View Full Version : "Not wanting it to matter"


VeryTired
07-14-14, 11:22 AM
Hi, all--

I had a tough conversation with my partner this morning, and I am wondering if anyone here can offer perspectives. I'm sorry that this is kind of long.

My partner has often said to me in great frustration that he wishes this or that problem just "didn't matter" to me. This will be in reference to things like my being frustrated when he cannot listen to what I have to say, or doesn't seem to be able to remember that, like him, I also have a point of view or feelings about a particular topic.

We'll talk about whatever the issue is, and I will try to be super clear and direct about this-is-how-I-feel, or remember,-I-am-here-too, this-affects-me-also. He'll get very discouraged and tell me that he has ADHD, so I have to accept that he can't necessarily do what I want and need. And then he'll say he wishes that whatever it is didn't matter to me.

I don't know if I am explaining well. He feels that his ADHD gives him significant limitations, about which nothing can be done, and that the problem is that I still need what I need without reference to his ADHD. He's not selfish in the sense of thinking I shouldn't have needs. But he is preoccupied with how bad it makes him feel not to meet my needs, and seemingly little interested in how bad that might make me feel. In other words, the problem with my un-met needs is that HE feels bad.

I guess these are my questions:

1) Does anyone else have this kind of a dialogue within their relationship? About the ADHD partner wishing that his or her problematic symptoms or personal shortcomings just didn't matter to the non-ADHD partner?

2) What about the general notion that other people simply shouldn't be affected by someone's behavior or inability to respond, etc?

3) Anyone have the opposite experience than ours--that the partner with ADHD's needs don't get met, and the non-ADHD partner's needs do?

4) Any ideas about how I could do a better job of framing my needs, or expressing my hurt, without his feeling that he is being criticized for aspects of his disability which are beyond his control?

My partner is heartbreakingly sad when have a conversation like today's. I feel awful for him--but I can't spend my whole life feeling bad that my needs make him feel bad. After all, no one else is feeling bad for me that my needs don't get met. And it sometimes feels as though I am little by little disappearing from the earth through massive lack of attention. I have little time and energy to focus on myself, he says he cannot focus on me, and we as a collective unit mostly engage with his point of view, needs and concerns, not mine or shared ones. This all seems very unhealthy to me.

I'd appreciate any thoughts on all this--thanks in advance--

stef
07-14-14, 11:48 AM
but maybe this is ok?
he acknowledges your needs
he can't meet them so he feels heartbroken, so literally, he wishes they didn't matter to you...not selfishly, but because he doesn't want to hurt you.

Stevuke79
07-14-14, 12:53 PM
In a post you once wrote, You can't argue with can't (or can't is pretty non negotiable -something like that); I thought it was brilliant. But it applies to you too - just like someone might have a disability and not be able to do certain things - you might not be able to be happy or fulfilled if you're not getting what you need. I always feel like in your relationship you're the only one accepting reality. I've said this before - I really think what's missing is what's coming from HIM, not you. In response to your questions:

1) Does anyone else have this kind of a dialogue within their relationship? About the ADHD partner wishing that his or her problematic symptoms or personal shortcomings just didn't matter to the non-ADHD partner?

No, not really. I might say I wish I wasn't so hard to deal with, but it sounds more like he's putting the onus and responsibility on you. I do discuss with my wife what she NEEDS, and what I NRRF, and we try to figure out what I CAN do, and what she CAN do, and we try to find the intersection so we can' both get what we need.

2) What about the general notion that other people simply shouldn't be affected by someone's behavior or inability to respond, etc?

We discuss something different, we discuss how we feel about how we respond and behave to each other and what we infer and how that makes us feel. We can then discuss first of all if some of the inferences are wrong (for instance, if you say "Steven" and I don't respond, it doesn't mean I'm ignoring you, .. just tap me on the shoulder and wait 10 seconds for me to parachute in.) Most importantly we discuss how we CAN respond, and in the set of what CAN be done, which of those could we pick to make the other feel better.

You guys really need these conversations. It can't just end with it getting short circuited when he says, "I have ADHD." It needs to be, I have ADHD, so help me figure out what I can do or say and what you can expect, to make us both happier.

3) Anyone have the opposite experience than ours--that the partner with ADHD's needs don't get met, and the non-ADHD partner's needs do?

Yeah, sometimes. It's back and forth. And we both have kind of a "safe language" to discuss it all. We have to constantly reevaluate, change, and re-promise our expectations to each other as we learn and develop what we both need.

4) Any ideas about how I could do a better job of framing my needs, or expressing my hurt, without his feeling that he is being criticized for aspects of his disability which are beyond his control?

So glad you asked - :D. I would say that you want to talk to him about how you guys interact (or whatever, I may be projecting the term) and you know it often hurts his feelings so you want to start off by saying how much you appreciate him and all you want to discuss is what you both can do, you and him, to make you both feel more at peace with your interactions.

If he says, "well, one thing I need is for you to not discuss what you need." .. I would say something to the effect, "I appreciate that, and you've said it's because it makes you feel X, Y, Z, .. one of the things I need is to be able to talk about A,B, C,.. when we can't do that I feel A, B, C,.. is there a way we can talk about the things that I need, in a way that wont make you feel X,Y Z.. " (maybe you set a time,..or certain words or references set him off.. but I don't think anyone can accept that they CAN'T EVER discuss what they need. I think you need to figure out how you CAN discuss that in a way that he can accept.)

You might need a professional to help you figure this out. I and my wife did at one point and it helped - doctors are just good at this stuff and we now have a language that we've agreed upon to discuss these things. I think online I seem very level headed and reasonable, but my wife puts up with a lot of explosions, cursing, me totally dropping the ball on stuff, my forgetfullness, my anger, even rage sometimes .. (last week she said something to me on the phone that I just couldn't take - I snapped the phone in half and had to call her back from my cell. (I'm 35 years old!!!! And really, After thinking for 10 seconds, what she said was really very reasonable and considerate. That poor phone!!) She gets very immature and inappropriate behavior from me, really less than a wife should expect from an adult husband,.. that's in addition to outbursts, twitching, obsessive behavior, obsessive speaking and repeating words, .. and we survive all of that because we can talk about it. I also think we survive she knows I'm very sorry because she see's me doing things that we both agreed would make her feel better about it all. I think you might need that.

RedHairedWitch
07-14-14, 01:07 PM
I think what stef said is very well put.

I imagine that this is an expression of frustration and despair, not directed at you so much as at himself.

Now, in regards to my relationship, we both have ADHD. We recently announced our engagement and are planning on tying the knot in early spring (yay!). At a dinner out, few of our friends were asking about our decision to make it official and about our relationship. Most were making the stereotypical relationship comments

"I couldn't function without my wife, she knows where everything is"
"It must be because you work so well together?"

And so forth.

I said "We have a relationship built on a solid foundation of independence, individuality and self reliance."

Silence.

I gave a little speech about how he doesn't remind me to do anything and I don't remind him to do anything. We don't help each other find our socks in the morning. When we are packing to go camping, he has his list and I have mine.
We have divided up the responsibility of the household and expect the other to manage their side, without asking, reminding or worrying. One of my duties is the dogs and cats. If we go camping and I didn't pack enough pet food, then I go drive into town and buy more pet food. And he says nothing on the matter and has nothing to do with it. One of his responsibilities is the rec room, i have never once said a thing about the level of mess in it. Though if i come home to find it clean (which happens every now and then) I do say something complementary, but it's not expected.
I said that we don't hold the other responsible for each other's happiness.
Due to commitments and work, we often don't see each other for a couple of days and week, and that's totally fine. We have our own lives. We simply enjoy being in each other's general vicinity.
Etc and so on.

More silence.

Then, our friends smiled and said that we are crazy people but clearly made for each other.

We have a good relationship exactly because our personal shortcoming and symptoms don't matter to each other. We just accept them. I'm going to forget dog food. He's going to clean the rec room maybe every two months. He talks a lot. I often don't pay attention when he's talking. so f-ing what? We enjoy being in each other's general vicinity. That's all we need to be happy with each other.

this is by far the easiest relationship i ever had. As was agreed upon before we moved in together. We actually made the decision that we were going to build an easy and low maintenance relationship. Since it seems we have managed to do just that, and are quite content, we are getting married.

I suppose for many ADHDers, and possibly for your husband, this is the ideal. Sadly, this is probably not what you want in a partnership.

VeryTired
07-14-14, 01:49 PM
Stef, thanks--

I really value you point of view, and so I am thinking about what you said. Perhaps you're right.

The thing is, it feels to me as though all I have to do is say something about one of my needs, and the topic is changed to him, his feelings, his concerns. And there seems to be an assumption that my needs can't be satisfied in our relationship, so that's just my problem, to get over as best I can. And that's very different--to me!--from my needs being "acknowledged."

But I have a feeling you are helping me see the situation from the other side, so I will keep meditating on what you said and see where that gets me. Thanks--

VeryTired
07-14-14, 02:07 PM
Steve--

I have to say, you are one of my heroes here at ADDF. I admire your wisdom so much, and here you are serving some up just for me. BIG thanks! I always wondered if you were as reasonable in real life as you are here--it's strangely almost reassuring to find out that you have your uncontrolled moments, also. More to the point, I love what you said about your making efforts to do what you and your wife have discussed, and her seeing and appreciating it. I think your marriage sounds like a really great one. I am impressed with how you describe it, and how you manage the problems that arise. Your wife sounds like a great person, too. Admiration to you both!

There is so much for me to ponder in what you wrote here. I find the understanding of my situation that you offer to be enormously sustaining. Thanks for pointing out that the non-negotiability of CAN'T applies to everyone. Such a good point!

I wonder if I am a good reporter about my relationship. I am not sure what my partner's reaction would be to the idea that I deal with reality and he doesn't. I often think that myself. (And I think my therapist thinks that.) Maybe this is something we will sometime find a good way to explore …

I'm struck that you mentioned the idea of a "safe language." I said exactly this to my partner this morning, that we need to have safe conversations, using safe vocabulary, in safe ways. He didn't really say anything, but I think he may be thinking about it. Hard to say.

I like your outline for the conversation my partner and I could have. You are generous to take the time to lay it out for me like that, thanks! I think what you suggested makes a lot of sense. We have tried couples counseling, twice, without much success. We spent a couple years on it. One problem was that my partner couldn't retain the conversations we had there for the duration of the session, or afterwards. If we talked exclusively about him, he got a lot out of it. When we talked about us or me, not so much. And then my insurance stopped paying for it. Maybe we can try again, sometime.

MANY thanks for this extremely helpful and substantive reply--you have given me a lot to work with here!

VeryTired
07-14-14, 02:20 PM
RHW--

wow, CONGRATULATIONS!!! And all good wishes to you and your fiancé.

I have often enjoyed the stories you tell here of your relationship and way of life. I like your independence and autonomy, your lack of concern for convention and outsiders' expectations. I think those are great qualities. And you make an extremely eloquent advocate for your point of view, always. The fact that you can be quite tough about the points you most believe in is also impressive.

It's helpful to me to see your experiences in contrast to my own, since they are so different. The shared goal you two have of the easy and low-maintenance relationship is a fine one. As you surmise, it's not my own ideal, but I can definitely see the attraction, and it sounds as though this works great for you. In my case, though, the irony is that my partner would probably have a harder time living in the low-maintenance relationship than I would. He is often high maintenance, high drama, and not an easy guy. In fact, the leading cause of my unrequitedly wanting him to attend somewhat to my needs is his generating many crises in a row that require my attending to his.

But that's not the point. The take-away for me from what you said is that perhaps my partner and I can find a safe way to have a talk about what really are and are not our shared relationship goals/protocols/styles. Then if we can get clear about that, maybe we can each consider whether each of us is ir is not not good with what's actually possible for us.

Meanwhile, it makes my day to hear your happy news and to think about how somewhere in Canada there are two happy and compatible people who found each other and built a really great relationship that suits them both so well. And I hope you'll share wedding pictures with us here when the day comes!

Lunacie
07-14-14, 03:12 PM
Steve--


I wonder if I am a good reporter about my relationship. I am not sure what my partner's reaction would be to the idea that I deal with reality and he doesn't. I often think that myself. (And I think my therapist thinks that.) Maybe this is something we will sometime find a good way to explore …




I would be so insulted by this perception. My reality sometimes isn't the same as my daughter's reality

(we are both divorced and live together, I'm helping raise my special needs grandkids)

and we sometimes sit down and just chat about our different ways of seeing things.

We don't guilt each other over our differing perceptions.

Sometimes what the other person says makes good sense.

Other times we just shake our heads and try to keep it in mind.


Our reality can be very difficult ... I'm trying to think of some good books I've read
that explain these difficulties but can't at the moment.

Dizfriz explains (http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=60130) some of these things in dealing with a child - but we don't grow out of them really.

And this is a really big thread where we have shared what the reality of having ADHD is like for us: You know you have ADHD when ... (http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=107235&highlight=adhd)

GRbiker
07-14-14, 03:47 PM
1) Does anyone else have this kind of a dialogue within their relationship? About the ADHD partner wishing that his or her problematic symptoms or personal shortcomings just didn't matter to the non-ADHD partner?

We have less of a dialog like this now than we once did, as I have been taking more responsibility for my actions/reactions rather than blaming ADD, my upbringing, past relationships, etc. However, I think this all the time in the privacy of my own mind. It is a hot button issue. I no longer feel like I am able to express that out loud. It is not fair or constructive. One's personal shortcomings resulting in anothers needs being unmet sounds a bit like yelling at the dog for not being a cat (DVD had a parable about this somewhere). It doesn't excuse the ADDer from trying to meet the needs they are capable of meeting, or helping in some way.

In my relationship, I feel there is a lot of resentment on both sides from this, and it is confusing and painful for me to try and puzzle it out.

2) What about the general notion that other people simply shouldn't be affected by someone's behavior or inability to respond, etc?

If you really wanted a cat, get a cat! What to do about the dog, then? :confused:

One thing that I have been working on is accepting that I have done things, behaved in certain ways in the past, that may have been the result of undiagnosed/untreated ADD and that I can't do anything about that, it's passed. I can only apologize and learn from it. Some of the same things keep happening though, so it seems that I'm not really trying. I am, but it's hard.

It sometimes sounds like your frustration comes from your partner's unwillingness to TRY, that he is comfortable blaming the ADD, and in effect saying "I'm a dog, I'm not going to lay in your lap and purr!" If he could show a genuine effort, with some tangible results would things be better?

3) Anyone have the opposite experience than ours--that the partner with ADHD's needs don't get met, and the non-ADHD partner's needs do?

I feel my needs are often suppressed as I try and meet some of my partner's needs. I know my partner would disagree, that I get my "needs" met by being obstinate or checking out. That might be true, but those needs are more "reptilian" or reactive than real.

My partner has often said that I just need to find someone who is as disorganized as I am, and we could live happily in clutter, mess and chaos.
The thing is, I don't want to live in disorganization and clutter. I try to be organized and neat, it is a challenge, and sometimes things get out of hand. But I don't LIKE it. I will admit to being dependent on my partner for keeping things in order.

4) Any ideas about how I could do a better job of framing my needs, or expressing my hurt, without his feeling that he is being criticized for aspects of his disability which are beyond his control?

Stevuke's method seems good, (and big congratulations to both of you for being able to stick it out). I don't know if I would be able to remember to use "safe" language before reacting, even though I have gotten loads better at patiently and attentively listening. Listening isn't enough, though, because that isn't the primary need. I've always been a good listener, able to provide understanding and a different perspective, but that seems to go away when the subject is me and my shortcomings.

This gets into an area of higher functioning communication than I may be capable of. My gut reaction is that it seems like role playing, and that I would not take it seriously, because, really why not have a relationship built on "independence, individuality, and self reliance"?



Congratulations, RHW! I would have given you a standing ovation following your speech.

Stevuke79
07-14-14, 03:53 PM
I hope this comes across the right way and not too intrusive. It seems like you're doing everything right except for one piece. It seems like you make an effort to understand and have the necessary dialogues - you try to talk to your partner about how you can both get what you need.

To me it seems the only thing you are not doing, that you absolutely need to do, is to hold his feet to the fire and to unequivocally insist that you and your partner find a time and place for this conversation. It seems like he always derails the conversation and disallows you from having it. You either need to not let him do that OR you need to decide if status-quo is acceptable to you.

Steve--

I have to say, you are one of my heroes here at ADDF. I admire your wisdom so much, and here you are serving some up just for me. BIG thanks! I always wondered if you were as reasonable in real life as you are here--it's strangely almost reassuring to find out that you have your uncontrolled moments, also. More to the point, I love what you said about your making efforts to do what you and your wife have discussed, and her seeing and appreciating it. I think your marriage sounds like a really great one. I am impressed with how you describe it, and how you manage the problems that arise. Your wife sounds like a great person, too. Admiration to you both!

There is so much for me to ponder in what you wrote here. I find the understanding of my situation that you offer to be enormously sustaining. Thanks for pointing out that the non-negotiability of CAN'T applies to everyone. Such a good point!

I wonder if I am a good reporter about my relationship. I am not sure what my partner's reaction would be to the idea that I deal with reality and he doesn't. I often think that myself. (And I think my therapist thinks that.) Maybe this is something we will sometime find a good way to explore …

I'm struck that you mentioned the idea of a "safe language." I said exactly this to my partner this morning, that we need to have safe conversations, using safe vocabulary, in safe ways. He didn't really say anything, but I think he may be thinking about it. Hard to say.

I like your outline for the conversation my partner and I could have. You are generous to take the time to lay it out for me like that, thanks! I think what you suggested makes a lot of sense. We have tried couples counseling, twice, without much success. We spent a couple years on it. One problem was that my partner couldn't retain the conversations we had there for the duration of the session, or afterwards. If we talked exclusively about him, he got a lot out of it. When we talked about us or me, not so much. And then my insurance stopped paying for it. Maybe we can try again, sometime.

MANY thanks for this extremely helpful and substantive reply--you have given me a lot to work with here!

VeryTired
07-14-14, 05:03 PM
Lunacie,

Thank you for this. Of course I see what you are saying. And I said that I wasn't sure what my partner would say to the idea that I am more grounded in reality than he is--I think perhaps he would be offended also.

But it's also true that he often asks me if I think he is making up unrealistic stories for himself, getting the wrong end of the stick, or not taking in all the data he needs to know in a given situation. He says that it's easy for him to miss what's happening and go off on tangents based on fragmentary perceptions. It happens enough that he worries about it and asks me for help with it. Whereas this isn't something that I seem to have much problem with. But we do indeed all live in our own subjective realities to a considerable degree.

GRbiker
07-14-14, 05:14 PM
One thing that this thread has brought up for me is that why didn't this seem to matter to anyone else? At least enough for them to say "I have a problem with the way you are!"

This is my second long term relationship, I was married for 5 years, which ended about 17 years ago, I've been with my partner for 11 years. So if I really have ADD, then I've had it for a long time, not just for the 2 1/2 years since my diagnosis, or the past 8-9 years when it seemed the wheels were falling off, why didn't anyone else seem to care?

The main answer is that the symptoms didn't really present a problem until I started having more adult responsibilities, demands, wants and needs. Becoming a homeowner, life partner and parent exposed my shortcomings and therapy identified the problem and treatment is helping with the symptoms and tendencies. It ain't makin' me into a different person, though things are much better than they used to be.

What matters now is that I'm no longer a single guy without a lot of responsibilities, and that "not wanting it to matter" means wanting to be that single guy without responsibilities again. That's a problem.

VeryTired
07-14-14, 05:27 PM
GRbiker--

Thanks for this thoughtful reply. It's interesting to me to see both where there are similarities in our situations and differences.

Yes indeed, I too recall dvd's parable of the dog/cat. There's profound truth in that. I have thought about it often. But the pet analogy only goes so far, however, since people usually require reciprocity, and can discuss the relationship, and have freely chosen to participate in it! Maybe this is an assumption I need to examine further, though, and probably it is one to discuss with my partner.

I don't think both people in a partnership need to contribute identically. But I do think, overall, both should feel there is parity in general--that both are indeed contributing to comparable degrees. I see that as foundational to partnership.

My partner may be "blaming" his ADHD for various stuff--it seems so to me sometimes. I think he'd say, though, that the problem is instead that I don't accept and accommodate his ADHD as well as I should. But he also sometimes lumps me together with all the people in his life (over many decades before he met me, and long before his ADHD diagnosis) who ever told him he was lazy or crazy or whatever. I do not say those things to him, and I do try to understand. But he says that my voicing my own needs and concerns makes me part of that chorus of uncomprehending people. Maybe this goes right back to the cat/dog stuff, I don't know.

I have a similar discussion with my partner to what you mentioned, about whether he'd be happier with someone more similar to him than I am. He says no way. He wants much of what I work to bring into our life together, but says he isn't able to share that work. It's very sad to say this, but I think he probably feels that he can't do most of what I want and need, and so he often doesn't try. He also tends to report that just living is hard enough for him, because of his ADHD, so that relationship stuff is often too much on top of that. I don't know what to say to that--it seems to me in relationships, everyone has to contribute, and there isn't success until everyone's needs are fairly well met.

Anyway, congrats on "taking more responsibility"--that sounds like an important success.

GRbiker
07-14-14, 05:32 PM
Lunacie,

Thank you for this. Of course I see what you are saying. And I said that I wasn't sure what my partner would say to the idea that I am more grounded in reality than he is--I think perhaps he would be offended also.


I've been told this by my partner, and I found it offensive, though true on some levels, so what then? I know that my perception is filtered through my experiences, upbringing, impairments and psychological conditions, among other things. That is true of everyone. I also know I'm not crazy.

It's when someone starts to imply that perceptions are truth, that being more grounded is therefore closer to truth, that it becomes a problem. Or that someone is not accepting that their perception is affected by their impairments, conditions, upbringing, experiences, and therefore not necessarily the "truth".

Our perception is reality as we see it, but we have a responsibility to acknowledge our personal bias and its causes in that perception. Your partner, VT, seems to have trouble with this. And as you stated, a partnership is based on a foundation that both people will contribute to seeing that each others needs are met.

My therapist has me reading "The Five Love Languages" to help me understand the emotional needs of a relationship. It is kind of simplistic, but it is helping me see things differently, my responsibility in trying to meet my partners needs, and finding ways to have my needs known. It may not mean that either of us are going to be able to fulfill these needs, but I have discovered that I at least want to try. Otherwise, it seems to me that I wouldn't really be a relationship I'm looking for, but someone to shelter me from the effects of this disorder. That isn't fair to ask of another if they are expecting more.

VeryTired
07-14-14, 05:34 PM
Stevuke--

Great advice there. I do need to do what you said. Part of being "VeryTired" is that I really am very tired, all the time. Which means that I just can't face doing quite a few things I should. I struggle to keep the time and energy I need for my own stuff, for daily chores, for relationship work, etc … and whenever I am not getting a lot of buy-in on a project, it's easy to let it slide. Also, fear of arguments, or emotional storms, or big dramas can definitely translate to avoidance.

The good thing is, nothing helps me more than clarity. It's invigorating. And today's discussion with the helpful folks at ADDF has certainly given me a lot of clarity. I think I will be able to work with that. Thanks so much.

aeon
07-14-14, 06:31 PM
It could be that from years of disappointing others (and himself), perhaps combined with shaming and/or invalidation, he thinks and feels he is inadequate in that way (and likely many others). Your asking for help in having your needs met might be experienced by him as emotionally overloading, combining a bewildering mix of fear, shame, and love for you.

That said, it doesn't excuse it. "It" being his not receiving you, leading to your not being heard, and in turn, your needs going unmet.

I don't believe in can't, as least as it applies to growth and self-development. Those things are difficult, yes, but unwillingness is not inability.

I think you are being entirely reasonable in both your thoughts and your expectations. Not that they will always be met, but that he tries, he is willing, that he makes his best effort.

ADHD makes things difficult, and by grace I go forward with mine. Who am I to judge? That said, ADHD doesn't excuse anyone from their responsibility, and using it as an excuse seems damned selfish to me.

Even if the reason is trying to avoid some kind of pain and suffering. That's understandable, yes, but acceptable? Not to me it isn't. That's got to be worked through - in therapy - not with you as his counselor.

ADHD or not, no one can go through life in me-me-me mode, certainly not if they are in relationships with others.

I know you didn't ask for my opinion, much less any judgement, good or bad, based in reality or speculation, or otherwise, so if the above is found offensive I offer my apology in advance.

As I read through the thread some things stuck in my craw and I chose not to hold my tongue.

I mean, needs are needs. They can only be ignored or dismissed for so long before terrible consequences come home to roost.

Yes, you are responsible for your own needs, and all you can do is ask. On the other hand, I think he, as your husband, has a responsibility to you, as his wife, and that responsibility is neither dismissable or negotiable.

It feels weird to say I feel angry on your behalf, but I feel angry. :mad:

sarahsweets
07-15-14, 06:11 AM
Very tired: I wish you had more willingness from your partner because you deserve it.

RobboW
07-15-14, 07:15 AM
I wish my wife was interested in working it out. She is just not interested in any compromise to find a workable medium. I just have to try and fit the norm as much as possible whilst she grumbles about this and that having to happen. I understand that but often am just incapable of meeting her need. I might not even be aware exactly what it is. I try to talk about it but feel like I bang my head against the wall. Sometimes it's a verbal list of things she wants me to do. I struggle to remember them and she often refuses to run a task list I can work off, then gets,s shirty when I fail, she also constantly resists me doing things in my own order. If I do it my way I tend to get more done than her trying to fit me to her mold which is of course round, when I am square. Meeting emotional needs is also difficult. It always feels very one sided to me. Take take take, but I feel there is not a lot of give. We run at different speeds and it feels like I'm always being pushed or dragged to keep up, but in other aspects I often feel like she just will never get me and can't understand a lot of things I just get straight away, or understand intuitively.

It's like our lives are circles that intersect partway through circumferences. This all gets worse as our lives complicate more and more. Like her life circle gets much larger and mine only a little, so our meeting point seems smaller and smaller. The harder she tries to make me fit in her circle, the more she stretches me out of shape, closer to breaking.

I don't know if this adds anything to this thread, but thought I could add in a bit of perspective from the other side. ADHD may be a description of a type, but we are still individual people with needs and feelings and maybe cannot effectively communicate them verbally.

Fuzzy12
07-15-14, 08:40 AM
Yes, I often definitely wish that my shortcomings, issues, problems, etc. didn't matter to others, in particular, my husband and it does make me sad that they do matter.

But then I don't see how they wouldn't matter. Of course, they affect him and of course, he should be able to discuss them and of course, I should at least try to improve things as much as I can in our relationship..just as he does.

1) Does anyone else have this kind of a dialogue within their relationship? About the ADHD partner wishing that his or her problematic symptoms or personal shortcomings just didn't matter to the non-ADHD partner?

Yes, I guess we have. It's not so much an issue now since my diagnosis but I can imagine that I have expressed the wish that my shortcomings didn't matter to him.


2) What about the general notion that other people simply shouldn't be affected by someone's behavior or inability to respond, etc?

This is highly situational. In some cases, it genuinely doesn't matter, isn't worth the effort to change or the easiest might just be for the other person to accept this shortcoming. In other cases, the short coming is just too detrimental to the relationship, too hurtful or damaging to the other person and then you can't just expect them to accept it and move on.

In your case, to be honest, I don't think that this is something you'd ever be able to accept..or accept and be happy with. Communication is super important and not feeling heard, feeling that you don't have a voice or your views/thoughts/feelings don't matter are too significant and too impactful topics to just accept. In a way, all these are things that make a relationship, any relationship, and maybe without them it doesn't really feel like a relationship.


3) Anyone have the opposite experience than ours--that the partner with ADHD's needs don't get met, and the non-ADHD partner's needs do?

Yes, we have that problem as well. I guess, we both have needs that don't get met by the other person though my husband does work very hard to change so that my needs are met. I try as well but with less success.

4) Any ideas about how I could do a better job of framing my needs, or expressing my hurt, without his feeling that he is being criticized for aspects of his disability which are beyond his control?

I really don't know. Based on all your posts I think you've been as understanding and kind as can be humanly expected. To be honest, I'm not sure if the problem is with the way you express your needs. At least not entirely. It seems to me that his problem is that you've got needs. Maybe the fact that he can't meet them is secondary and another discussion. I could be wrong but it seems like he doesn't even want to consider or think about your needs or accept that you have needs let alone think about how to meet them.


My partner is heartbreakingly sad when have a conversation like today's. I feel awful for him--but I can't spend my whole life feeling bad that my needs make him feel bad. After all, no one else is feeling bad for me that my needs don't get met.

I feel bad for you. I know, it doesn't help but I really wish you weren't in this difficult position.

And it sometimes feels as though I am little by little disappearing from the earth through massive lack of attention. I have little time and energy to focus on myself, he says he cannot focus on me, and we as a collective unit mostly engage with his point of view, needs and concerns, not mine or shared ones. This all seems very unhealthy to me.

It does sound very unhealthy and it's obviously making you very unhappy. I think, most people would be unhappy in this situation.

I'm not sure how you could change the situation. It seems to me that you have tried very hard and done a lot of work on yourself to make his life easier and to meet his needs but you shouldn't have to completely give up on your needs. Pretty basic needs really. That's not a relationship but just one person living for the other and ADHD or not, I don't think anyone can expect that from another human being.

I'm sorry, if I'm sounding harsh. I do feel for him. I know how difficult it is to change and I know how painful it is when you realise that you aren't making your partner happy. Unfortunately that is the reality of the situation though and refusing to hear about it doesn't improve the situation. On the contrary. You are basically getting hurt twice. Once because your needs aren't met and then again because you aren't even allowed to talk about it.

I don't know if this is good advice but I think you've spent enough time focussing on how you can change for the sake of the relationship. It's important to do that but you've done it. A lot. I believe that it's really he who needs to change. If he can, I really don't know. I believe, and I could be completely wrong, that there is more that he can do. If he doesn't then I really don't know what else you could do. Maybe you could focus more on your needs (i.e. needs that don't involve him) and maybe this requires redirecting some of the energy and time that you spend on him back to yourself.

VeryTired
07-15-14, 01:07 PM
Aeon, Sarah, Fuzzy--

Thank you so much for the support. It's tremendously encouraging. And very helpful to hear your experiences and perspectives in particular, Fuzzy.

RobboW--

Sympathy to you for what sounds as if it can be a painful situation. I was really struck and moved by what you said about the circles. I think my partner and I are struggling with something very similar, but I never thought of it that way before. Thanks for sharing your point of view.

VeryTired
07-15-14, 01:23 PM
Update:

So, last night my partner came home from work and to my surprise, launched into a long and detailed explanation of what's been going on with him lately. I was surprised.

He says he sometimes gets into these cycles where anxiety builds around an issue for six weeks or so until it topples over into crushing depression. I've seen this happen to him before, though I never timed the intervals or really understood the mechanism. And I had no idea it was happening now.

Anyway, he said he had just about reached the anxiety-becomes-depression point, but he thinks that this time, realizing it, talking about it, and practicing CBT may stop it from going into the full-fledged depressive misery. And he said the topic of the anxiety this time has been me, my (un-)happiness, my needs, and his (in-)ability to meet them. Which certainly explains his getting mad, changing the subject, or ignoring anything I have tried to say lately about my feelings and needs. And it definitely fits with the frequent bringing up of the "I wish it didn't matter" theme.

He said he is extremely aware that I need important things from our relationship that it isn't providing, and he hates it. He also said that he thinks we might actually be able to focus upon that and talk about possible solutions IF he can just get past the rising panic and desperation of the cycle he's been in.

So we agreed that--for now--if I mention a need and it triggers his anxiety, he can immediately stop the conversation and go away as long as he promises at a later date--when he can--to get back to me and acknowledge what I said and tell me that it had been a case of incipient panic. So he gets the time out he needs, and I get the acknowledgment (eventually) that I need.

We'll see how this goes, but I think it's way more hopeful than how things seemed when I wrote the OP. It is still hard on me to be living with someone else's explosive panic/anxiety/depression and with the knowledge that it's often not going to be possible for me to talk about things that are important to me. But at least now we can sometimes try to be in the same conversation, when it feels safe enough to him to talk at all. That's big progress.

Yesterday was a really hard day for me--I wouldn't have made it through the day and been able to listen when my partner got home if it hadn't been for the help, support, and thoughtful discussion here. I owe a great deal to all of you and to the ADDF. Many thanks.

Stevuke79
07-15-14, 05:02 PM
That's brilliant - I think that's exactly what needed to happen.

GRbiker
07-15-14, 05:39 PM
Good to hear that he is making an effort at understanding himself. I think that is the essence of your critique of the dog/cat parable. We are humans and are able to analyze, understand and change our behavior and how we treat each other, even if we have significant impairments. A dog is always going to be a dog.

RedHairedWitch
07-15-14, 06:03 PM
If he is experiencing anxiety and depression cycles of that nature ... has he been checked out for bi-polar? A lot of Bi-polar people get misdiagnosed for ADHD. But AdHDers do not cycle like that.

Lunacie
07-15-14, 07:32 PM
Good for both of you. My daughter hates it that sometimes I need time to process something before answering.

If she didn't freak out when I can't answer right away, it would help me a lot.

She apparently understands that my 12 year old granddaughter needs time to process,
but apparently I should have grown out of that by now or something.

daveddd
07-15-14, 07:53 PM
If he is experiencing anxiety and depression cycles of that nature ... has he been checked out for bi-polar? A lot of Bi-polar people get misdiagnosed for ADHD. But AdHDers do not cycle like that.

sure they do

its called emotional dysregulation and affects about 85% of people with adhd

bipolar requires episodes of mania, which can ultimately result from chronic emotional dysregulation

Unmanagable
07-15-14, 08:59 PM
I started this much earlier and kept coming back to it in between calls, etc. I hope it isn't too scattered and tattered.

Random thoughts coming from someone who is the adhd partner, who struggled painfully for years, always trying to fit the mold of being the typical good wife, good step-mom, good domesticated diva, good lover, good employee, good daughter, good aunt, good this, good that. Then I learned I'm not typical, so why settle for such low expectations. ;)

I exhausted myself trying too hard and kicking my own a** for not ever feeling like I lived up to the expectation of others, even when they tried to reassure me. I was eventually able to see that when I sought reassurance from external means, disappointment was quick to follow, even when it wasn't intentional. Still, being able to see it and recognize it doesn't always ensure a good choice in handling it, depending on surrounding circumstances. I never really felt secure inside, about anything.

The least little jar of memory of any unpleasant experience with anything remotely similar, regardless of who I was interacting with, would always send me back to those damn feelings again, and the vicious cycle would continue. I stayed so angry and perplexed and used up all of my energy in trying to mentally sort it all out.

I used to assume things about my NT husband, just because of the label NT and my perception of it. My thoughts fed my "what-ifness" mind a lot of stuff that continued to complicate our ability to healthily communicate. He would always assume it's better to leave me alone than pursue conversation. I thought he needed to communicate better and he thought he already was by leaving me alone. :)

Along with the right meds and initial help from a therapist, mindful awareness, deep breathing, and tapping into my heartfelt passions have worked out many of the communication kinks that I wasn't sure were workable.

Learning how to best nurture ourselves daily, and following through, beyond just therapies and doctors, creates openings that allows a lot of things to work out naturally. I used to feel way too guilty and/or too exhausted from not feeling heard to take proper care of myself. Not proper based on a societal definition, but proper based on my individual needs. I'd start thinking wtf does it matter and why should I bother.

Being able to replace that head space of mine with thoughts of my next rhythm circle opportunity, being out in nature, helping others, enjoying my music immersion, gardening, community outreach, etc. instead of the constant dread and worry of "what is wrong, why can't I figure this s*** out, how will I f** things up today, what will I say to set things off this time, and what will I do when it finally falls apart" did the most to improve things. I no longer rationed my happiness based on what I felt I deserved. I made it my priority.

Enhancing the stressful experience of figuring all of this out (no matter who the person is or what the issues are) by also helping each other learn what soothes our soul, giving each other space to tap into things that we love, and doing more of that can provide a level of comfort that helps pad the blows of our struggles.

VeryTired
07-15-14, 10:04 PM
Thanks everyone. I think daveddd has it right here--for my partner, the emotional dysregulation is huge, and it's actually extremely different from bipolar, though I see why RHW thought of that.

Unmanageable, I find what you wrote to be extremely powerful and full of insight. What really stands out for me is when you said:

"The least little jar of memory of any unpleasant experience with anything remotely similar, regardless of who I was interacting with, would always send me back to those damn feelings again, and the vicious cycle would continue. I stayed so angry and perplexed and used up all of my energy in trying to mentally sort it all out."

Thanks so much for sharing this.