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Couples With One ADHD Partner

Spouse says I use ADHD as an excuse.

How can I get the point across that I do NOT just choose to have a disorganized house. In fact the house is more organized than many of my friends who have ADHD and some who don’‘t.
There is so much tension that my spouse brings home from work at the family business. We have three children, now 14, 17 and 21 years.
I am primarily responsible for the meals, shopping, interpersonal coaching and all school related activities, and currently working part-time.
My spouse’s method of parenting is to yell first and apologize later, maybe. He has been getting a little more reasonable over the years, but his blaming and lack of affirmation have caused a great deal of tension for me.
I’m regularly jumping in between my spouse and our children to shield/redirect the anger and find a productive avenue for discussion.  I am so tired….. I’ve been getting talk therapy for YEARS. My spouse thinks the problems are caused by everyone else not living up to his expectations. I say he needs to adjust his expectations.  He thinks I just use ADHD to get out of doing things…. I feel like I use up my energy too quickly because I feel so stressed. That leads to avoiding those time consuming projects.
How do I get him to understand even though some of his behaviors are less than desirable, I still am supportive; and I just need the same in return.


Hi K….
Looks like you are dealing with a lot there.  It’s difficult enough dealing with the ADHD alone, but to add on top of that…  the behavior of your husband… it compounds the stress of your life.

If your husband would be willing to do some reading about ADHD…  he might better understand what you are dealing with (which also effects his own life, plus the family).

He sounds kind of like an abuser in regards to his yelling, blaming, lack of affirmation behavior.  It would help you to read:
‘Verbal Abuse: Survivors Speak Out on Relationship and Recovery’ by Patricia Evans
I have read a few of her books, this is the one I liked the most, it’s very helpful and affirming.  She also has a website with a lot of support and encouragement. 

Another good website with a lot of great ‘abuse’ info is: Dr Irene’s website:

From this type of reading you find what is acceptable and what is not acceptable for you.  Then you can draw a few Boundary lines!!
Read:  ‘Boundaries’ Dr Henry Cloud

Instead of being victimized, you can begin to let family know what your boundaries are…  what you are willing to accept from them and not. ie ‘If you are going to yell, then I must leave the scene, no longer will I be your whipping post!!’

Do the kids have chores? Or do you take full responsibility for all messes including theirs?
Work off of a notebook list of maybe 3-6 things, prioritize every day!  Let everyone know :
‘This is what I am working on today!’
When someone complains about this or that not being done…  is it something they can do? Can you delegate it to someone else?  How important is it and to who? Is there a deadline? If it’s on your responsibility list, what day do you wish to schedule it onto your daily to do list? Anyone hounding you about any certain thing…  you could flip thru your notebook to show them where you plan to schedule that in…  and who plans to help you.  These can be your boundary lines for your family, esp your yelling husband.  Surely he doesn’t expect you to have everything done perfectly everyday, does he?  If so, he needs to start learning about ADHD.

Working off of a list is helpful, something to refer back to if things get chaotic, something to check off and know what you have accomplished that day.  If no one else notices your successes, you will know and even have written proof… maybe even a note to self ‘Hooray!  Got ___   ____   ____ done today!

Don’t know if any of this helps, but these are some of the things that work around here!
God Bless you!

Posted by BS&Tears; on Dec 27, 2013 at 8:23am

You are probably both right a little bit and both wrong a little bit.

First thing I want to say is to adjust your expectations too.  You are right, he does need to adjust his to meet the reality of the situation.  But if he thinks you are using ADHD as an excuse, do you think he is lying?  Is he making it up that when he wishes something to have been done and your response has something including ADHD in it?  Which, if you are splitting hairs (also a bit of an ADHD symptom) with him you will be perpetuating the problem.  My husband used to say, “Just leave me a list and I’ll get it done” then I’d come home and it wouldn’t be done and his response would be something along the lines of, “That’s what ADHD looks like” - well, that is kind of an excuse.

If you wanted your husband to notice how nice you look and he said “Well, I wear glasses, what do you expect” as a reason why he didn’t notice, how frustrating would that be?  Bottom line is the underlying message of any excuse, valid, reasonable or otherwise is, “I’ve made up my mind, I’m not even going to try anymore”.  That is probably what he is hearing that makes him so upset.

So, your expectation that he should understand what is going on with you, should be able to interpret the state of things correctly is going to get you into trouble.  He can’t know how you managed your ADHD symptoms one day as opposed to another day.  He can’t know when you’ve had a hard time getting motivated or getting to that project that is on top of the dining table or whatever.  He can’t read your mind.  And guess what, he will never, ever, in a million years, be able to understand what it is like to have ADHD.  So stop expecting him to.  Can you understand his brain functioning?  Can you relate to his brain totally?  No, of course not because you have your brain. 

Once both my husband and I understood that, some peace feel over our house.  He started simply saying “I had a hard time getting motivated today” or “I was on fire today” and then he’d tell me proudly all he got done.  Much more honest than him having to put on this show of berating himself, feeling bad about not getting enough done, etc.  And by the way, both my husband and my daughter hear anxiety or impatience in my voice as “yelling”.  My volume can be totally reasonable but they will say “Stop yelling” which then makes ME feel accused of something.  I can only be so calm, I can’t be super human calm and reach inside of them and quell THEIR anxiety - so be sure you are not feeling anxious inside yourself but blaming it on him.  That will get you nowhere but in more unrest and conflict.  It is just as frustrating to be accused of yelling or “causing” someone else’s anxiety as it is for you to be “in trouble” for not meeting your husband’s expectations.

And he needs to learn more about ADHD certainly.  But he also needs to take a dose of reality and realize that no one, not even the ultra organized, can keep it all together!  No one.  That is a fantasy out of a magazine and the movies - if you had a housekeeper, a bookkeeper, a cook and a babysitter, maybe then yes, all things can be help together in a perfect facade. But even then, no one is perfect and peaceful inside - some days are just maw.  For everyone on the planet.  Why does he suppose he deserves perfection when no one else has it?

Reality can be not pretty, unclean and hard to take, but at least it is honest which feels alot better inside!

Posted by YellaRyan on Dec 28, 2013 at 1:10am

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