My Forum Comments
My son was diagnosed with both, autism first then ADHD. Is there some aspect you’re wondering about in particular?
For me, they seem very interwoven, so it’s hard to say what aspects come from ADHD or autism. I’d say overall, where I see what I think is autism at play is in rigidity (difficulty with change and transitions, love of routine) and social interactions (he would choose to play alone vs. with others most of the time, not very socially inclined, doesn’t have back and forth conversations.)
The ADHD manifests more in ability to concentrate on things that he finds boring, forgetfulness and emotional volatility. (Although that could also be related to autism).
I think they’re almost on the same spectrum though, so you might see a lot of overlap in the two.
Just because you’re a counsellor doesn’t mean that you don’t have your own issues to deal with. I’m basically in the same boat as your wife and I see a lot of parallels here.
For one thing, your post is a lot more focused on YOUR feelings about your behaviour than on how your wife and kids must feel. You even say that you’re resistant to hearing from your wife that you’re being “that guy”. But how can your behaviour ever change if you’re still somehow justifying it to yourself, or you’re not willing to hear some hard truths about how you’re making other people feel? Who is the victim here? I guarantee that your wife and kids are feeling just as terrible as you are, with the added stress of being helpless to change anything.
So the first step I would take is to sit down with your whole family and acknowledge the things that you’ve done and said that are cruel and inappropriate. Ask your kids how your behaviour has made them feel, listen and apologize. Let them know that how you’re behaving is wrong and give them permission to tell you when you’ve hurt their feelings. Make a commitment to all of them to change and give them permission to hold you accountable. Don’t use your shame as a weapon – your kids and wife aren’t responsible for your shame, and shouldn’t feel like somehow you’re the victim because you’re beating yourself up.
I think a lot of people use shame as a defence mechanism. Whenever my husband uses shame, it makes me feel like I have to back down, or that somehow his behaviour makes HIM feel worse than it makes ME feel. That’s just not true, and it’s a clever way for an aggressor to turn themselves into the victim.
So as hard as it may be, accept that you are the aggressor in this situation and you are doing damage. Punishing yourself with shame doesn’t help anything, and may actually contribute to you feeling like you’ve already paid the price for your behaviour and don’t have to make any amends to others.December 21, 2020 at 2:15 pm in reply to: Boyfriend with ADHD treated me amazing and suddenly changed #189603
It sounds like you had a pretty big obstacle in your relationship (you want kids, he doesn’t), so probably for the best that you move on. It sounds like he was being honest that he might not want more kids, and saw that you clearly do (which is fine!) and he realized that it would be an issue. It’s childish of him not to call, but really there’s not much he could say. You shouldn’t have to compromise about what you want, and he shouldn’t feel pressured to say that he “might” want kids or might change his mind. (And then what if he didn’t and you were married?)
I think it’s good you got out before things went on too long. Wanting/not wanting kids is too big a topic to not agree on. He’s likely avoiding the inevitable conversation about kids because it would be an argument. The fact that he introduced you to his son before a strong commitment would make me question his judgement, too. I hope you can give yourself closure and move on. Neither one of you needs to explain or justify your different views for the future, you just need to accept that they aren’t compatible and move on.
Do your parents know how hard you’re finding school? There might be some more supports or more specialized ways the teacher could approach your assignments or instruction time/style. I have a son in Grade 3 who is struggling much the way you are, and I really empathize with you. It must be very frustrating when the way things are being taught is not a good fit for your learning style. I hope you find some ways to keep up – an ADHD coach might also have some ideas.
For the apology letter – I can understand the desire to explain things to people, however I can also see how your letter could be interpreted as excusing unacceptable behaviour, and I would be very careful to make sure you’re taking responsibility for your behaviours and how they affect others. There’s a social contract (for example with the hugging you mentioned) that we don’t hug people who don’t want to be touched, and that we stop when someone asks us to stop. If you’re breaking that social contract, you need to take responsibility for your actions, instead of asking the other person to accept behaviour that they find unacceptable. If you don’t take responsibility and find a way to manage your behaviours, it could eventually get you in a lot more trouble than just losing friends. Also, an apology should be focused on letting the recipient know that you’re aware that what you did was wrong/uncomfortable, without making an excuse, and it should offer some amends. Otherwise, I fear your letter will come off as offensive as well.
I hope this doesn’t come off as harsh, but I’m a parent of an ADHD child and I would never want him to send people a letter that excuses his hurtful behaviour, or puts responsibility on the victim to change their reaction or learn his “trigger words”. It’s up to every person to manage their own behaviour, and accept the consequences when they’ve crossed someone else’s line. Every person has the right to be respected, and ADHD is not a free pass to disrespect other people’s boundaries.
The great thing is that you’re young enough to learn some new skills, learn what things other people find offensive or what breaks the social rules we’re all trying to live by, and figure out strategies to help you follow those rules. I would put my energy into that, as well as offering a genuine apology if you’ve crossed someone’s line. Remember that to them, it probably doesn’t matter WHY you crossed the line, but it will matter to them if you accept responsibility for how you made them feel, and offer to make amends. That shows you’re a caring person, which I’m sure you are!
I’m sorry for your recent loss, that’s a difficult thing to go through even with a supportive spouse.
I don’t have any great advice, but I’ve experienced everything you mentioned. I started going to a counsellor for myself, because I realized I was spending way too much time waiting for my husband to participate and take care of me, and I realized I had to commit to taking care of myself. It’s hard to accept that we have no control over our spouses, but since that’s the case, we have to take control of what we can.
I think at some point the kindest thing we can do is to accept that our spouses are not going to change, and make decisions from there. I’ve spent so much time (as I’m sure you have, too), trying to change my husband into a supportive partner, and it’s all wasted energy. I’m trying to find ways to support myself now. Covid makes that much harder, but are there ways you could give yourself more support and make your life easier? Hire out some tasks, reach out for emotional support, involve others in decision making? I think that would be a good step to see if you can create a better life for yourself. Then the next step is deciding if that life also includes your husband, once you’ve build more of a support network outside of him.
I think deciding if that level of emotional neglect is tolerable or not is very personal and painful. It’s hard to want someone to give more of themselves and be disappointed over and over. I realize now that my husband probably truly isn’t capable of giving more. I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I’m okay with that, too. Living in limbo like that is really hard, and you have my solidarity and empathy.
I think all we can do while we’re on the fence is build a good support network for ourselves and see if taking some of the pressure off ourselves makes the marriage more sustainable. The forums at ADHD Marriage are full of non-ADHD partners like us, trying to make similar decisions. You might find it helpful to read over there, too. Hugs.
Are the lies to avoid doing a specific task? Or to avoid a certain reaction from others?
I think the approach you take depends on how high-stakes the lies are and if they affect people other than the person who is lying. If the lies will have financial, emotional or health consequences for others, I don’t think that’s something anyone can or should tolerate. In that case, I would separate as much of that part of my life from the person who is lying.
My husband lies, and it’s generally to stay out of “trouble”. I’ve come to realize that it’s generally because he agreed to something he didn’t actually want to do. So he does what he actually wants to do and then lies to cover up his actions. It’s hurtful. Many times it’s about something minor. I guess knowing why he lies gives me some sympathy, but I haven’t found a way to get to compassion, to be honest. But I deal with it myself by putting up boundaries and checks where I know I can’t trust him. And I try to get actual agreement on things, so that he doesn’t feel he has to lie – first lying about agreeing to a plan, then lying to cover up that he didn’t follow through on the plan. It’s not ideal though, and if it’s your partner that’s lying, it’s very hard to feel like it’s an actual partnership. I’m sorry you’re in that situation.
It sounds like you already have a great routine for getting it done, maybe you’re putting too much pressure on yourself by trying to make it fun! I don’t know anyone, ADHD or non-ADHD who considers brushing fun.
If you do want to try to make it fun, maybe listen to music while brushing, use a light-up brush, or promise yourself some kind of reward for after you brush or plan a bigger reward for yourself for every month or year that you stick to your routine?
I recognize so much in what you’re saying, and I think a lot of other non-ADHD partners would, too.
My husband also tells me he loves me, makes promises to change, starts some efforts at change and claims to want to be in the relationship. But after 10 years of being together, he also still defends, deflects, gets angry, breaks promises (including to our kids) and hasn’t changed enough to make our life stable and emotionally safe.
The hardest part to accept is that we don’t have any control of whether or not the relationship gets better, and we trap ourselves with the “if he would just do THIS or stop doing THIS, things would be great!” So we stay and wait and hope. But we can’t actually do anything about it. And then what happens if year after year, the promises continue but your partner still hasn’t dealt with the problem for good? How many times can you handle being disappointed, nagging, monitoring, avoiding?
You have the advantage of knowing what you’re dealing with before you get married or have kids, if that’s something you want. You said it yourself that your relationship is making you sad. He might not have the ability to change, or be able to do it before he’s created too much resentment and broken promises. You can’t change him or nag him into being a good partner. Trust me, I’ve tried. My counsellor asked me this week why I’m still asking my husband to try to do things differently, when it’s clear that after years of me asking, he’s not going to do it. It’s a very valid question. It’s very hard to let go of the hope that things will be different. But when change is all up to another (unreliable) person, we’re giving them more control over our lives and well-being than we should. Ask yourself, if your boyfriend isn’t actually capable of changing, would you stay?
What is he doing to change it?
You say his behaviour makes you feel depressed, angry and resentful. That he promises to change, and then doesn’t. Don’t you deserve better, especially as such a young person with a whole life ahead of you?
My experience is very similar to yours, my husband has been diagnosed for 5 years and taking medication and nothing has changed. Except we have two kids, and now they’re also noticing his moods, anger and broken promises.
Only you can decide how much you can handle, but I don’t think any relationship should be that hard. Your partner should be your support and comfort, not the person who yells at you and makes you depressed. Life will get harder and you need someone stable by your side, not someone you have to coach on how to treat people. It’s exhausting trying to be someone’s conscience and remind them to treat you like a human being. You deserve better.
We struggle with this too with our 8 year old son. I’ve realized that he can’t really clean without having company to keep him on track and give him specific jobs. (Put the books away. Ok, now put the Legos in the bin.) If I told him to clean his room or even “Put the Lego away” and left, I can 100% guarantee I’ll come back to a mess. I hope it becomes automatic for him one day, but we’re not there yet.
If anything has too many steps to put away, he won’t do it (much like my husband, actually), so I had to get rid of storage bins with lids. Everything has a home, and is generally in a bin with no lid, so he can just throw it in. I try to make it one step if possible. Label everything (or put a picture on, if that’s easier for him).
We used to do a clean 30 mins before bed as a family, but I found I ended up managing everyone and it got frustrating for me because as soon as I walked away from someone, they stopped working. I’m trying to have him clean up when he’s done with something now, in the moment. But I do have to be there to keep him on track.
We haven’t tried it yet, but a counsellor suggested using a Pomodoro timer to keep tasks on track.September 12, 2020 at 4:50 pm in reply to: Marriage Heading into Separation before Diagnosed with ADHD #183498
I’m glad it didn’t come off the wrong way and I hope it helps! The fact that you’re open to hearing from non-ADHD spouses and can accept and apply feedback is really great. I think it’ll help you make some real changes for everyone’s benefit.
I’m sorry you’re in so much pain. You’re being very hard on yourself and it sounds like you could use some help! Have you thought about telling all of this to a professional who could give you an official diagnosis and perhaps suggest some resources for you, or medication, if that’s something you might want to try? It sounds like you’re self-medicating, so finding an effective medication might help with your ADHD, and the anxiety and depression you’re feeling as a result of your ADHD symptoms.
Having a diagnosis might also help you to get back on track with school – universities are often able to make accommodations for students who need extra help, like changing the way tests are administered, extending deadlines, etc. If you like what you were studying in Uni and were close to finishing your program, maybe talk to someone at your Uni about your struggles too, and see if they can help you make a plan to get back on track. There’s no shame in taking longer to complete your degree, you just need the right help and maybe some accommodations for exams.
I don’t have ADHD, but I know from experience with other struggles that our problems feel the biggest when we’re trying to hide them from everyone. Being open about what you’re going through is the first step to being able to get help and tackle your problems. You don’t have to do it alone!September 11, 2020 at 3:10 pm in reply to: Marriage Heading into Separation before Diagnosed with ADHD #183469
I’m a non-ADHD person with an ADHD spouse, so feel free to take my comments with a grain of salt. As someone whose spouse has also done and said very destructive things and has only been diagnosed with ADHD after the birth of our second child, I recognize some things in your post that might not go over well with your wife, if you’re truly interested in becoming a better father and husband. You say in your last paragraph that it’s more important for your wife to understand who you are and what ADHD is. I don’t deny that it’s important, but if you want things to work in your relationship, here’s what I would recommend.
1. Focus on managing your ADHD to minimize the effects on your wife and kids. No matter what your wife chooses to do, it’s in your best interest to develop systems that will help you regulate your emotions, manage your time, and contribute to your family. Also, from your wife’s perspective, she’s probably heard enough talk, and needs to SEE ACTIONS, to show her that you truly can show up for her and for your kids, and that you accept that as your own responsibility as a husband and father. Don’t make ADHD into another project for her, take it on and show her that you will manage it.
2. Try not to use ADHD as an explanation for your past issues. Both partners can easily fall into the trap of using ADHD to explain everything, and while it’s somewhat helpful to know the “why” of hurtful events or aspects of your personality, it doesn’t begin to address the EFFECTS of those behaviours or events. And that’s what your wife is looking at – what has happened to her as a result of your behaviours. Explaining ADHD to a hurt, angry spouse can too often feel like the ADHD partner is trying to justify behaviour that has caused pain and suffering. I put it this way to my spouse – if he hit me, and then found out he had a condition that caused him to do it, I would still be hurt and scared, and his behaviour still wasn’t acceptable. It’s the same with ADHD. Whatever the reason, your actions have caused pain. So instead of explaining, focus on making amends to her for all the hurt she’s experienced, and how much extra stress and responsibility she has likely had to take on. Start making her life less stressful however you can. Change your mindset to focus on understanding what SHE has been through and put the spotlight on her. Especially if she’s already told you that “everything in the relationship has been done on your time”. It’s time to focus on her.
3. Find supports to help you manage your ADHD. Show her that the diagnosis isn’t an excuse, but that it’s put you on the right track to get the right kinds of help. There are tons of ADHD resources and hacks to help with whatever issues are causing you the most trouble. Find a counsellor that knows about ADHD.
I hope this advice doesn’t come off as harsh, but I’ve been in your wife’s shoes and I know I needed to see real changes and responsibility, and to become the focus of the relationship for a while. Be kind to yourself in your diagnosis, but also be kind to your wife, and try to get a better understanding of the pain, stress and chaos she has likely gone through. ADHD can make folks blind to the needs of others and blind to how much the non-ADHD spouse has to take on to make life work. Show her compassion, take some of the responsibilities off her shoulders, and devote yourself to being a support for her. Get help to make it happen. Create a vision of the kind of husband and father you want to be, and keep taking steps that bring you closer to your goal. I wish you luck!!
I nearly cried when I read your post and your comment under it, because I’m stuck in a very similar dynamic and feel so ashamed, discouraged and disappointed in the weird reality I find myself in. I’m sorry you’re in the same boat of feeling like you have to parent your spouse and teach him how to parent your kids, but it was also a huge relief to me to discover that I’m not the only one!
I’ve been asking my H to take a parenting course for years at this point, and like you, I’m the one who has to handle any parenting around rules, routines, being consistent, enforcing consequences, handling tantrums and anything remotely emotional or difficult. It’s exhausting. I feel like my H sets the kids up to fail by being inconsistent, not following routines and breaking rules, but then he gets angry and punishes them. I’m solo parenting most of the time, because when I try to leave it to him, my kids will be screaming/crying within minutes. I’ve told him I think his parenting is bordering on emotionally abusive at this point, and we’ve talked SO many times about what he needs to do (be consistent, stay calm, no surprises, don’t change rules), but he just doesn’t do it. I think he parents according to his mood, which is super destructive and no one knows what to expect or when he’s going to ignore behaviour or freak out and punish it. I think it’s very similar to living with an alcoholic, to be honest.
I’ve reached the point where I don’t want to be with him, but the thought of him having the kids unsupervised if we got a divorce is terrifying. I hate how he parents, and he says he hates it too, but doesn’t do anything about it. I’m so exhausted, resentful and angry that this is how our relationship is and what he’s like as a father, and mad at myself for giving my kids such a chaotic, unstable home life. I wish my husband would get it together and parent the way our kids deserve, and it’s very hard to accept that I have no control over that. We’re currently fighting because he still hasn’t found time to take an online parenting course, but somehow found time to take up bread making, starting a sourdough and looking for a new mountain bike (he currently never bikes). When I pointed that out to him, he got mad at me. It really makes me feel crazy sometimes.
I’m so sorry you’re also the primary parent and having to “coach” your husband at parenting. Sometimes I think having an outside person like a counsellor hear all the things my H actually does when parenting might be the only way to shame him into parenting better. He doesn’t seem to be affected by seeing our son cry and scream (which he never does when I’m parenting), and often gets mad at me when I step in, even though what he’s doing is clearly not working.
Many hugs to you, and I hope you find something that gets through to your husband. I feel like people like us should get help, or be allowed to have another live-in adult to make life manageable!
There is some really dangerous advice on here. No one should feel like they have to “chase” or create “fun” for someone who isn’t putting in equivalent effort, love or fun. Whether the ADHD person is still interested or not, going 3 weeks with no communication, being on dating sites when polyamory was not previously agreed on, and then dropping a message like nothing happened is not an okay way to treat someone.
Original poster, it’s okay to want and need more from someone, and regardless of whether they are still interested or not, you need more than he’s able to give you. Don’t settle for less or twist yourself into knots to be “fun”. Life is not all fun and games – a lot of it is work, dedication, boring but necessary tasks, and living up to promises.
The idea that a woman needs to make herself fun and perpetually available to an inconsiderate partner makes me really upset. No one would ever tell a man to do that while a woman went off signing up for dating sites and not communicating for weeks at a time. It’s inconsiderate at best, and at worst, emotionally abusive.