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Archive for the ‘ADD’ Category

On this journey, there is nothing quite like meeting someone on the road whose experiences have resembled my own. Whether we cross paths in person, through a computer or a book, the result is the same when their words resonate with my own feelings.

The affirmation that I am not alone in my situation, that my story is understood by another and to be able to relate to someone else’s story, is like balm to my hurting and confused soul.

The following statements came from a couple as they shared how their marriage has been (and continues to be) affected by ADD.

He Said:

“I felt that no matter how hard I tried I could never do well enough for my spouse, even when I was successful elsewhere, such as at work. It didn’t matter – I still felt like a failure at home.”

“I often responded with anger and defensiveness, when it was shame that I was really feeling.”

“I had to anticipate my wife’s response to every single thing I did. I lived my life trying to second guess her because I really did want to please her, but most of the time she was still mad.”

“I sometimes felt that the easiest way to deal with my spouse was to simply leave her alone.”

“Our marital issues left me feeling unloved.”

“Even if my ADD made me see or remember something ‘not right’, it still was my reality, and that was not respected.”

“I learned to lie to cover for mistakes. I learned to deflect criticism, to shift the blame to anything or anyone other than myself to protect my ego. I avoided being decisive, because in deferring the decisions to someone else, I could also defer the blame.”

“I have trouble planning ahead. I am notoriously late because I easily lose track of time and I’m often terrible at judging how long it will take to complete a task. I know this bothers my wife, but I don’t understand why it bothers her so much.”

“I felt the only reason my wife was insisting on treatment was so she could change me. I didn’t realize that what she wanted was the real me – without so much of the ADD baggage.”

“I don’t understand why we still have problems, even though I am now receiving treatment for my ADD . . “

“I don’t believe all of our problems are my fault . . . or the result of my ADD.”

She Said:

“There has been so much inconsistency living with my husband. I have usually been the one left to “clean up” from what was forgotten or not finished by my spouse.”

“I get so frustrated that my husband never seems to follow through on what he has agreed to do. He focuses intently on things that interest him, but never on me. I feel lonely and ignored in our relationship.”

“I am scared for myself . . .that my life will continue along it’s current path. I think about leaving my husband because the current path feels unsustainable.”

“The effects that my husband’s behavior have had on our marriage and family are much more than can be imagined.”

“At times, I become overwhelmed by sadness. And I mourn for the relationship I could have with my spouse, if not for ADD.”

“Life often seems depressingly up and down and out of control. I can not believe how many years we have dealt with the same issues over and over again.”

“I don’t understand my husband’s anger, stonewalling and defensiveness. If he is not responding angrily towards me or the kids, then he is ignoring us. I am constantly seeking any scraps of attention, respect, help and support I can get from him”

“He can be convinced that he is upset because of something I have just said, but he doesn’t recall that he was upset long before.”

“Understanding my husband’s quite different reality can be so challenging. I am exhausted and depleted. No amount of effort seems to fix the relationship.”

“I want to be able to love my husband unreservedly, without having to make as many of the horrific trade offs in my own life that responding to his symptoms has required.”

“He doesn’t see that deciding to get treatment is not the same as pursuing effective treatment that gives both of us relief from his
symptoms.”


“By the time we finally find solutions for our issues, I feel my life will be shredded beyond recognition – I have already been scarred forever.”

They Said:

Our marriage has been a progression from happy to confused to angry to hopeless.

There is more sadness than hope in their story, but it was good for me to hear the husband’s perspective. You see, although ADD is a topic I now know much about, this is probably the closest I will ever come to knowing what life is like for my own husband . . .

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Spending time with an adult ADD “expert” gave me more insight to my husband’s behavior than weeks spent reading books on marriage & ADD, months on the couch of my therapist, and years of unproductive conversations with my husband. Here is the advice she gave me over lunch:

ANGER

“Even though you may feel justified in being angry at your husband for the suffering he has caused you, the inevitable result is that both of you are hurt deeply and your indignation does nothing to help you deal with your anger.”

“You can address the root causes of anger in your relationship by giving back the responsibility for fixing ADD to the partner who has it. While at the same time, taking charge of your own happiness again.”

FORGIVENESS

“The cure for anger? – Forgiveness”

“Blame diminishes each partners ability to be empathetic – it impairs the ability to forgive – it sets up two people as adversaries rather than partners – it provides an excuse to not keep trying.”

“Forgiveness can only occur after anger and sadness have been exposed, expressed and validated.”

MOVING FORWARD

“You should allow yourself to experience sadness, because grieving for what you have not had in your marriage, up to this point, is one of the first steps toward building a new life together.”

“Both partners should grieve over what could have been, but wasn’t because of the unrecognized effects of ADD on your lives. You can’t resolve someone’s grief. Just acknowledge and empathize; don’t dismiss. Over time, grief that is acknowledged and validated will heal.”

“Seek help! A good counselor will help you focus on today’s issues rather than the past.”

HOPE

“When couples learn about ADD and work together to address problematic symptoms, life can improve dramatically.”

TREATMENT

“Deciding whether to treat ADD is the sole responsibility of the person who has it. How to respond to your husband’s decision about treatment is up to you.”

“If the your husband decides against treatment, you will be left with only unpleasant choices:”

1) force treatment
2) force change without treatment
3) give up on change but stay in the relationship                                                (which often results in depression and anger)
4) leave the relationship

MOVING ON

“Your husband might refuse treatment for ADD symptoms, essentially forcing you to “take it or leave it”

“At some point, the situation may become untenable for you and if your husband remains uninterested in treatment, expressing your own needs very clearly in the form of an ultimatum is all that will be left.”

. . . There may be an ultimatum in my future.

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Every second Tuesday of the month,” I read. “OK, I can do this”, I thought . . . “I need to do this.”

I have been receiving prayer and amazing support from my Christian friends for two months now, but in dealing with the ADD behaviors of my husband, their empathy came with no personal experience of how difficult it can be. Even my therapist had not encountered patients with adult ADD. It was time for me to attend a support group.

I walked into the meeting on the second Tuesday of the month and listened as the handful of people went around the table introducing themselves and talking about the challenges they faced, living with a loved one who has adult ADD.

The moderator, a well-known author on the subject, interjected a comment occasionally and answered questions. When it was my turn, after introducing myself and giving a brief history of my situation, I asked her this question, “How much of a person’s behavior is rooted in their character, how much can be attributed to their ADD . . . and how do I separate the two?”

Her answer: It is difficult to separate the two because they are tightly intertwined. When a person has been living with ADD all their life, at some point, their ADD-driven tendencies become part of their character. There is hope, however, for the person who acknowledges their ADD and pursues effective treatment. Only then will you be able to know what behaviors are the result of ADD . . . and which are not.”

Since my husband was far from even considering adult ADD to be contributing to the problems in our relationship, was there any hope for a better future? I needed more time with this “expert” (G.P) than the evening’s forum provided. She spoke from her own personal experience as well as from years of researching adult ADD and counseling those affected by it.

When we met for lunch the following week, this is what I shared and learned:

Me: “I am suffering from a chronic, toxic case of anger.”

G.P: “Most of the anger and problems in the non-ADD spouse are really and truly a reflection of dealing with ADD symptoms.”

“It’s easy to be angry that life has been so much harder than you had expected it to be because ADD is present. “

“Anger is a warning sign that things are not going as they should. The anger itself is not the issue, it’s how you act on your anger that’s important.”

Me: “My anger is what he blames as one of the real roots of our problems.”

G.P: “It’s not uncommon for an ADD spouse to convince himself that his wife’s anger is the real cause of their problems. (instead of his behavior) Yes, it is a factor that needs to be addressed, but it’s also a response to specific ADD symptoms.”

Me: “There are definitely times when the last thing I want to do is spend time with my husband, but for the sake of the marriage, I make an effort anyways. When he does not respond, I inevitably feel hurt and disappointment.”

G.P: “It can be much easier to blame or withdraw rather than take the difficult step of trying to connect when anger is present. But when the response of an ADD spouse is unpredictable, the non-ADD spouse will likely experience disappointment or lose faith in a positive or consistent outcome.

Me: “I often feel my reactions and expectations are considered unreasonable. It takes time for me to put words to my feelings and to identify the actions that caused them. When I do, my husband does not acknowledge his behavior, comprehend the effects of it, or even remember the event long enough to not do again.”

G.P: “A person with ADD may have trouble remembering what you recently talked about. It may seem like you have the same arguments over and over, because you do.”

“People with ADD lack a hierarchy filter in relation to ideas, memories . . . there is difficulty prioritizing . . . Because they don’t receive and process information in a hierarchical way, your suffering enters his mind at about the same level as everything else he perceives.”

Me: “I take his behavior personally and think, if he loved me, respected me, valued me & our relationship, these things wouldn’t happen. But he says none of what I consider ‘bad behavior’ is done with the intent to hurt me.”

G.P: “A non-ADD spouse doesn’t understand why her ADD spouse is so unwilling to consistently be responsible or responsive. She personalizes his behavior, figuring it is rooted in a basic lack of respect for her, her needs, and their relationship. (rather than from fear, shame, or hopelessness)”

“It’s important that the ADD spouse consider impulsiveness as a symptom that needs treatment. ‘Not meaning’ to hurt someone is not enough.”

“An ADD spouse should not equate good intentions with good outcomes. Actions are important and if one spouse says the other’s actions are inadequate, they likely are, regardless of the intent.”

“A non-ADD spouse must understand that it is not spitefulness, laziness, meanness, or lack of desire that keeps her husband from doing what she requested . . . but at the same time, ADD is not an excuse for continued incompetence.”

Her advice? In my next post . . .

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I’ve been taught there are two ways through life – the way of nature and the way of grace.
You have to choose which one you’ll follow.
Grace doesn’t try to please itself.
Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked.
Accepts insults and injuries.
Nature only wants to please itself.
Get others to please it too.
Likes to lord it over them.
To have its own way.
It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it.
Even when love is smiling through all things.
I’ve been taught that no one who loves the way of Grace ever comes to a bad end.
I will be true to You.
Whatever comes.
(taken from the movie, Tree of Life)

My husband has stopped speaking to me. He is angry. Feels disrespected that I would question him. Believes he is completely justified in ignoring me and giving me the “cold shoulder”. But who should really be indignant, here? . . . Me or him? . . . I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

***

Tax time. I wasn’t completely clueless. I knew our refund was usually a big one, but that was about all I knew. In the past, I would usually drop by the local H&R Block office just to sign our tax forms after my husband had spent the hour with our tax preparer pouring over W-2’s, bank statements, and 1099’s. We usually filed early, so the refund could be used to pay the property taxes . . . and the remainder of the refund went directly into my husband’s bank account. My requests for a portion of the refund to be spent on helping pay school tuition or to lower credit card balances were either ignored or not deemed “do-able”.

This year, I decided to join my husband at the appointment. As the tax preparer began filling in the form with numbers from our W-2’s, a sick feeling swept over me.

The total amount of our income was more than I imagined.

Much more.

I was aware that we received a large refund check every spring, but never realized how much we earned throughout the year.

“How could this be,” I wondered. “Where was the money going?”

Our lifestyle, in no way, reflected an income of that amount. Working part time, my salary paid the monthly bills and the kid’s expenses. My husband paid the mortgage and the groceries.

It didn’t add up.

Our combined salaries minus our expenses left sooooo much money unaccounted for . . . so much of my husband’s money.

I questioned him. Was there a secret savings account? An addictive or spending compulsion? Did he even know where the money was going? He had no reasonable answer, became defensive . . . evasive, and has not spoken to me since.

He has added this incident to his list of the ways I have “wronged” him, and yet seems incapable of acknowledging any of the ways he has done wrong to others.

Whether due to his personality, ADD, or childhood scars, life for him is viewed as a victim. He needs someone to blame in order to justify his behavior; because to accept responsibility would also mean admitting he is wrong and unreasonable for reasons having to do with his own character.

He has a fragile ego . . . I get that, but demanding authority without taking responsibility is a warped way of fulfilling Christ’s command for his role as head of our family.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

5:22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

5:25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. (the Message)

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I feel sick. Not the head-achy, stuffy nose kind of sick, but the knot in my stomach, disgust rising in my throat kind. And the more I read the writings of well-intentioned Christian authors, the more sick I feel.

Authors who I find while looking for advice on how to be a better wife, so I can have a better marriage write things like this:

 

Unless your life is in danger, stick it out.”

 

Keep conversations at home “light and airy.” A man will stay on guard if he thinks you’re going to bring up problems. One of your goals is to create a secure emotional climate at home so that your husband will feel it is safe to talk to you. When he is ready to talk, LISTEN. He will think you are wonderful. Let him initiate these conversations.”

 

OBEY your husband! There are few times when it will conflict with God’s will. Have a sweet spirit about you.”

 

God can give you grace to ignore any unkind words or actions from your mate.”

 

Mothers belong at home (1st Timothy 5:14). It’s far better to be burned out at home than to be burned out at work in a plethora of temptations. I don’t care who you are, you cannot rise above temptation. Though God always makes a way to escape, why take chances by walking in the workplace of the ungodly. It surely is no place for a Christian lady.”

 

What the Lord doesn’t change in your spouse, learn to accept and live with—and if possible, enjoy or even appreciate.”

 

Don’t add to your husband’s stresses with demands or pressure.”

 

I can’t imagine under what circumstances any of this advice would ever be helpful, but it is definitely the WRONG advice when a spouse has ADD.

 “It might sound hard to believe, but when ADD is in the picture. The wrong therapy can be worse than no therapy. One long time support group member echoes the group consensus: ‘At best, therapy that fails to acknowledge ADD is a waste of time and money. At worst, it is destructive and can exacerbate everybody’s problems. My fantasy is to put all the couples counselors who blamed me instead of my spouse’s ADD behavior on a 14 day cruise with all our ADD partners. No days in harbor – just out to sea.”

As I read through my journal and this blog, I cant help but wonder, “Where has God been in all this?” . . . “What has He been trying to teach me?” . . . I have suffered much over the course of my marriage and I feel like the only lessons learned are :

1) my husband will hurt me
2) I need to protect myself from him

Shouldn’t there be some higher spiritual application? Something more relevant than this? Instead, I can only nod my head in agreement when I read these word from a non ADD spouse:

 My husband just hurts me and moves on, then hurts me again. And if he is moving on, he thinks I should be, too – He just doesn’t get it, that you can hurt someone emotionally only so many times and then the person stays tensed up waiting to be hurt again.”

Now that is something I can say (shout), “Amen(!)” to. But where do ADD and God and marriage meet? Or any kind of emotional abuse for that matter? The Christian community’s answer seems to be the age-old response of “wifely submission”, but that is of no use to me.

Ephesians 3:14-16 When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious unlimited resources He will give (me) mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit.

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“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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