Balance between NOT patenting spouse, NOR neglecting others?

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  WarmMuddle 1 week, 4 days ago.

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  • #112446


    I’ve worked really hard the last couple years to stop parenting my husband, but it’s hard to see him neglect those around him! I’ve resolved that I need to do all the vet care with our dogs because I can’t stand them struggling, but what about other situations?

    I’m letting my husband fix our master bathroom on his own, but it’s been 3 years and we still don’t have a sink. I’ve also resolved to buy all my family gifts and call them on their birthdays, but his family goes without either.

    Have any of you found a good “rule-of-thumb” for when you step in?

    • This topic was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by  WarmMuddle.
  • #113205


    I try to have a rule of thumb, but it’s different for different situations. Like for his family, who live far away and who we don’t have a great relationship with, I let him handle all gift situations for grown ups (who generally end up getting nothing, and they’ve argued about it), but I send gifts to our niece on his side, because she’s a kid and I don’t want her to be affected. My husband can try to explain his forgetfulness to the adults, but I don’t want to not get a child a present!

    For house stuff, we’ve been in a constant battle to hire more jobs out. My husband always thinks he can do it, underestimates the time and money it’ll take, and also the fact that once the job is started, he doesn’t actually have much motivation to get it done!! I find it too frustrating. So if it’s something that NEEDS to get done, we hire someone.

    I really struggle with all the articles about not parenting a spouse, because often my husband isn’t doing his job as an adult, and there’s no “good” way to deal with that, or communicate that to someone else. But when they aren’t taking care of the people and things around them, it’s extra guilt and burden on me to have to worry about that stuff getting done AND not “parenting”. If someone refuses to do all their adult responsibilities, how does someone else either get it done or deal with living like they’re the only one who’s responsible!? Anyway, I feel your pain. Letting go of whatever I can has helped, but there’s still a lot that can’t realistically be let go of.

  • #113216


    I’m sure I won’t win friends and influence people with my response, but…it’s given in an attempt to help, not to be critical.

    I can only assume that people who marry someone with ADD/ADHD knew that person fairly well before marrying them. Consequently, unless that person is marrying the ADHD person with the idea that they can change them after the wedding, I have to assume they knew or should have known what they were getting into before the ceremony.

    Rather than complaining or punishing the ADHD person for behavior that they can’t help or that is a consequence of their ADHD, why not look for ways to help make that ADHD person more successful in getting tasks done?

    In every relationship, there is give and take, a balance that needs to be maintained. One spouse is good at things that the other spouse isn’t. And vice versa. Why should taking pets to the vet be one person’s job when the pets are owned and enjoyed by both parties? If one spouse can never remember birthdays or anniversaries, why should that spouses side of the family bear the brundt of that forgetfulness when the other spouse sees and recognizes that weakness? Why not accept that weakness with the knowledge that the ADHD spouse has strengths in other areas? Or, if the ADHD spouse wants to be better at remembering dates, why not look for ways to help make that happen?

    Rather than continuing to live without a bathroom sink, why not ask what roadblock the ADHD spouse came up against that made him stop? How about looking for ways to help him finish the project? Put on an old work shirt and jeans, grab a screwdriver and go ask him how you can help him be successful in completing the project.

    Marriage is about a partnership, about helping each other be and feel successful in their lives, finding out what issues are preventing that success and looking for solutions. This is especially important in an ADD/ADHD marriage because that person probably dealt with the same criticism and disapproval all of his life, and more than likely didn’t get married just to keep hearing it.

    Like I said, I’m trying to be respectful and respond with what I think is constructive advice, and I hope it’s taken in the same spirit.

  • #113218


    Leftie – it’s nice to know someone gets the struggle!

    amznwmn – I’m wondering what experience you’ve had with ADD. Since one of the main difficulties those with ADD experience is difficulty getting started on tasks (no matter how good they are at them) assigning tasks that a spouse with ADD is good at doesn’t change whether they finish tasks. If we assign tasks by who will get them done then us non-ADD spouses end up doing everything.

    What you say is exactly the problem – a spouse with under-treated ADD doesn’t do any giving.

    Also, you’re discounting factors that change a person’s ADD over the course of a marriage, including dating hyperfocus (which often ends with marriage), worsening of symptoms with aging, and secondary depression.

    But you seem to know your response would be controversial – maybe you know these things, but are just looking for an argument? It’s very curious.

  • #113225


    What experience do I have with ADD? Nothing more than living it for the past 60 years, and spending the last 20 years researching not only it’s affects on those who suffer from it, but also the scientific and biological causes resulting in the commonly known symptoms. How about you?

    And, no, I didn’t write my response with the sole intention of starting an argument, as you seem to imply. On the contrary, I specifically said what my intentions were in posting my response. That, however, seems to have been overlooked in favor of criticizing what I wrote. I’m sorry you chose to be defensive about what I said. As someone with ADD, I felt I had some insight to offer. Of course, it’s up to the reader to acknowledge and accept that insight.

  • #113227


    I’m sorry for your struggles and hope you’ve found optimal treatment.

  • #113338


    anznwmn – I’ll assume you had good intent, and your suggestions sound great and they were my approach to marriage in the beginning. I could handle things and help my husband, because I had the emotional energy and time. However, life happens to both partners, and one can’t always be the helper. We had two kids, one of whom has autism and ADHD, and the other had colic as a baby and was miserable for her first 18 months of life. I just no longer had the time, energy or mental health to help my husband on top of all that. My kids are truly dependant, and I have to take care of their needs and help them first. I often have nothing left to give after taking care of them and all the other life stuff.

    Your suggestion to just take care of all the gifts sounds reasonable, unless you know the sheer multitude of things I’ve taken on because my husband can’t do them. Child care, all disciplining of kids, staying on top of school stuff, extra curricular activities, getting autism services for our son, camps, meal planning, shopping and making all food, finances, future planning, all event and gift planning for our two kids and everyone in my family, vacations, yard work, house work, coordinating home repairs and managing contractors, etc., etc., etc. He can handle going to work, and that’s about it. So yes, adding “Remember all birthday for both sides and buy and send gifts” to my list is just not possible.

    Also, sometimes I need help!! When is it my turn to have someone do something for me, because I just can’t and I’m completely overwhelmed?

    Your reasoning that we knew these people before marrying them is kind of simplistic, because no one goes into marriage knowing all the challenges that are in store. I married my husband when life was a lot simpler. There was no way to know what kind of father he would be in advance. We talked about how we WANTED everything to be, and it sounded great, but the reality was quite different. We also faced life challenges we never thought we’d have. I also married him assuming that he would also care for and help ME – because that’s part of what he promised. So you could also argue that people with ADHD should know themselves better and not make commitments that they can’t actually keep. But life isn’t that simple. If I had known what my marriage would be like after kids, I wouldn’t have married him. But that was impossible for me to predict.

  • #113339


    Leftie, when you said, “He can handle going to work, and that’s about it.” That really summed it up! Same goes for my husband. I think one of the hardest parts of ADD is its interference with awareness, especially self-awareness. I don’t know about your husband, but while mine is aware that he does less now than he did, he’s totally unaware of the fact that doing so little is not only “not okay,” but actually UNHEALTHY.

    The only thing keeping me in my marriage at this point is the fact that he knows he doesn’t do as much as he used to and is motivated to feel as “energetic” as he used to so he’s just agreed to try some prescription-strength medicines. Here’s hoping it goes well for both our sakes!

  • #113341


    Good luck, WarmMuddle!! I hope he finds something that gives him more energy so he can give you and others more time and attention!

    I also think that this thread shows how difficult things can be for spouses, and why we feel guilty and like we can’t do anything right (even when we’re doing a LOT!!) We need compassion and empathy, too, because we’re not perfect, either. And when we try to get help, we get conflicting advice – like to help our partners, but not parent them. What’s the difference? How do I know where that line is? What if my husband doesn’t agree with where the line is? Even when I try to frame it as “helping”, it gets perceived as “nagging”, and I can’t control another person’s perception or willingness to accept help. It’s frustrating. I would never wish these struggles on anyone else, but it’s been nice talking to you about them, because I can tell you get it and aren’t judging. I don’t judge you for being frustrated and exhausted either – and I hope you get some relief soon!

  • #113395


    How right you are, Leftie! I wish you all the best on your journey and I hope I see you around these forums again!

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