Expressing frustrations constructively

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  • #114040


    Hi there. First post here. Here is the question/issue I’m looking for input on. How do you express or deal with frustrations in/with your spouse and their ADHD behaviors in a constructive way?

    A little background: I’m a non-ADHD husband married to an ADHD wife for a little over seven years. We’ve been together for around 10. Have three kiddos, oldest is 7 and shares her mother’s ADHD diagnosis. I’ve got my own challenges, working with depression. Overall, I’d say our relationship is strong. We don’t really argue much. We try to give each other what they need (although, in some ways we are polar opposites, so sometimes fulfilling one of our partner’s needs really depletes our own reserves.) I work outside to support the family. She stays home to care for the kids and manage the family, although she recently started taking on some odd jobs to help with finances. I’d overall say that she is VERY high functioning despite her ADHD diagnoses. Still, there are times where she struggles, and as her job is managing the family, those struggles obviously affect others in the family. I try really hard to simply accept as much of the ADHD behavior as I can when it just affects her or I, but when it starts to affect the kids, I find myself getting really upset.

    A recent example: Oldest daughter has been struggling with some behavior and school issues. We suspect she has her mom’s ADHD and have her evaluated. Sure enough, her eval shows she has significant ADHD issues that pretty much mirror her mom’s. She needs follow up support, including getting with a counselor. Mom, as the family manager, says she’ll take care of it. Weeks go by. Kid continues to struggle. We talk repeatedly about getting her into a counselor. No appointments are made. Mom messages me asking if I have any ideas with how to deal with daughter’s bad behavioral issues when she gets home from school (I’m at work.) Them mom gets upset when I ask her if she’s set up an appointment for the kid or has even started looking for a counselor. She again says she hasn’t but will. A few more days go by and I ask again if there’s been any progress. She says she needs me to remind her. I’m sitting here going, “we’ve talked about this at least a dozen times over the past month. I’ve specifically reminded you at least three times. At this point, what more can I do except do it myself?” But I can’t say that, because if I do, she gets REALLY upset and claims I’m “attacking her,” that I think I’m more capable than her, and that I don’t trust her.

    Less impactful but more frequent example. I get home from work. The kids are watching videos on the tablet. Mom’s working on three of the 1000 projects she’s started simultaneously (900 of which will never get finished). Not only have kids not eaten dinner, but there isn’t even a plan for dinner. Kids have bedtime in an hour, and they haven’t even started their homework. The sink is overflowing with dishes, the dishwasher is full, and there are dishes sitting on the counter that have been ‘drying’ for the last three days. I see all this, start making dinner, get on the kids to start their homework, and start plugging away at the dishes. But yeah, I’m frustrated. I’m doing her job as well as mine, now. I fully realize that this is not some moral failing on her part, but that her ADHD won the day (as my depression sometimes wins my day.) Still, if she senses that I’m at all frustrated, she wants to talk it out right then and there. Despite the fact that we’ve had this exact same conversation 100 times before with no resolution. She seems to think we need to talk it through every time until we come to a ‘solution.’

    I love my wife, and have come to accept that there are times when her ADHD is going to get the better of her. I truly do. That doesn’t mean that when it does, I’m never going to get frustrated. Usually during these conversations/arguments, she says something along the lines of “if it’s frustrating for you, imagine how it feels for me!” I totally get that. Having depression, I know how frustrating it is to not be in control of your internal thought processes. But, just because her ADHD is frustrating for HER doesn’t mean it isn’t frustrating for me, too. I mean, she’s struggled with her ADHD for her whole 30+ years on this planet, still gets frustrated with it, and hasn’t been able to come up with workable solutions. Yet, she seems to think that I should never get frustrated with her ADHD or, if I do, that we’re going to come up with some magical solution in the moment when her ADHD is running wild, and I’m tired/frustrated, and sometimes dealing with depression issues, too.

    I’m really feeling cornered and would appreciate any insight for strategies to positively deal with the frustrations caused by your partner’s ADHD? I’ve tried direct talks separating the behavior from the person, but she still feels like I’m judging her. I’ve tried to simply swallow/hide the frustration, but of course that just leads to it building up until there is a blow out.

  • #114411


    Hi! I can relate to your struggle, and I recently posted my frustration with my husband’s lack of follow through on the things he’s supposed to/agreed to do. I didn’t get too many responses, so I think there are a lot of us who are struggling and just don’t have good solutions.

    The thing I find the most annoying is the fact that my husband gets upset at me (much like your wife) if I bring up something he promised to do and didn’t do. To me, that’s the part that’s the hardest to understand – the lack of apology, and the fact not only does HE get to be mad at ME, but the promised task still doesn’t get done, and I feel like my feelings go unheard and unaddressed. I don’t know the solution to this dilemma, so I don’t have much advice. We can’t force our partners to follow through, and that’s hard to live with. I think any human being would be frustrated when promises get broken and commitments aren’t honoured.

    All I can say is that if something is truly important and/or time sensitive and affects the kids, I know I have to do it. Our son has ADHD and is on the autism spectrum, and I handle all his appointments, specialists, communication with the school, etc. Any piece of it that I try to give to my husband doesn’t get done, so I’ve accepted that as unfair as it feels, I have to do the crucial stuff.

    That being said, it’s overwhelming being responsible for a disproportionate amount of life “stuff”. Could you and your wife make a list of things that need to be done, and agree on who will do what? And you take on some of the things that are affecting your daughter? I’ve found that a lot of contacts and appointments can be done via email, so it doesn’t have to be done during 9-5 business hours. It might just be a reality that you need to take the really time sensitive things on, in the evenings or when you have a break at work.

    I also realized that having a total division of labour (me at home with the kids and him at work) wasn’t stable enough or realistic with ADHD in the picture. My husband kept losing his job, or hyper focusing on freelance where he wasn’t getting paid, etc., and it was just too much instability. So I’ve gone back to work part time. Are there ways you could restructure your arrangement so your wife could work a bit more and you could work a bit less outside the home, and take on some of the childcare/household duties? My husband is also terrible with keeping the kids to a routine, homework, bedtime, discipline, etc. So I found a job where I can still do the morning and after school kid routine, and work while they’re at school. I’m also responsible for the bedtime routine and most kid discipline, because my husband struggles with being consistent, noticing the time, transitioning from an activity etc. I don’t love taking on all this stuff, but if I don’t, it doesn’t get done, and I’m not prepared for my kids to pay the price. I do feel frustrated and resentful that he can’t do it, though. I’m pursuing counselling for that.

    Anyway, I’m sorry you’re in this position, and I get it. I think no matter how constructive you are with communicating your frustration, it’s typical ADHD behavior to deflect and deny, and to continue not to follow through. So you might need a written agreement of what gets done by whom, and a support system to deal with your frustration when the plan doesn’t get followed. Good luck!!!

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