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Archive for October, 2011

“When you are in an ADD marriage (especially with a spouse who hasn’t been diagnosed) everything spins out of control. You try to wrap your arms around it all, to regain control, but it’s futile. No matter how strong you started out, you feel weaker from the journey.”

On several occasions, I have corresponded and met with the author of one of the books on ADD that I have used as a resource on this latest leg of my life journey. One of the comments she says regularly is that I should not diagnose my husband. So I will say now, that I can not say with certainty that ADD is an issue with which my husband struggles, and while I am highly suspicious that it is a contributing factor – in addition to a few other mental illness issues he may have going on . . . I will not diagnose.

Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee nation once commented on how the cow runs away from the storm while the buffalo charges directly toward it and gets through the storm quicker; be the buffalo.

As recommended, I have educated myself on ADD and felt it was now time to “be the buffalo”. (discuss the possibility of ADD with my husband, without diagnosing)

It was a short discussion. He wanted to hear nothing about it. Refused to even consider it. Was I surprised? Not really. Was I hopeful for a different response? Always.

“To ignore the need to get ADD evaluated and treated is an act of irresponsibility. Not treating it can leave a path of destruction too wide for a non-ADD spouse to avoid.

“If you don’t make the leap of faith and assume that ADD is a factor, then the statistics suggest that your marriage, more likely than not, will become dysfunctional, and very possibly, will end in divorce. Wouldn’t it be worth it just to see what might happen and possibly improve with treatment?”

I cling to the promise that God will open eyes, ears and hearts when He choses to. And that He will restore the years the locusts have eaten.

(Excerpts taken from ADHD Effect on Marriage by Melissa Orlov and Is It You, Me Or ADD by Gina Pera)

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It was a typical Wednesday evening, My husband had rushed out the door to Bible study. I usually stayed home since someone needed to make dinner for our five (always) hungry kids and make sure homework was done and that they got to bed at a decent hour. As I stood in the kitchen trying to decide what to cook for dinner, opening cupboards, freezer and fridge, I eventually threw my hands in the air in surrender and said, ” Grab your jackets, everybody, we’re going out to eat!”

On the drive to a neighborhood diner, the kid’s conversation turned to “Dad”. The question they usually asked me was inevitably asked again. ” Why does he act that way?” We were all familiar with the behavior that made him so difficult to be around. In the past, I would listen and often commiserate with the stories of their most recent frustrating interactions with “Dad”, but I never had an answer to that often asked question. Until tonight.

Tonight, I shared my suspicions that ADD might be contributing to his bad behavior. And that evening, during dinner, I realized just how damaging his behavior has been, not just to me and my marriage, but to the children and our whole family. It broke my heart to see their tears and listen as they told me how they’ve been hurt by his lack of verbal filters. How they’ve suffered from not being seen or heard – but often blamed and criticized. His detachment from them and their lives has resulted in their belief that they were not important to him. How well I related to their pain upon the realization that we were not asking for something he could not give us, but that he was choosing to give the best of himself to others . . .

The lack of attention one with ADD displays to their family is often interpreted as a lack of interest, rather than a symptom of ADD, which is distraction. One of the most common dreams for the family of one with ADD is to be cherished and receive the attention from one’s spouse/parent that this implies.”

“A non-ADD spouse will begin to doubt the reliability of the ADD spouse. She will pull the kids closer to her to protect them from the interruptions and disappointments created by her spouse’s symptoms. Life becomes a noticeable ‘us vs him’.”

“Mothers who remain in emotionally abusive relationships teach their children, every single day, that the natural role of women is to be hurt and demeaned by men and that the natural role of men is to treat women badly.”

Something needs to change . . . This is no longer just about me anymore.

(excerpts taken from “Is is You, Me or ADD?” by Gina Pera and “The ADHD Effect on Marriage” by Melissa Orlov)

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“Whenever I speak on the subject of forgiveness, invariably, someone will say, ‘I’ve never been able to forgive myself for what I’ve done.’ Interestingly, the Bible never speaks of the need to forgive yourself. What these women are really saying is that they have never been able to feel forgiven for what they’ve done. They are still carrying a sense of guilt and shame over their failure. Though they know God can forgive them, they find it difficult to accept God’s mercy.”
(DeMoss – Lies Women Believe)

Lie: God won’t forgive what I’ve done.

In my case, I feel like I am confronted with the consequences of my sins / mistakes / choices on a daily basis. And it is that, which leads to thoughts of self-condemnation . . . “If I didn’t ________, then my life would be different and maybe I’d be in a better place . . . “

For others, they choose to believe the lie that they have no need for forgiveness. They’ve done nothing wrong . . . Or at least, nothing as bad as their “neighbor”. I’ve been there, too. Having a Pharisee mentality when I hear of someone’s struggles and think, “I may have problems, but I’m sure glad I don’t have their problems.”

And then there’s the ones who can’t / won’t forgive. Those people who can never remember their own mistakes but keep the mistakes of others fresh in their memory. Victims who seem to always be licking the wounds inflicted on them by others. I’ve known one or two of them in my life and could quite possibly even be accused of being one myself.

Forgiveness is:

A process
Admitting that we hurt/hate
Not saying it didn’t happen or didn’t hurt
Realizing that we have a choice to release
Not something we can do with our own power
(taken from my pastor’s Sunday morning sermon)

What was it about Jesus that enabled Him to be big enough to take the blame for our sins? – to own sins that were not even His to own? The sins of the past, the present and the future. The sins of the victim and the perpetrator? . . . simply put, it was love.

Because of so many of our human flaws, we fail to see ourselves as the Father does. We doubt our worth to Him. We hang on to self-imposed guilt and shame, while the fear of that guilt and shame causes others to be resistant to owning their wrongs. But the Truth is as sweet as water to the thirsty. The Truth sets those captive of self-condemnation free. This is the Truth:

“If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves, and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. I John 1:8-9

God is good. He loves me, has forgiven me, and will never leave or forsake me. My “feelings” are always changing but the Truth never changes.

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I have been living, unknowingly, in a world I never knew existed. A world where nothing has made sense and I never knew why. Where well-meaning advice to “let my husband re-assume the family’s leadership” left me stunned and dejected, further convincing me to believe our problems to be my fault. Where I have been angry. So angry. And while I didn’t want to live with this constant feeling, I also didn’t want to continue pretending it wasn’t there.

I now have a new awareness. An awareness that has caused ADD to no longer be associated in my mind with hyperactive, unruly children. An awareness that tells me perhaps it has been a factor in the unexplainable behavior of my husband. Does it help to know that ADD might account for his behavior? No, the damage is too deep. Lacking this knowledge though, I felt like I was losing my mind.

As I learn about the symptoms of ADD, I breathe deeply, realizing how many of them I see in my husband:

  • Impulsivity – trouble delaying gratification, doesn’t think before acting or speaking, failure to consider consequences
  • Hyperactivity running unnecessary errands, feels overwhelmed easily, restless, has difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly, is often “on the go”, rushes through or has difficulty completing tasks
  • Insatiability – tough to please, seldom satisfied
  • Rigidity – uncooperative, either/or patterns, low capacity for or expression of empathy
  • Poor coping techniques (defense mechanisms) – avoidance, rationalizing, blaming, controlling, aggression

Issues with confrontation include:

  • Arguing about little things
  • Skipping through topics
  • Defensive and blaming
  • Poor short-term memory

Issues with conversation include:

  • Conversations that go everywhere
  • Monologues
  • A love of arguing or inability to argue
  • Poor memory of argument or incident
  • Difficulty understanding non verbal expressions
  • Difficulty understanding sarcasm
  • Difficulty understanding abstract thinking

Behavioral Issues:

  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty coping with stress
  • Often loses things
  • Depressed or anxious
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trouble focusing/concentrating
  • Disorganized
  • Lack of follow through
  • Makes piles of “stuff” around the house
  • Usually late
  • Overestimates time
  • Easily distracted
  • Poor money management
  • Hyper focus on certain things
  • Forgetful
  • Addictive tendencies
  • Hypersensitive to criticism
  • Unstable relationships

“I’m not asking for a perfect husband, but I feel like I’ve given so much and tried so hard and it hasn’t made any difference at all. This relationship has taken so much out of me and the return just doesn’t seem worth it some days.” – Joann

“If things don’t change, marriage for the non-ADD spouse will continue to be painful and eventually become untenable. She feels she has no choice but to become either more aggressive in expressing her needs or to disconnect completely.”

Psalms 31:7b You have seen my troubles and You care about the anguish of my soul.

(Excerpts taken from “Is It You Me or ADD” by Gina Pera and “The ADD Effect On Marriage” by Melissa Orlov)

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The house was quiet, clean and I still had another hour before it was time to pick up the kids from school. I sat myself in front of the computer to browse Amazon for an author whose words would help me heal and gain insight. With each click of the mouse, the website would suggest more authors and titles for me to peruse. Beth Moore, click, Rob Bell, click, T.D. Jakes, click. After a few more clicks, my attention was captured and I found myself unable to turn my eyes away – like one who is passing a tragic accident on the road . . .

” . . . We’ve had many blowouts about his behavior. I thought I had unreasonable expectations, perhaps I was too needy . . . I have years of pent up frustration over his behavior. He can be amazingly inconsiderate . . . But yet, if I express that frustration, I am accused of disrespecting him. If he has let me down by another broken promise or more bad behavior, he says I am over reacting and looking for a reason to start a fight . . . ”       Lynn

” . . . I dream of a home with stability, a spouse who exercises mature decision making skills and takes responsibility for his own actions . . . Where calmness resides and there is some sort of structure . . . Where I am not blamed for things because now there is a man in the household who will be responsible for his own behavior instead of turning it around on me or the kids . . .” – Sheila

” . . . It wasn’t that I didn’t want there to be genuine warmth and affection in our relationship, but because I was angry there was no room even for respect . . . “ – Amber

” . . . The chronic communication issues have left me feeling hopeless. My husband has decided that I had problems long before he ever met me . . . “ Kimberly

” . . . Because of my husband’s irresponsibility, I am often stuck with so much responsibility . . . It’s always something and I am so sick and tired of the excuses whether they’re valid or not . . . I’ve pretty much become numb to his endless tales of woe . . . I have lost nearly all respect for him . . . I resent what he has put me through . . . “ – Lauren

. . . Over the years, we have gone to marriage counseling with no change. I am extremely hurt by it all and I still feel very alone. He will not change. He can not change. In his never ending – last minute emergency – drop everything – never available for me life, I can hardly catch his attention unless, I too, am in crisis mode. I am tired of repeatedly having my hopes dashed. To sum it up, if it all depends on me, then I guess I am not a big enough person to do it. I can do a lot, but I can’t do everything, and at this point, I feel like doing nothing . . . ” – Ann

What did these stories have in common? Stories that could have been my own. These women were all married to men with ADD.

(Excerpts taken from “Is It You Me or ADD” by Gina Pera and “The ADD Effect On Marriage” by Melissa Orlov)

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