Reply To: Expressing frustrations constructively

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This doesn’t help express a frustration more constructively, but it helps to avoid some.

One of the practical things we did around here was to set exactly “when” later is.

“What day and time will you be calling the doctor so the appointment is made?”
“Oh, I’ve got a Google Calendar reminder to do that on May 13th at 2pm.”

I then follow up by asking about it that night at supper.
This completely avoids the “oh, I’ll do it later” and “later” never comes thing in our house.

Adding reminders to an online family calendar has helped the setting of appointments not be forgotten, nor the appointments themselves. Google Calendar is free. And it’s helped me keep track of stuff for work, events I need to send out cards for, and all the random stuff. So it’s not just helping him, but it helps me too.

Another practical thing is we sit down together to plan meals.
We don’t do anything complicated. Macaroni and cheese with fish sticks and green beans. Spaghetti and meatballs in the crockpot, with noodles boiled beforehand and a salad tossed together. Carnitas served with things like pre-sliced onions and tomatoes and avocado. Frozen pizza if we must. At our house even sandwiches and carrot sticks are supper.

Maybe it’s time to do more crock-pot meals together? They’re hard to burn, especially if your slow cooker is a fancy one that has the “start cooking at X time, then keep warm until Y time” feature. You can also set a calendar reminder there too, to get that crock out of the fridge, placed in the cooker part, and started.

Routines are key for us. I believe healthy families have routines, so it’s been important to me to establish them. Even if they end up topsy-turvy some days. 🙂

We have a literal checklist for the things my spouse says he wants to do in the morning. It looks a little like this:
1. Feed cats
2. Clean cat bowls
3. Change cats’ water
4. Unload dishwasher
5. Shower
…and there are daily check mark areas next to them, so he can check them off daily. So it’s essentially a spreadsheet we printed out, put on the fridge in a plastic page protector sleeve, and he writes on it with erasable marker.

Of course, that didn’t mean that he didn’t leave his towel on the bed after his shower…but the cats were fed, the bowls were clean, the water was changed out, and the dishwasher was unloaded. Also he obviously took a shower if the towel was lying on our bed, because it wasn’t there last night! LOL

You may need to schedule the counseling yourself, unfortunately. One of my personal rules is “if it’s something that important, have your own plan B for it”.

But at least you have a wife that wants to discuss things! She’s open to communication is what that tells me. The fact it doesn’t stick isn’t totally her fault. With my husband, we had more productive communication sessions when I had his full attention, when I tried to talk to him before the Concerta’s end-of-day spurt petered out, and when we were both relaxed.

Conflicts are inevitable. Feeling bad about them doesn’t have to be. My husband will forget something, like to pick up his Concerta from the pharmacy, and we deal the best we can. His coping skills are not fully there yet either; neither are mine. He ends up with a lot of shame and depression because he wants to be “better”, which honestly should short circuit some of my frustration but sometimes I end up raising my voice and being a little irrational too. I’m working on that, and it’s a journey, for sure. When he feels shamed and accuses me of not feeling he’s as capable as I am, I know I have to wait to talk to him until the situation has calmed down. I tell him how proud I am of him for doing what he does do consistently (whatever that’s been lately), and ask what he thinks might help with an issue I need his help on lately–for example, “I need your help to figure out two things we can do to make sure the dirty water bowl ends up in the kitchen so it can be washed. We’ll both do them, and we’ll keep the one that works. What do you think we could do?” (I use “could” instead of “should” because “should” seems to trigger value judgments about the “right” and therefore “normal” things to do; “could” introduces possibility, even if the suggestion seems “silly” or “weird” to my spouse when he says it. We have come up with some GREAT ideas this way–adding reminders to the Google Calendar came up this way!)

Until my spouse understood that having reminders didn’t make him “dependent” on the calendar in a bad way, and until he saw medication as something other than “a crutch” but “something that makes a difference and helps (him) to do things (he) wants to do” it was a lot harder. I’ve always wanted to try the Epic Win app which makes chores seem like a cool quest where you level up after earning enough points–it’s a gamified to-do list with a good rating among my friends with ADHD–but so far we do okay with the calendar reminders which pop up on his phone and making sure at least the medication routine stays the same.