View Full Version : Christmas with ADD


ufie6290
12-27-15, 06:50 AM
I suppose I'm writing this just to vent. My wife of 20 years has been diagnosed / treated for ADD for a little more than 6 years. She sees a psychiatrist for meds. We go to a therapist every 2 weeks. Many things are better. Some are not. And sometimes I'm overwhelmed at the differences between how I think life ought to be and how things are.

How Christmas happens in our home exemplifies those differences in a very stark way.

I planned and purchased all the presents for our immediate and extended families, including her family. I've learned that if I don't, they simply won't happen. I can't handle allowing this part of Christmas to fail, because nobody else in our families really understands ADD and they certainly wouldn't interpret a yearly failing to participate in a gift exchange as a positive event.

What I mean by "presents" isn't just some cute little thing that will become clutter in short order. I mean something that is thoughtful and appropriate for the receiver. I'm not necessarily talking about stuff, I am including meaningful service as well.

Rather than actually planning ahead for Christmas, she gets overwhelmed early and starts planning on how bad she's going to feel and how much apologizing will then happen. And she does this starting weeks and weeks before the holiday. (This absolutely applies to any other gift-giving occasion like birthdays, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day...)

So I arranged the sibling exchanges, the presents for her parents and mine, for her, and for my daughter. I wasn't stunned or surprised when I handed her all the presents that needed wrapping and then had to lay out exactly which presents were for our whole family, which ones were to our daughter from a grandparent, which ones were from us, and which ones might be labeled that they were from Santa. And had to lay it out more than once. Even though she was the one who picked up the (unwrapped) presents from her mom and was with me when all of the other presents were purchased.

When she was about 3/4 done with the wrapping, she asked me, "Are you going to be able to unwrap any presents that are just for you?" Meaning presents not labeled as family presents. I responded with, "I don't know. Do you have anything that's just for me?" And she didn't. I did buy a set of extreme dot-to-dot books that were divided up as one for me, one for her, and one for the child, so there was one present with just my name on it.

On Christmas morning, she actually said, out loud, in front of our daughter, "Daddy is getting left out."

I don't feel that I'm lacking in material possessions in any way. I don't need more stuff. If there is something that I need, I will purchase it. Mostly I try to focus on decluttering, not adding to the pile.

For the last 20 years, what I have gotten from her for my birthday and Christmas is permission to spend money on myself. I'm the one who brings in the paycheck and deals with the finances in every way. I don't require permission spend money, especially when she doesn't have any idea how much there is/isn't and that is because she refuses to know, not because I hide anything.

What I do require is some attention. Some acknowledgment. Something that shows she actually thinks about me and wants me to know it. I don't feel loved when the gift is, "Go buy yourself something nice."

Christmas dinner was at a restaurant because I didn't want to deal with the planning, cooking, and cleaning on top of everything else. It was pretty good, too.

I honestly cannot recall a single, thoughtful gift from her. Like making me breakfast when I get home from work in the morning. Like help with yardwork. Or like cleaning a room (living room, kitchen, bathroom) spontaneously, without me having to specifically request it (possibly multiple times). Side note: I'm a full time night shifter, she's a full time stay at home mom. Yes, we do have help cleaning the house every other week, and for a day, the house is clean and I enjoy it.

I suppose that this is how I feel loved, someone doing something for me because they know I would like it.

I know this isn't from malice on her part. Sometimes I feel like I'm furniture -- someone who provides a function and not thought about when I'm not needed. And sometimes I feel like a blank space in her life and not even considered at all, unless she needs something.

I'm tired of feeling like I am the parent of an irresponsible 13-year old.

I know this is long. I don't expect anyone to feel obligated to read or respond. I just needed to say this to someone who might understand.

Thanks.

TygerSan
12-28-15, 11:16 AM
(((Hugs)))

Sounds like both of you are unhappy. Have you actually sat down and talked about gift-giving? Like, not in the heat of the moment, but a calm discussion?

I stink at gift giving. It makes me anxious and so I procrastinate. The people closest to me I have the hardest time thinking of what to get.

Amazon prime saved my bacon this year. Would your wife be willing to look up your wish list on Amazon and choose a gift from a list of things you want? That would cut down on the overwhelm and give her a starting point (starting is often the hardest part).

I know that doesn't help the disappointment for this year nor the feeling that she just doesn't care. Im willing to bet she does still care.

Socaljaxs
12-28-15, 11:41 AM
:grouphug:

Yes it sounds like you go above and beyond for the people you love! I'm sorry, you feel this way in your marriage. It's possible she has no idea you are bothered by it..

I bring this up again (in a past thread I read, I brought it up in regards to another persons concern in their relationship.) since, I believe it does apply Love language... http://https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Five_Love_Languages

Best advice is bring it up, when there isn't a major holiday or a right at a time when she would need to do this asap. But have a solution that may work laid out as well. Or if in therapy (you mentioned you both go, speak to the therapist about it and have the therapist work with you both on this..

I get you don't want other people to lose out on things, due to her ADHD. But, you may need to push her to do more. You doing everything and planning everything and just laying everything out for her, is causing you to have resentment towards her, and that's never good. That negative emotion will spiral farther and farther out of control, until it either blows up or something changes.... Changing, status quo needs to start with you and it may need to be started small....She also, knows you will do it all, but she needs to learn to do things for her self as well. It's easier to be told what needs to be done and having someone else do it.. But she can do things on her own. ADHD will make it harder but not impossible to get things done in life...You doing all these things may be enabling her to not grow... ADHD does not make you an invalid, and she being told and shown every step isn't going to help her out in any way. :grouphug:

dvdnvwls
12-28-15, 05:29 PM
This situation, in itself and for itself, is not very bad. What is bad is the feelings it causes. Any efforts you and your wife make toward fixing it need to be focused on what will really make everyone feel good - or at least better than before.

I mean, we might as well just face the fact that there will always be an unequal division of work when one of you has ADHD and the other doesn't. Trying to directly fix the work imbalance might make some things "look" more fair, but wouldn't necessarily make life happier for anyone. Instead, find solutions that are tailored to making everyone happy as far as possible, and don't spend time trying to directly fix the unequal work.

If you were a "scorekeeper type" - you know, those people who really are genuinely made unhappy by unequal workloads - then disaster would be around the corner. But I get a strong sense that you aren't that type, and that even though we know you'll end up with unequal task lists, you and your wife can work this out so that you and she are both reasonably happy, instead of you constantly getting hurt.


Please keep in mind that when you bring up this topic, even in a calm, kind, rational way, and even with the best of timing, your wife is probably going to be absolutely terrified of talking about it. You will have a lot of soothing and comforting to do, before you can even get around to talking about what you need to talk about. But because the conversation will be focused on "How can we change things so that both of us get to be happy" instead of "You're not doing enough", the outcome will be worth your extended patience and understanding.

sarahsweets
12-31-15, 05:24 AM
I think we are talking about two different issues. The whole gift giving/wrapping for family thing might just be something she will never get, or be able to do. You have to decide if you can live with that. The fact that you feel neglected or not thought of is another issue, We all deserve to be thought of, loved and considered. When we do not experience this by way of actual gifts ( which do not do it justice) or actions we are left with hurts and resentments. I would recommend tackling this subject head on in therapy. And I mean, write out some meaningful 'I feel' thoughts to truly say how this makes you feel. Who knows why it is this way? It could be adhd, or it could be another issue that is unrelated to you or the adhd. You still deserve to at least try and understand why it happens.

ToneTone
01-02-16, 04:08 PM
Yes, I second Sarah: two issues ... you're feeling neglected ... and you're pointing to the gift giving problem as the reason why ...

Thankfully there are a million ways we can nurture each other in relationships. Is there a way that you would love to be nurtured that fits into her circle of competence and confidence?

It sounds like she's low on confidence and has taken the wrong turn that a lot of ADHDers take ... which is to get insecure about all the things we don't do well, thus driving up our anxiety and our insecurity ... and driving down our self esteem ... which leads to less positive action ... which in turns leads to lower esteem ... it's a horrible cycle.

Is there some nurturing skill that she feels reasonably good about--that you can ask for more of? ... She needs to get out of this cycle of helplessness that she is in ... I'm not saying it's your job of course to solve this for her, but sometimes we all need outside help and inspiration and support.

Good luck.

Tone

RedHairedWitch
01-04-16, 04:18 PM
My husband and I both have ADHD, here's just a few thoughts:

You guys might want to check out the book and website The 5 Love Languages.
In any relationship, even non ADHD ones there's always that one person who thinks "if they truly loved me, they'd want to do the dishes". That's usually the gift and acts of service partner. They feel this way, without realizing that their partner is all about loving words and touch. So they ignore all the compliments and hugs, it just goes over their head, while becoming bitter that the dishes aren't done and there's no little gifts coming home.
Meanwhile, the words and touch partner is sad, because they think "If they loved me, they would say nice things to me and cuddle me" while the dishes getting done and the bringing home a coffee goes over their head. Because that's not what they perceive a loving act to be.

It sounds like one of your love languages is gifts, and the other is acts of service. It's totally cool that for you, gifts and doing nice things are signs of love. But it sounds like, for her, gifts and acts of service just meant guilt, inadequacy, and feelings of failure. If you both better understand how each of you show love, and perceive how love and affection is given, it might be a big help.

For example: I am a gift person. My husband is NOT. He is a quality time person. So for my birthday, we go out to a nice dinner and then he takes me shopping and I choose what I want. I get a nice gift and dinner. He shows his care both ways: a gift AND time.
I am a words person, my husband is a touch person. I say "I love you" and he kisses my neck.
French vs Spanish.

*

We exchange gift wish lists in November, usually things easily ordered from Amazon, that can arrive wrapped with the click of a button. The fun is seeing which items from the list we each choose.
We will also go together to the Dollar store or some such one day before the holidays and each buy stocking stuffers for the other. It's fun to run around the store and sneakily pick out items for each other without being seen. We have very large stockings, because it's easier to stuff a stocking than deal with wrapping paper.
Maybe it's not as romantic as expecting your partner to just magically know what you want and go and get it and wrap it themselves. But the real world isn't Disney.

*

For the family presents ... have you guys considered talking to the family about the amount of gifts that must be given?
Most families, once "the kids" are grown, stop buying gifts for each adult. So, you buy gifts for the actual children, but you stop buying gifts for each sibling, spouse, gandparent and parent. Instead there's usually a divide and conquer, brother buys for mom, mom buys for aunt etc. Or each adult brings one gift and you play one of those silly Xmas gift exchange games. Or everyone agrees to just go the gift card route.
This is easier with a large family, easier on the budget, and easier for people with ADHD or busy lives.
It might be time to send an email to the whole family, asking if this might be an option. Chances are the some of the family will be game.

Lloyd_
02-15-16, 05:58 PM
I suppose I'm writing this just to vent. My wife of 20 years has been diagnosed / treated for ADD for a little more than 6 years. She sees a psychiatrist for meds. We go to a therapist every 2 weeks. Many things are better. Some are not. And sometimes I'm overwhelmed at the differences between how I think life ought to be and how things are.

How Christmas happens in our home exemplifies those differences in a very stark way.

I planned and purchased all the presents for our immediate and extended families, including her family. I've learned that if I don't, they simply won't happen. I can't handle allowing this part of Christmas to fail, because nobody else in our families really understands ADD and they certainly wouldn't interpret a yearly failing to participate in a gift exchange as a positive event.

What I mean by "presents" isn't just some cute little thing that will become clutter in short order. I mean something that is thoughtful and appropriate for the receiver. I'm not necessarily talking about stuff, I am including meaningful service as well.

Rather than actually planning ahead for Christmas, she gets overwhelmed early and starts planning on how bad she's going to feel and how much apologizing will then happen. And she does this starting weeks and weeks before the holiday. (This absolutely applies to any other gift-giving occasion like birthdays, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day...)

So I arranged the sibling exchanges, the presents for her parents and mine, for her, and for my daughter. I wasn't stunned or surprised when I handed her all the presents that needed wrapping and then had to lay out exactly which presents were for our whole family, which ones were to our daughter from a grandparent, which ones were from us, and which ones might be labeled that they were from Santa. And had to lay it out more than once. Even though she was the one who picked up the (unwrapped) presents from her mom and was with me when all of the other presents were purchased.

When she was about 3/4 done with the wrapping, she asked me, "Are you going to be able to unwrap any presents that are just for you?" Meaning presents not labeled as family presents. I responded with, "I don't know. Do you have anything that's just for me?" And she didn't. I did buy a set of extreme dot-to-dot books that were divided up as one for me, one for her, and one for the child, so there was one present with just my name on it.

On Christmas morning, she actually said, out loud, in front of our daughter, "Daddy is getting left out."

I don't feel that I'm lacking in material possessions in any way. I don't need more stuff. If there is something that I need, I will purchase it. Mostly I try to focus on decluttering, not adding to the pile.

For the last 20 years, what I have gotten from her for my birthday and Christmas is permission to spend money on myself. I'm the one who brings in the paycheck and deals with the finances in every way. I don't require permission spend money, especially when she doesn't have any idea how much there is/isn't and that is because she refuses to know, not because I hide anything.

What I do require is some attention. Some acknowledgment. Something that shows she actually thinks about me and wants me to know it. I don't feel loved when the gift is, "Go buy yourself something nice."

Christmas dinner was at a restaurant because I didn't want to deal with the planning, cooking, and cleaning on top of everything else. It was pretty good, too.

I honestly cannot recall a single, thoughtful gift from her. Like making me breakfast when I get home from work in the morning. Like help with yardwork. Or like cleaning a room (living room, kitchen, bathroom) spontaneously, without me having to specifically request it (possibly multiple times). Side note: I'm a full time night shifter, she's a full time stay at home mom. Yes, we do have help cleaning the house every other week, and for a day, the house is clean and I enjoy it.

I suppose that this is how I feel loved, someone doing something for me because they know I would like it.

I know this isn't from malice on her part. Sometimes I feel like I'm furniture -- someone who provides a function and not thought about when I'm not needed. And sometimes I feel like a blank space in her life and not even considered at all, unless she needs something.

I'm tired of feeling like I am the parent of an irresponsible 13-year old.

I know this is long. I don't expect anyone to feel obligated to read or respond. I just needed to say this to someone who might understand.

Thanks.

The holidays are stupid to begin with and Christmas is all about retailers making $$$ and getting rid of old inventory.

Keep it simple my friend.

TLCisaQT
02-29-16, 12:16 AM
I felt tired just reading this and I know sometimes I feel like my spouse is like a third child unfortunately :(. You have been given some great feedback so no need for me to repeat burnish wanted you to know that I hear you and it can be very difficult at times and it is okay to let her know what you would like/need. There is no guarantee you will get it but at least you will know you said it!

Stev'o
08-17-16, 05:33 PM
Sounds exactly how I am with gift buying. It is so overwhelming for me. I'm the ADHD, my wife is very thoughtful and considerate.
If I buy her jewelry, it's stuff that's too expensive, or Similar to previous gifts, or not appropriate. I do try to get her flowers, but I loose track of how long it was since last time, it then becomes a make up for, vibe for me.

_Karen_Cee_
08-18-16, 08:40 PM
This part here: "Sometimes I feel like I'm furniture -- someone who provides a function and not thought about when I'm not needed. And sometimes I feel like a blank space in her life and not even considered at all, unless she needs something.

I'm tired of feeling like I am the parent of an irresponsible 13-year old."

THIS is how I'm feeling tonight - well, most days if I'm honest. So I get the feelings you have. I will echo everyone else though...communication is so important. And it's hard to have to say the same thing a bajillion and five times, I get that too. Not to mention how hectic (chaotic) the holidays can be for everyone! I hope you've been able to come to a good place in all this, as we're just a few months away from the hectic holidays yet again. I don't have any words of advice...in fact, I am desperate for some for myself. Just wanted you to know that I hope the upcoming holidays will be better than the last.

SG*november*
12-29-16, 01:21 AM
I just read your post and thanks for sharing. I have definately been struggling this Christmas with my ADHD husband. He was just recently diagnosed and his symptoms are definately not being managed, in fact yesterday got his medication adjusted because hes so out of whack. I can relate to what your saying because I feel like I'm the only one accomplishing things sometimes. Unlike your wife though, my husband works tirelessly for days and days (without eating or sleeping at times), breaks one thing while trying to fix another, gets frustrated, fed up until finally the exhaustion catches up and he sleeps or stays in bed for days all while never really completing what he originally sets out to do. One thing I learned from some reading is that even though they may not be competing tasks they still need to be given the opportunity to try. My husband prides himself on his mechanical skills and often this is what his hyper focus is on. I try and just let him work things out and I try not to take on more responsibility then I am able to. We aren't super-human after all. Some times he crashes and burns but sometimes he completes something and he is proud and im happy for him. I have been working on praising and acknowledging his accomplishments because sometimes he only focuses on the struggle. I recently read an article that said to create a "completion book" so that they (or you) can record all the things they have competed. Even small things. I would really like to do this for my husband since he is so hard on himself and truth being, so am I at times.
Maybe by giving your wife a bit more responsibility and encouraging her (by using the competion book or other ways) it might give her the confidence to at least try. As for spending time together, I am also struggling with this but I recently got some advice about "scheduling" quality time. I feel very alone at times and especially this Christmas so I think I'm going to pose this to my husband also. I guess with the understanding that they may be late or forget (I have a calendar on my fridge that I plan on using to mark our "dates"on) but it's the end result that truly matters.
Sorry for a long post and I hope you find the quality time with your wife. Good luck!

sarahsweets
12-29-16, 07:19 AM
I just read your post and thanks for sharing. I have definately been struggling this Christmas with my ADHD husband. He was just recently diagnosed and his symptoms are definately not being managed, in fact yesterday got his medication adjusted because hes so out of whack. I can relate to what your saying because I feel like I'm the only one accomplishing things sometimes. Unlike your wife though, my husband works tirelessly for days and days (without eating or sleeping at times), breaks one thing while trying to fix another, gets frustrated, fed up until finally the exhaustion catches up and he sleeps or stays in bed for days all while never really completing what he originally sets out to do.

Has your husband ever been evaluated for bipolar? The not sleeping for days and intense focus goes a bit beyond adhd. Yes we get hyper-focused but IME not for days at a time with no sleep.. The crashing and staying in bed is also not as typical. What kind of meds is he on? What doses?

Fraser_0762
12-29-16, 07:32 AM
It's really sad that Christmas seems to be all about gifts, gifts, gifts now. I actually tell my family members not to bother getting me anything, as i'm not going to get them anything. It's so much stress over something so trivial. Christmas is for the corporations. They should rename it to Corporatmas, or something like that.