet intentions... I'm sadly pessimistic and yet hopefully optimistic. This could be the one time right?

dvdnvwls
04-14-14, 01:49 AM
So..... wish I knew..... I've lost the war on our home front.
It's always possible to decide that you were fighting the wrong war, and re-focus.

Fuzzy12
04-14-14, 02:53 AM
I wish I knew the solution to this....

I tried to keep up and do it all... then realized I couldn't... I started letting things get pretty messy....because when it got REALLY bad, he started helping out or pitching in a LITTLE a times. However, our house is a mess and cluttered, sending my anxiety through the roof, only emergency things get fixed and done in our house; and even when I try to do things, I get too overwhelmed as it's hard to catch up on YEARS of undone work in a day or two....

So..... wish I knew..... I've lost the war on our home front.

The other day, I broke down crying (it's ant season in California and bad at our house) and told my husband I was really tired of living his way. He truly heard me and truly cared and we came up with a plan to do a little each day to try to get the house more organized.... I appreciated it; however, after years of his good and sweet intentions... I'm sadly pessimistic and yet hopefully optimistic. This could be the one time right?

After much resistance from me we finally got a cleaner. She only comes twice a month but it s helped tons.

VeryTired
04-14-14, 11:27 AM
TLC--

BIG sympathy to you for the frustration. I have been there. It is a very painful thing that sometimes only crying or shouting gets response. But sometimes it's more important to get the response than to do it comfortably. I hope this one time it works for you both to get stuff taken care of. Please let us know how it goes.

Today my partner told me that having to-do lists almost guarantees that he won't do what's on them. He gets all caught up in focussing on the list, stressing about the list, hating that there's a list. This at once horrified me and fascinated me. It sheds a lot of light on a persistent problem we have. I reach the point that you did, of not being able to take it that stuff is in a mess, so I make a huge fuss, and he agrees to work with me on it. Then I make a list, a plan, a schedule and try to get his buy-in. He says yes to it all, but keeps trying to do things differently than on the schedule, and gets ore and more uncomfortable as I try to consult with him about where we are with the plan. To me that's logical--identify a goal, a strategy, and work collaboratively. To him, this doesn't seem to make sense.

It can get very strange. He will always agree with the larger plan, and often has good ideas about how to do it, and even enthusiasm for it. But partway through the tasks, he starts coming up with mysterious resistance about why we can't finish this day's work, why he has to change the order of things, and often, finally, why he has had enough and simply must leave a chunk of the overall work undone at the end. And when he does that, he never, ever comes back to it later, and he somehow becomes entirely blind to the un-done work, even if it's right in front of him every day. The tension that builds up when he has begun to resist the plan he helped to design can be huge, and it sometimes leads to scary explosions. We have dealt with this a million different ways, none effective.

My new thought is to try telling him that he will never understand why these things are important to me, but they are. I will ask him, out of love and good will, rather than out of any mutual opinion or his own wish, to do exactly what I want, and tell him that he doesn't have to have responsibility for the plan, he only has to agree to work with me on it. I will tell him I know that I'm asking for something huge, but that I feel it's necessary and that if he trusts me, he'll try to do it my way without argument or resistance, until I say we are done.

I won't share with him the whole logic of the project and the plan, I'll say please just accept that for--let's say--four days, you are going to do everything I ask, even if it doesn't feel right to you. And I will compress the tasks into the shortest possible space of time, and accept that when it's done, he then gets to do whatever he wants, and I will try to put no expectations on him for a while.

That way, maybe I will finally get the painting project we urgently needed to do when we moved into this apartment two years ago done, and the shelf-building project we agreed to do six months ago, as well as a long list of small tasks and repairs that I can't do alone, that have accumulated since we've been here. I think maybe he'll even ultimately be happy, too, since he actually likes doing home maintenance and repairs, but can't really organize the tasks, materials, equipment, time on his own. And he likes the results of things being in good shape and well-maintained.

If all goes well, this will be happening in the first week of June. Between now and then, I will be privately working on the plan, getting mentally ready so I will have the strength and energy to push this task forward even if there is resistance or trouble. It's not how I want to do it, but it's how I believe it just may be possible to get it down. I'll also be practicing in advance awareness that if the mysterious opposition starts, it's not personal, it's not deliberate, and it's an unfortunate circumstance we both have to work around.

The reason I think this stuff can be so fraught is that we are so different, and we both find it stressful to wrestle both with the household tasks themselves AND with the why-do-want-me-to-do-something-I-find-so-uncomfortable?-If-you-loved-me,-you-would-do-what-I-need at the same time. It's a lot to process. I've observed other couples having tense moments at Home Depot, and I think we all have to accept that sometimes stuff that looks ordinary is much harder than it seems.

Anyway, I hope your ants (yuck!) are vanquished fast, and that the rotting windowsills in my apartment can all get sanded and double-coated with deck paint soon. Some things just do have to get done ...

VeryTired
04-14-14, 11:34 AM
Fuzzy--

How awesome that you got the cleaner. Three cheers! That's amazing. Major victory! Smart move! I hope you are loving the results, especially since you have told us (other thread) that it matters a lot to you how clean your bathroom is. Whether you did it more for your husband or for both of you, there should be lots to celebrate in having a cleaner house with less stress over how it gets that way.

And quite apart from that, this is success with a goal I remember you talking about for at least a year. These long-running struggles are usually the hardest to resolve, so this is huge. CONGRATULATIONS!

dvdnvwls
04-14-14, 12:52 PM
TLC--

BIG sympathy to you for the frustration. I have been there. It is a very painful thing that sometimes only crying or shouting gets response. But sometimes it's more important to get the response than to do it comfortably. I hope this one time it works for you both to get stuff taken care of. Please let us know how it goes.

Today my partner told me that having to-do lists almost guarantees that he won't do what's on them. He gets all caught up in focussing on the list, stressing about the list, hating that there's a list. This at once horrified me and fascinated me. It sheds a lot of light on a persistent problem we have. I reach the point that you did, of not being able to take it that stuff is in a mess, so I make a huge fuss, and he agrees to work with me on it. Then I make a list, a plan, a schedule and try to get his buy-in. He says yes to it all, but keeps trying to do things differently than on the schedule, and gets ore and more uncomfortable as I try to consult with him about where we are with the plan. To me that's logical--identify a goal, a strategy, and work collaboratively. To him, this doesn't seem to make sense.

It can get very strange. He will always agree with the larger plan, and often has good ideas about how to do it, and even enthusiasm for it. But partway through the tasks, he starts coming up with mysterious resistance about why we can't finish this day's work, why he has to change the order of things, and often, finally, why he has had enough and simply must leave a chunk of the overall work undone at the end. And when he does that, he never, ever comes back to it later, and he somehow becomes entirely blind to the un-done work, even if it's right in front of him every day. The tension that builds up when he has begun to resist the plan he helped to design can be huge, and it sometimes leads to scary explosions. We have dealt with this a million different ways, none effective.

My new thought is to try telling him that he will never understand why these things are important to me, but they are. I will ask him, out of love and good will, rather than out of any mutual opinion or his own wish, to do exactly what I want, and tell him that he doesn't have to have responsibility for the plan, he only has to agree to work with me on it. I will tell him I know that I'm asking for something huge, but that I feel it's necessary and that if he trusts me, he'll try to do it my way without argument or resistance, until I say we are done.

I won't share with him the whole logic of the project and the plan, I'll say please just accept that for--let's say--four days, you are going to do everything I ask, even if it doesn't feel right to you. And I will compress the tasks into the shortest possible space of time, and accept that when it's done, he then gets to do whatever he wants, and I will try to put no expectations on him for a while.

That way, maybe I will finally get the painting project we urgently needed to do when we moved into this apartment two years ago done, and the shelf-building project we agreed to do six months ago, as well as a long list of small tasks and repairs that I can't do alone, that have accumulated since we've been here. I think maybe he'll even ultimately be happy, too, since he actually likes doing home maintenance and repairs, but can't really organize the tasks, materials, equipment, time on his own. And he likes the results of things being in good shape and well-maintained.

If all goes well, this will be happening in the first week of June. Between now and then, I will be privately working on the plan, getting mentally ready so I will have the strength and energy to push this task forward even if there is resistance or trouble. It's not how I want to do it, but it's how I believe it just may be possible to get it down. I'll also be practicing in advance awareness that if the mysterious opposition starts, it's not personal, it's not deliberate, and it's an unfortunate circumstance we both have to work around.

The reason I think this stuff can be so fraught is that we are so different, and we both find it stressful to wrestle both with the household tasks themselves AND with the why-do-want-me-to-do-something-I-find-so-uncomfortable?-If-you-loved-me,-you-would-do-what-I-need at the same time. It's a lot to process. I've observed other couples having tense moments at Home Depot, and I think we all have to accept that sometimes stuff that looks ordinary is much harder than it seems.

Anyway, I hope your ants (yuck!) are vanquished fast, and that the rotting windowsills in my apartment can all get sanded and double-coated with deck paint soon. Some things just do have to get done ...
VeryTired: I see a lot of "me" in your descriptions. I feel as if there's some stuff for me to process before I understand what you've just posted, and I'm not sure what to say. Seeing your new solution at first glance: well, I sort of think you might really be onto something, and at the same time I have a really uncomfortable internal reaction. I'll try to figure out what's going on with that reaction.

VeryTired
04-14-14, 12:57 PM
dvd--
Thanks for the quick response and please do share your more considered interpretation of your reaction when you arrive at it. Your insights are always solid gold about this sort of thing. And your discomfort hearing of my idea might well be a warning that could benefit me greatly ...

Fuzzy12
04-14-14, 01:10 PM
What my partner could do to help me with following tasks through:

1. Bite sized orders (this might not sit well with some, but polite, respectful orders work well with me because they mean I don't need to think or make any decision. Put document X into file Y -> Easy. )

1a) One order at a time.

2. Gentle reminders (especially if the involve the word NOW)

3. Start a task with me.

4. Getting all the material, preparatory work in place (if I need to prepare for a task I rarely get beyond the preparation step)

5. Work to my strengths. Let me do things I'm good at and find easy and I'm happy for my partner to do things I find difficult and suck at.. :D

6. Don't ask me to do things that I don't really want to do

7. Don't get emotional in any way

8. Lots of positive reaffirmation & reassurance

9. Similar to point 1: Break big tasks into small tasks for me

10. Don't insist that I do a task your way (even if it seems more logical, quicker, better) though do tell me (nicely) if there's a better way

11. Help me prioritise (this can simply include telling me your priority. If you ask me to renew an insurance that's due today and do the dishes, I'll most probably do the dishes..)

VeryTired
04-14-14, 01:24 PM
I really like this list, thanks so much! And it occurs to me that it would be a good list for many people, with or without ADHD. I'd like to be treated that way as regards lots of these points as well. And many of these things are elements of what I was already imagining I'd try with the June projects.

The possible problems I envision are with points 6 and 10. 6 because sometimes it simply is necessary to do things one doesn't want to do. But being mindful that it's an issue might help in those cases. And 10 is my problem--I need to discipline myself not to speak up when I see that my partner's choice of method involves mess, expense, delay, or other things I don't like. I need to make an absolute determination that if I'm not doing it, I shouldn't comment unless invited. But that's not easy to do, so I anticipate there will be some errors.

Fuzzy12
04-14-14, 01:29 PM
The possible problems I envision are with points 6 and 10. 6 because sometimes it simply is necessary to do things one doesn't want to do. But being mindful that it's an issue might help in those cases. And 10 is my problem--I need to discipline myself not to speak up when I see that my partner's choice of method involves mess, expense, delay, or other things I don't like. I need to make an absolute determination that if I'm not doing it, I shouldn't comment unless invited. But that's not easy to do, so I anticipate there will be some errors.

Re 6, I know, some things just can't be avoided. However, there are some things that I absolutely hate doing but that hubby does well (and even though he isn't fond of them either, he can still do them.) Truth is, if I had a choice I'd hardly do anything. Well, the real truth is I hardly do anything anyway. :doh:

However, some things I'm even less likely to do than others even in perfect situations.

dvdnvwls
04-14-14, 01:30 PM
This project paradigm of identifying a goal (which always has an associated deadline, perhaps unspoken) and a strategy for accomplishing it, and working collaboratively to accomplish the stated goal by means of the agreed-upon strategy, modifying the strategy as needed to keep the goal in view and to keep the goal matched with the project deadline:

In broad general terms, this entire process is "pie in the sky" when working with an ADHDer. It rests squarely (and nearly exclusively) on the things we don't have the capacity to do. It doesn't leave room for us to succeed, because our usual ways of being able to work and get things done are blocked or disregarded or not accounted for.

Dr. Thomas Brown's model of impaired executive functions in ADHD (http://www.drthomasebrown.com/add-adhd-model/) is a good resource showing how it works (or more accurately how it doesn't work); Activation (preparing and planning the project - goal, deadline, and strategy), Focus (ability to stick with each step), Effort (basically, knowing how to recognize and regulate our speed and intensity of work, especially with a deadline involved), Emotion (including not getting overwhelmed by the project, but also not overwhelmed by the people), Memory (holding the goal and strategy and deadline in mind, and mentally examining and re-working them), and Action (keeping our actions in tune with the situation, neither getting impulsive nor shutting down, doing the appropriate thing at the appropriate time) - as you can see, the standard project-planning paradigm is "the perfect storm" for someone with this kind of impaired executive function. (Which is to say, all ADHDers by definition. In a nutshell, no impaired executive functions means no ADHD.)

And because this type of project planning is a standard paradigm, all of us as ADHDers have seen it many times before; have seen how it devastates us; seen how our inability to "just do it like everyone else" confuses and frustrates our partners, our bosses, our teachers, our clients or customers; seen that if we're railroaded into it again we will fail again, be hurt again, and hurt everyone else again; seen that this is the way a large part of the world operates, "simply the way it's done", and that we don't measure up (and are therefore deemed inadequate or incompetent); and very often, sadly, seen that "If they do that to me again, I know I'll again be transformed into a lonely scared lost little boy who doesn't know whether to hide away or to fight" - thereby short-circuiting our own ability to make mature efforts to overcome the difficulties, as well as further confusing and frustrating those around us.

dvdnvwls
04-14-14, 01:46 PM
About the Activation function:

I remember my early-grade teachers being mystified that it took me ten minutes of a half-hour class just to get my book open to the correct page and my pencil in my hand... and that somehow I was a smart kid and a good student anyway. (I was a talkative child in class - of course often being social, but also very often capably teaching the other kids how to do their work, when they hadn't understood what the teacher said. I always understood what the teacher said - I've been fluent in Teacherese since I was six. That doesn't mean I know where my book is. :) ) They knew it didn't make sense, they knew something was up, but they didn't know what it was - or perhaps they thought "Wait and see, he'll probably grow out of it".

And I realize with chagrin that I am no different today, showing up to meetings at work in the same un-activated state.

dvdnvwls
04-14-14, 01:58 PM
About the Effort function:

I never know how hard a task is, or how long it will take me. Ever. (Unless it's a task I've done the same way over and over many times.) Maybe I've learned this lesson too well, maybe I've become self-defeating in this ability - but when you ask me how long any job might take, I'll just look at you blankly, and if you pressure me I'll make something up - much like Dustin Hoffman's character in the movie Rain Man responding "about a hundred dollars" to the price of every item he's asked about.

VeryTired
04-14-14, 02:15 PM
dvd--

Heartfelt thanks. You are a gifted teacher, still--here. You are superb at describing what things are like, which sounds so simple and easy but in fact is an ability that is exceedingly rare in the world at large.

I'm also in awe of your clarity of self knowledge. It's very very generous of you to share this here. You're giving me gigantic resources of insight into things I know to be true of my partner, but which I previously haven't fully understood, because he resists introspection and so doesn't have the ability to explain himself to me in this way. But I can see an almost one to one mapping of what you say about yourself onto what I observe to be true of him.

dvdnvwls
04-14-14, 02:15 PM
About the Emotion function:

I've known for a long time (and this was noticed by a therapist years ago, but she basically just told me to buck up) that I have major difficulty doing or staying with projects that I'm (for lack of a better description) emotionally out-of-tune with. The emotional in-tune-ness I seem to require is partly feeling secure that I know I'm doing this for the right reasons, partly feeling good about the people I'm working with, partly being emotionally on an even keel myself and not feeling overwhelmed in a bad way. When I'm overwhelmed with bad emotions, I drop out of projects. When I'm working with toxic people, I drop out of projects. When I'm on a project I don't "see", or that I don't feel good or right about - you guessed it.
(Wondering if this has any relation to Carl Rogers's congruence and incongruence. Probably reaching pretty far for that one.)

In addition to the dropping-out problem I just mentioned, which is bad enough, I'm very aware that dropping out is socially unacceptable and that I'll look lazy or incompetent or irresponsible or stupid or ungrateful or whatever. So, of course, I don't honestly and officially drop out - I mentally "check out", become a zombie who's pretending to participate, and that makes everything so much worse.

dvdnvwls
04-14-14, 02:29 PM
And 10 is my problem--I need to discipline myself not to speak up when I see that my partner's choice of method involves mess, expense, delay, or other things I don't like. I need to make an absolute determination that if I'm not doing it, I shouldn't comment unless invited. But that's not easy to do, so I anticipate there will be some errors.
I certainly get defensive when this comes up. I end up taking the view "Is this my task or not? If you're going to judge, then just take over and be done with it." (Unfortunately too often adding "Oh yeah? Well, I'm out of here, so have fun with your new project.") :(

I feel as if this issue is not a built-in defect, that it's something we can work out together, that diplomacy and understanding and sensitivity from both of us can mostly solve this one.

dvdnvwls
04-14-14, 02:54 PM
About the Memory function:

The way I think this hurts my working relationships is that no one I work with is able to see what's (not!) going on inside my mind. When you talk about the goal and the strategy and the deadline and how we'll work together to accomplish them, you're describing knowledge-structures that you've developed, and in your own mind you see them or sense them. You (quite reasonably) imagine that as soon as you do a clear enough job of describing the knowledge-structures to me, then I will have reconstructed them in my own mind, and you will have successfully communicated your ideas. But what happens is that I do hear and understand your words, but my "knowledge-structure reconstitution function" (that is, my executive function of Memory) does little or nothing. I'm left with a mystifying jumble of words, trying trying trying to get a mental representation of what you've said, and getting a foggy sketchy little doodle of something that may or may not even relate.

And perhaps that's part of why I heavily engage in the fault of "people-pleasing". I know that I'm never going to "get" your description. I know that if I ask again and you patiently go over it with me, nothing changes. I know that I will "get it" for the first time when, for better or worse, the project is finished. That's just the truth, as far as I can tell.

I can't tell you that I don't get it, because that will stall the project to no purpose. I know I'm going to still not get it, even if you explain it ten times and differently every time. I can't tell you the truth, which is "I'm sorry, it's not you, it's just that I can't effectively participate in the type of project where we make a plan first - my brain doesn't work that way", because that will sound ridiculous and potentially be offensive. The least-painful way through that I've found is "If my emotions about this project feel vaguely okay or better and/or if it subjectively sounds easy, just say yes and hope no one asks uncomfortable questions. If my emotions are negative and/or it subjectively sounds very difficult, then make any possible excuse to get out of it".

It's easy to see that this rule of thumb ought to get me into serious trouble on a regular basis - and it does. The truly surprising thing is how often it doesn't, I guess.


I notice that there might be a major clash here, a sort of cognitive dissonance, a way that ADHD doesn't make sense - because I know I can make plans, of a type. I'm especially good at making certain kinds of plans for someone else. :(

But (stepping out on a limb, this may be crazy...) I think my plans are not the same kind of plans at all... When I make a plan, I believe that maybe the whole thing is a flat one-dimensional sequence, like a syllogism from introductory logic class, one step at a time. Because I make that kind of plans, I can sometimes even point out flaws in "normal" people's more-sophisticated types of plans, giving the illusion that I'm participating in the process as an equal.

dvdnvwls
04-14-14, 04:36 PM
One of the really painful parts of this paradigm for me is something that happens in crisis situations. When things are really falling apart for me, and a "normal person" decides to step in and help me, their comfort zone for getting themselves through a crisis (and therefore what they decide to do with me) almost always begins with "all right, let's make a plan".

And I want to scream, and cry, and run away - because they have just made my problem a hundred times worse. I respect their intention, they often treat me kindly and speak gently and are compassionate and caring - but all the kindness and compassion in the world can't cover up the fact that the type of help I'm receiving is something I can't use, something that in fact is compounding my crisis, increasing my fear, just giving me "one more thing on my plate" instead of making a positive difference.

(For people interested in computer processing, this is very much like the old saw regarding the decision to use a regular expression - "Now you have two problems".) :)

Practical advice for helping an ADHDer in a crisis:

- Don't sit down and make a plan together. He can't handle it, and having him participate in the planning process will do nothing but instill and consolidate fear and doubt.

- Don't negotiate, or work toward "buy-in" on the way you would like to do things. He won't really understand or be capable of responding, and it's incredibly hard for him to pretend to listen and to make the right noises at the right times during your speech. Just make your own private silent analysis of the situation, assisted if necessary by asking him the absolute minimum of questions, and then simply flat-out (kindly, of course) tell him what to do.

dvdnvwls
04-14-14, 05:05 PM
... he resists introspection and so doesn't have the ability to explain himself to me in this way. But I can see an almost one to one mapping of what you say about yourself onto what I observe to be true of him.
This is interesting, because I think my ex would have said I resisted introspection as well. In fact, she might well have wondered whether I was even capable of it.

My honest introspection (when I was brave/foolish enough to try) put her off quite badly. It made her angry. It made her think I was lying, or at least gravely mistaken. I think that was partly because it didn't match her own introspection (i.e. I was qualitatively different from her; I had a weird brain and she didn't think I should), and partly because it didn't match her impression of me (i.e. my introspection [and my words] didn't seem to match my actions). The more honest I was, the worse our situation got.

Despite the sound of all that, I don't blame my ex for misunderstanding. In some way, she "didn't sign up for this" - though the signs were indeed rampant that something was wrong, and she married me anyway. It's not possible to brain-scan a potential mate to see if everything is up to code in there. :) (To be honest, I guess I do blame her for a number of things - but this misunderstanding isn't one of them.)

I believe one of the main reasons ADHD is a problem in the world is that we don't make sense to others - ADHDers appear to the normal observer as if we are inconsistent with ourselves, that it's illogical and unreasonable and perhaps impossible for a person to really be the way I am.

dvdnvwls
04-14-14, 05:30 PM
Introspection under pressure (e.g. at its best "What's going on for you right now in this situation?", and at its worst "WTF were you thinking???") is not an area where I shine. :( I will know "something", know that there's a thing I need to say, that the other person is missing a piece of information that would help them deal with me, but I often can't put my finger on what it is - and too often I'll say something that sounds promising but isn't it. And intelligent people will then poke holes in what I've told them, noting the inconsistencies between my hurried inaccurate introspection and my outward results, which tends to discourage me from continuing to try.

Having the time and space and safety to type some of these things, living in a little apartment by myself, has changed me. I know who I am much better than I used to. Part of the reason is that I'm not getting told "Oh no you're not!" every time I recognize myself a bit better and maybe say something about it.

dvdnvwls
04-14-14, 06:08 PM
I believe the famous creativity of people with ADHD stems from our recognition (whether conscious or not) that our executive functions are weak and that we will therefore need work-around strategies.

Normal people, please imagine the following scenario:

You have a project that's due a month from now.

- You're not allowed to prepare; you must simply show up on that day a month from now, equipped with only what happens to have been in your bag the night before.

- When you arrive, you find that someone has been hired to rudely interrupt you at random intervals between eight seconds and forty seconds. You never know what kind of interruption it will be. Many of the interruptions are hilarious. Some are terrifying.

- You know the name of the project, but no one is allowed to tell you until on that day at 9 AM that a two-hundred-page report is required by the end of the day, also translated into Swedish. (And no one is allowed to tell you until 4 PM that Hjalmar left yesterday for his vacation. ;) )

- Toxic Boss From Hell will be with you all day, helping. He won't let you do this by yourself, of course.

- Toxic Boss has been asked to hit you, hard, every time you say anything about how to proceed with the project or ask any questions. Of course, he's only too happy to oblige.

- You find that you have a nearly-uncontrollable urge to run around the room while making rude comments about Toxic Boss's clothes and hairstyle, and it takes about 75% of your energy just to keep from doing that.

Yeah, that's how my day went. :p

You'd get creative, too. :eek:

VeryTired
04-14-14, 07:52 PM
dvdnvwls--

Please write a book. All you need to do is search for all your postings here, download them and put section headings on each, as you did today. It will be a bestseller among partners of people with ADHD. I am totally serious here--you already have a large audience at the Forums, but a heck of a lot of other people need to hear from you also.

I could comment line for line on what you've written today, and collate each point you make with what I observe about my partner. But that would take up a heck of a lot of space here, so I'll just pick a few things to comment upon.

I am stunned by what you say about memory and people-pleasing. I bet this is common--anyway, it's a huge deal with my partner, and it makes me crazy. I feel it's disrespectful when someone tells me what they think I want to hear. And sometimes it is! But obviously it's a different, more complicated kettle of fish with my partner, or when you do this. I will be mulling this for a long time--there's an awful lot of significance here.

As for the idea of DON'T try to help someone with ADHD, I really hear you. If I haven't had so many experiences of total meltdown resulting from attempted assistance, I would deb reluctant to accept this. But experience is a persuasive teacher, and you are explaining very clearly something I have lived many times.

And lastly, this thing about introspection and inconsistency has been a point of anguished contention for us repeatedly. So it's kind of uncanny here, as often, to read someone else's description of something that I had vaguely assumed happened only between me and my partner.

dvdnvwls
04-14-14, 09:43 PM
As for the idea of DON'T try to help someone with ADHD, I really hear you. If I haven't had so many experiences of total meltdown resulting from attempted assistance, I would deb reluctant to accept this. But experience is a persuasive teacher, and you are explaining very clearly something I have lived many times.
I wouldn't say "don't help" -

Hmm, maybe we're referring to different parts.

When I have "my task" that we've agreed I'll do, then from my point of view, most of the time it will be "politically" better for you to let me crash and burn rather than step in and help, because the help attempt can easily be seen as a non-confidence motion. I don't know whether other ADHDers are this way.

When I'm in a crisis, not on such a particular agreed-on task but just swamped with tasks, then most of the time for me I would love some help - just not sitting me down and helping me make a plan! For me, that's the old "teaching a fish to climb a tree" metaphor. I recognize the sentiment of "help him to help himself", but it doesn't happen that way. It just turns into "Now David, you know we've been over this a thousand times, here's how you make a plan to get your things done..." - and it's that way for me even if we've never met, because I've been banging my head against that particular brick wall since 1977 if not before, and all you normal people explain it in pretty much the same way. :o

In my opinion, the way around that is essentially to find out what my tasks are, and without going through a process, simply take one of them off my hands. Of course it's your choice whether to do that or not, because it might be still true that doing nothing is emotionally-safer for you, or if you can't or would prefer not to.


I recognize that this message is more or less contradictory. How is a person supposed to help me if I want help and I also don't want it? It's a mess. And I recognize that it's ungrateful and unfair of me to say "Yes, I want help, but not like that". :scratch:

TLCisaQT
04-14-14, 10:44 PM
It's always possible to decide that you were fighting the wrong war, and re-focus.

possibly, but this is vague to me, so you'd have to expand on that, as I'm now lost :)

After much resistance from me we finally got a cleaner. She only comes twice a month but it s helped tons.

Yes, but I think I'd have to get my house to an acceptable level of MESSY to hire a cleaner LOL I'm jealous though and yet happy you have one :)

TLC--

BIG sympathy to you for the frustration. I have been there. It is a very painful thing that sometimes only crying or shouting gets response. But sometimes it's more important to get the response than to do it comfortably. I hope this one time it works for you both to get stuff taken care of. Please let us know how it goes.

Today my partner told me that having to-do lists almost guarantees that he won't do what's on them. He gets all caught up in focussing on the list, stressing about the list, hating that there's a list. ...

THanks for the support and sympathy :) I truly hope you get those window sills DONE!!! I actually had a really good therapy session last week that shed some light on things for me, about getting things done and my tendency to play a little of a victim role in not getting things done, because I'm waiting on him to help out.

First off there is kind of this dynamic in our house. My husband will say he will do something and doesn't, so I get mad and then verbally express, with exasperation fine, we don't have to then, OR that I'm going to do it then myself, and start to do it. If I start something myself, he then will get mad after watching me do it and makes a spectacle and then will most likely help but then complains and makes a big deal that I'm not doing it right and now he has to help. So I usually start to feel guilty, and then feel bad either for asking or "making" him feel guilty so he has to help, etc.

Anyways.... I also tend to make these intense lists and go a little overboard with planning that, to me it can even be overwhelming.

So she suggested, just to make a list of these small, easy projects that can be done quickly and just say "hey, I'm going to do ____ on Saturday if you'd like to help out" Then he can decide to help or not. No judgement, no nothing. Then on Saturday, you can give another reminder that you are going to go out in about 30 minutes and do that project if they are interested. Also, since it's not a HUGE project, it's not an all day thing, it's 1-2 hours tops and then it doesn't take all day. She said, just stop getting mad that he won't do it WITH you and just DO IT.

I liked her suggestion. It was good for me. I can sit and wait for things to get done, or just do it and probably expend less energy getting mad or waiting :)

dvdnvwls
04-14-14, 10:56 PM
It's always possible to decide that you were fighting the wrong war, and re-focus.

possibly, but this is vague to me, so you'd have to expand on that, as I'm now lost :)
You expressed the idea that you had lost "the war" at home. Who or what was it against? What caused you to lose?

dvdnvwls
04-15-14, 12:42 AM
And lastly, this thing about introspection and inconsistency has been a point of anguished contention for us repeatedly. So it's kind of uncanny here, as often, to read someone else's description of something that I had vaguely assumed happened only between me and my partner.
I believe that one of the worst things about ADHD, at least from the perspective of relationships with non-ADHD people (if not just generally), is a very simple thing:

My will and my actions are not reliably connected with each other.

That fact, setting aside for a moment all the rest of ADHD, can single-handedly make my actions look like those of an irresponsible child.

Fuzzy12
04-15-14, 12:59 AM
I believe that one of the worst things about ADHD, at least from the perspective of relationships with non-ADHD people (if not just generally), is a very simple thing:

My will and my actions are not reliably connected with each other.

That fact, setting aside for a moment all the rest of ADHD, can single-handedly make my actions look like those of an irresponsible child.

That's me: an irresponsible, illogical child. From that perspective everything I do makes total sense.

GRbiker
04-19-14, 12:34 AM
This has been a very helpful thread, I hope the OP has returned to reap what was sown.

This turned out long, but it really illustrates being emotionally in tune to be able get something done. And also to show that we can get better. VT, your partner sounds very much like me, as recently as a year ago.

My will and my actions are not reliably connected with each other.

But sometimes they are.

Last week I heard of a job that is up my alley at an institution that I've wanted to work for much of my life. Unfortunately I found it the day after returning from vacation, which happened to be two days after the listed deadline for application. This should have been enough for me to simply try to forget about it. However, the online job listing was still active and I was able to start the application process.

Here is where it gets weird. Next I have to prepare my resume. In the past, I've always done a good job with resumes, and even though I haven't applied for too many positions, I have landed pretty much every position I have sent resumes to. Until I met my partner, 10 years ago. Since then, I'm batting about .100 and that's only because I was given a different job than what I had interviewed for. Needless to say this has had a negative effect on my confidence, to the point that I gave up looking for other work even though I really am no longer interested in my job.

Why? Well I don't want to blame my partner, but I feel that I can't write a good resume without her help, yet can't write a resume with her. Its just too stressful. She wants to add all kinds of "dynamic" descriptives, which aren't my style, but that's what all the "experts" say you need to do to get noticed. That and everything has to be perfect, or in the dustbin it goes. But I know that I have written some kick *** resumes in the past. Simple, direct and to the point works for me. She has "helped" me write a few papers before, and though the end results where good, the process was devastating for me.

Well, I really want to work at this place, so I persevered. I got in touch with the HR manager for the department, she asked me to send her my resume so she could include it in the batch of applicants. So today I called my partner and said I was going home at lunchtime and staying until I got it done. She said she'd help.

OhhhhK.

Despite a lot of resistance on my part, which I tried to keep to myself, we got through it. I did have to put my foot down once and say I want it this way, or I'm leaving and will do it all myself. In the end, I got the resume I wanted, the stress was relieved, and to top it off, the rough cover letter I scribbled out a few days ago was perfect, almost word for word. She was helpful, and once I stood up for myself, she stopped acting like she was "saving" me. I was able to accept her help and she was able to take my direction.

Now, I think this is a case where I was emotionally in tune, as DVD puts it. I would really like this job, so I was able to buy into the process which has proven emotionally fraught in the past. Also, it comes from me being willing to move forward, to allow myself to get better and get out of this downward ADD spiral. I don't know if I'll get the job, but right now I feel just trying has given me a huge boost. Most of all, I feel like my partner and I have finally turned a corner, and might be able to work together to make our lives better.

Thanks all!

dvdnvwls
04-19-14, 01:16 AM
My will and my actions are not reliably connected with each other.

But sometimes they are.
Well, that's just it... that's why the word "reliably" is in there. To me, it's the "sometimes" connection that can hurt the most in some situations, because people see me able and then they see me not able, and it makes them think the times I'm not able must therefore be my own fault.

dvdnvwls
04-19-14, 01:17 AM
Here is where it gets weird. Next I have to prepare my resume. In the past, I've always done a good job with resumes, and even though I haven't applied for too many positions, I have landed pretty much every position I have sent resumes to. Until I met my partner, 10 years ago. Since then, I'm batting about .100 and that's only because I was given a different job than what I had interviewed for. Needless to say this has had a negative effect on my confidence, to the point that I gave up looking for other work even though I really am no longer interested in my job.

Why? Well I don't want to blame my partner, but I feel that I can't write a good resume without her help, yet can't write a resume with her. Its just too stressful. She wants to add all kinds of "dynamic" descriptives, which aren't my style, but that's what all the "experts" say you need to do to get noticed. That and everything has to be perfect, or in the dustbin it goes. But I know that I have written some kick *** resumes in the past. Simple, direct and to the point works for me. She has "helped" me write a few papers before, and though the end results where good, the process was devastating for me.

Well, I really want to work at this place, so I persevered. I got in touch with the HR manager for the department, she asked me to send her my resume so she could include it in the batch of applicants. So today I called my partner and said I was going home at lunchtime and staying until I got it done. She said she'd help.

OhhhhK.

Despite a lot of resistance on my part, which I tried to keep to myself, we got through it. I did have to put my foot down once and say I want it this way, or I'm leaving and will do it all myself. In the end, I got the resume I wanted, the stress was relieved, and to top it off, the rough cover letter I scribbled out a few days ago was perfect, almost word for word. She was helpful, and once I stood up for myself, she stopped acting like she was "saving" me. I was able to accept her help and she was able to take my direction.

Now, I think this is a case where I was emotionally in tune, as DVD puts it. I would really like this job, so I was able to buy into the process which has proven emotionally fraught in the past. Also, it comes from me being willing to move forward, to allow myself to get better and get out of this downward ADD spiral. I don't know if I'll get the job, but right now I feel just trying has given me a huge boost. Most of all, I feel like my partner and I have finally turned a corner, and might be able to work together to make our lives better.

Thanks all!
This is great news! Congratulations on making things happen, in several ways at once!

MX2012
04-19-14, 04:18 PM
Hi barbedwire -- welcome. I have no spouse but in order for me to do something, I have to make to-do lists -- several, many times.....

I have noticed a pattern. I look at my to do lists daily. I rewrite them daily. I use an ipod notes to do list, I use a notebook to do list and I make a daily to do list.

I also "procrastinate" often. But, for example, I know I need to do my taxes by 4/15. So, in January I begin to put it on my to do lists. So, I see this task on a daily basis. February, I begin to gather the materials and information necessary to complete task. March similar but probably more detailed. Then, in April, I start actual preparation and eventually meet the deadline, not without frustration and frantic last minute scrounging for items I missed or did not understand.

You could say I do this with all my tasks. It is some form of mental organization that must take place in order for me to perform the task with as little stress as possible and meet my deadlines.

Even grocery shopping, I make lists, I make notes, I plan ahead when am I going to go? At this point in time, I go once a month for most of my groceries. I stockpile the pantry. For eggs, fruit, vegetables, I go to a local food market but even that trip must be planned out.

So, my suggestion is to get a bulletin board and a white board. You can hang lists on the bulletin board -- assigning tasks to husband and yourself (an agreed upon list) with a stated deadline i.e weekly, tomorrow...... Use the white board for daily tasks or something like that and keep a notebook in the kitchen with a similar to do list and use post-its, if you husb likes the idea and post them on his pc or his desk etc. with a smile.

Then, evaluate how the system works, tweak it or toss it.

MX2012
04-19-14, 04:21 PM
P.S. Barbed wire -- if my procrastination gets really bad, then there is an underlying issue I need to address and sometimes the issue is not obvious.

Plus, I do things like make sure I get enough sleep, take walk or something to get my energy going, watch what I eat to make sure I am in the right frame of mind and my body is working as it should.

TLCisaQT
04-22-14, 03:30 PM
You expressed the idea that you had lost "the war" at home. Who or what was it against? What caused you to lose?

Keeping the house CLEAN at a reasonable level. I had to change what I considered reasonable, but it had to go to a VERY low standard to get SOME help, but then doing that, it has just gotten too overwhelming to keep up!! and it's to the point where I don't even let people come over or visit because I just feel it's embarrassing. Not hoarders embarrassing but you never know when that could happen LOL. In fact, I think it's contributed to the worst case of ant problem we have had here!! Even with the ant problem, since it's an emergency, my husband will spray where necessary, but then leaves it in disarray and with dead Ants around. So now I'm having to go room by room and do a deep cleaning and de-cluttering to try and get to a place of "normal"

So yesterday, I stayed home to clean because I didn't have time over the weekend with Easter... you know what he did? stayed in bed all day, watching TV. I know it was one of his days off; however, there was ALOT that needed to be done, and yes, that he says he is going to do, and none of it got done. (by the way that part was venting )

TLCisaQT
04-22-14, 03:32 PM
I believe that one of the worst things about ADHD, at least from the perspective of relationships with non-ADHD people (if not just generally), is a very simple thing:

My will and my actions are not reliably connected with each other.

That fact, setting aside for a moment all the rest of ADHD, can single-handedly make my actions look like those of an irresponsible child.

This is interesting and sounds very familiar to me. And yes, VERY frustrating :)

jende2
04-26-14, 10:05 PM
I've read through most of the posts on this thread. I'm in a very tired place right now with my ADHD boyfriend. I'm sorry, but Im feeling that a relationship shouldn't be this difficult. BIG SIGH. :(

VeryTired
04-27-14, 01:45 PM
Hi, jende2--

I'm sorry that you're in a hard place right now. Sympathy to you! I suggest you start a new thread on this board and tell us about what's going on. Maybe someone here can offer some helpful response, and even if not, sometimes just putting a problem into words in helpful for your own clarification.

all good wishes--

TLCisaQT
04-30-14, 09:50 PM
I've read through most of the posts on this thread. I'm in a very tired place right now with my ADHD boyfriend. I'm sorry, but Im feeling that a relationship shouldn't be this difficult. BIG SIGH. :(

If you are tired now and he's just your boyfriend, you may want to re-think more. Relationships with people who have ADHD may work fine for some and not for others and that is OK if it doesn't for you. Plus, I think it would be better to figure that out sooner than later before either of you invest a lot of time.

Arthas
05-24-14, 12:38 PM
My spouse will tell me that he is going to do something, but then does not follow through. What is your advice? Should I just do the task myself, never ask for his help? He has not pursued getting professional help or medication, even though we have discussed it.
Hi barbedwire.. In my experience being the non-ADHDer, it can be tough to get my wife off her butt to help me with somethings. I often have to pick up the slack and the extra load in a lot of things. This is not all the time, but sometimes, when her ADHD is particularly difficult for her to manage. She's told me about how she can overthink things, and it can take her a few hours between thinking "I should do the laundry" to actually getting up and doing the laundry. Same even applies to when we're going out to do something fun. Getting mad only makes it worse. With the big things, I find that if I get started on things first, she'll usually join in soon enough.

As for your husband not seeking out therapy or medication, it could well be a combination of over thinking things, and fear of the unknown factor of "what if this doesn't help?" Maybe you can help him out and suggest a place to start, such as talking with his doctor, and go with him. As the non-ADHD spouse, you have a perspective that he doesn't have, and also clarity of thought that you'll be able to remember things to talk with the doctor about that he may blank out on when the conversation actually happens.

Hope that helps somewhat!

Pentax
07-20-14, 10:04 AM
Re 6, I know, some things just can't be avoided. However, there are some things that I absolutely hate doing but that hubby does well (and even though he isn't fond of them either, he can still do them.) Truth is, if I had a choice I'd hardly do anything. Well, the real truth is I hardly do anything anyway. :doh:

However, some things I'm even less likely to do than others even in perfect situations.

I'm listening with appreciation Fuzzy. Over on my non-ADD side of things, to be honest there are plenty of care taking tasks that need to get done by somebody of the two of us that bore me to tears, frustrate me, wear me out physically (read yard work, house repair), and cost a lot of time that I must take from my job, basic self care, time with friends, and r and r. I'm not indirectly commenting on the contributions to necessary work in shared life by someone with ADHD, just reporting from my end. I'd also like to not have to do things I'm not good at. The person I'm with who I'm becoming certain has ADHD, who has had a lifetime of struggling with his distractability and often disconnect between his thought and execution and I have been talking a lot about how we're going to live together. It can't end up that I do all the common work for us, no matter my skill set. That would be a very quick relationship killer

He has proposed hiring some of the work out. There are couples who can't afford that, so that important relief couldn't come to them. My paycheck is too small to be able to use for that but he's willing for some of his to pay for some of what we need to get done.

We're also talking about moving, once we marry, to a place that doesn't have so much work attached to it. No yard, for ex. I think we'll end up doing that.

Third, we've talked a lot about his management of his own possessions, things lost, forgotten, gotten into a mess. My task load very soon into the relation with him shot up, voluntarily doing what he couldn't or didn't have time for because he was dealing with backlog or a sudden problem, or dropping my own work when he aske d for help when things on his side of things required something. The amount of time taken from what I needed to do for my job, to do basic care of myself, and care for my own house was a steep increase. We knew we had to make life with him more possible for me.

I'm not quite finished with the decision, and I'm very aware that a lot of couples will not have this option, but being of an age at which I'm able to do this, I'm seriously considering retiring. I can see that given his executive problems and the nature of his work, he doesn't have focus or frankly time to do much common work. I can see that having someone else do basic cleaning, home maintenance, yard, will only take care of about 25% of our common work. I can see that by default I'm the only one to do the rest of it between us that can't be hired out or streamlined And we don't have kids. This possibility won't be an option for many. But something's got to give, and I've been living in my own body and capabilities for a long time, and it's clear that if I do a 50 hour a week job, put 20 into ongoing unremunerated work that I'm doing and will contine to do, and lowball ing it, put 20 a week in running a household because he can't co run it or split the load, the without exaggeration 90 hours a week would kill me quickly, and forget about the relation.

I'm very grateful that, after some insistent return to the topic on my part, that he has taken on board that our shared life can't be one that dumps so much extra work on me that my performance at my job is damaged and I start to get so far behind in obligations that I've got that are my responsibility to do that I start to lose it, and get depressed. Which was indeed happening, not through any ill intention on his part, but because so much "somebody's got to do this" care taking was added to my already full plate.

I thank my lucky stars for him. I can see that he works very, very hard to keep a handle on what he has to do, and I can see that because often he is distracted, that he spends a lot of time in the week losing and finding things, dealing with messes, and that's extra hours in the week that I don't have to spend. He has very,very little extra time, and has taken responsibility for his work performance and his immediate personal care. He's run out of time in the week, and yes some kinds of work are hard for him to do. And other kinds, to be truthful about it, he has no interest in and refuses to do.

But we'll need going forward to care for us, and for me, too. I don't think he sees what it takes in labor, organization, memory, order and time to run a household because he's never done it. I'm grateful that he knows I'm not a slacker, has a sense of justice and care that includes my well being, wants to move to a place that requires less work, talks at least about Red Haired Witch's solution of living with many fewer possessions, and is seriously looking with me at the financial hit we'd take if I retire, in order to drop my weekly task load from about 90 hours to 40. Although it will put a strain on us financially, he says do what you choose to do, we'll absorb you leaving that job (which I would leave in 5 years even if on my own) For which I'm grateful.

I guess I'm thinking about our whole pattern of needed work, and where we've gotten on it, at present. Again I'm very grateful that he's active in finding ways to keep me from being crushed, and to be willing to spend to get us to a place and way of interacting that works for us both, not just for him. That's more fairness and being willing to share the load than non-ADHD men in my past have given the relation.