Reply To: How to tell wife what I have discovered

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Quote: “She has also given up a lot, she doesn’t make time for friends, she doesn’t look after herself, she doesn’t do much for her own happiness. She needs to take responsibility of that part.”

Please understand what a tremendous load she has carried, to be pregnant and be up at night, to
feed and care for all the hundreds of needs that many small children have, all as she cleaned and cooked and dealt with all the stresses that fell to her when you could not finish projects to follow through on something she needed you to do.

You cannot imagine the bone weariness that some women have while pregnant and with a small baby. And then to do that year after year. You cannot imagine it unless maybe you have a physical condition that has similar effects. It takes a lot out of women.

Now, if you have been, as you admit, not reliable to finish things, meaning she either has to live with the stress of it going undone, or she has to finish it for you, which is also stressful, on top of being tired and rearing children and all the other things women do to run a household, please give her the benefit of the doubt in seeing that finding the energy to do things for herself might be impossible.

Can you imagine if she walked out the door today and you had to be solely responsible for all she did? No one to rely on? When exactly would you find the time for yourself? Please recognize that she felt wedged between her normal tasks and picking up yours.

When she says she’s hollow, BELIEVE HER. When she says she needs space, BELIEVE HER. Give it to her. And in that space, work on the areas that mean the most to her.

I agree with her – let her rest while you go to therapy. You work on you. She needs to recover from trying to catch all the balls when you dropped yours.

This is only good for thought and certainly not emphatic advice: maybe tell her that after 6 months of you going to therapy alone, maybe then she could read the book. And maybe ask her what are her top two things she needs you to work on during those months.

Does she have things to right? I’m sure she does. But she can’t even begin to do that until she starts to heal a bit. And please recognize that she really has carried more than you have. You might be a really great father (I don’t know as I don’t live with you), but even great fathers can leave a lot to the mother and never even realize it.

I do not think she’s right to insult you. Can you look beyond that to the person she was before? Has she always insulted you? Or is this after years of feeling hollow and trying to get you to see? If so, then she’s speaking out of a deep exhaustion that says she’s poured out all of herself and you’ll never hear. This might be desperation. This might be a voice that tells her she has to save herself because she’s being wrung out like a rag. Is it true? She might feel so. And that’s what you’re fighting. How can you restore the feeling that you’re a team? It first has to start with some healing.

She needs to breathe and grieve. You need to breathe and grieve. Right now, you’re likely hyperfocusing on her because you feel desperate to save it. If you keep putting her under the lens (instead of putting your symptoms under the lens), then she’s going to recoil further. Listen to her. I’m going to say it again: listen to her.

One thing I would say with emphatic tones: tell her that you DO believe her. Tell her that you are listening without saying “yes but,” and that you will work to give her the space she needs.

Because in the end, if you can’t hear her and understand that the fallout of unaddressed adhd symptoms has affected her so very deeply, then you’ll not only hurt this relationship further, but you’ll continue hurting every woman you’re ever with in the future.

Right now, her exhaustion is affecting you, right? Then your adhd affects her. We all affect each other. There’s no escaping it.

I agree with you – she needs to read the book. She needs to be able to have empathy for you and your struggles. But you’re gonna have to be the one who starts that path. You’re gonna have to show her that this isn’t just a more robust version of the two-week stints she’s seen before. She needs to see YOUR EMPATHY and your effort first. That is where she is.

So meet her there.