What it's like to be married to/cohabiting with an ADDer

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What it's like to be married to/cohabiting with an ADDer 2012-12-01T01:46:50+00:00

The Forums Forums For The Non-ADD I Married An ADDer What it's like to be married to/cohabiting with an ADDer

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  • #89319

    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Post count: 14413

    The short answer: it’s hard work.

    My Significant Other and I are not married. We’ve been together for 3 1/2 years, and decided to combine households a year ago. He’s 63, I’m 44. We’ve both been married before. Between us, we have 6 adult children. I saw the program on PBS during the pledge drive last spring and went “oh my God, that’s IT!” Although I strongly suspect my SO has ADD/ADHD, he has not been tested or diagnosed. He is resistant to the idea that he “might” have ADD.

    I love this man with all that is in me. He is an incredible human being and I cherish nearly every moment with him. We have been through many of the same experiences in life and enjoy many of the same interests. We get each other’s jokes. He is amazingly funny, quirky, creative, enthusiastic, energetic and always up to something. He sees the world in a totally different way than I do, and I need that. In many ways, we each provide balance for the other.

    And then there’s the flip side. It’s a weird melange of what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes it’s like living with a menopausal Tasmanian Devil. I don’t know how the same person can have both a Swiss cheese memory and a mind that’s like a steel trap, but he does.

    The clutter and misplaced items as well as the impulsive and sometimes inappropriate behavior have caused and are continuing to cause problems in our relationship. A steady stream of online affairs that began because he got bored aren’t okay with me. It doesn’t work for me when he borrows my car keys, does not put them back, and I am late to work because my car keys are in his pants pocket, in his locker at work.

    Blustering, posturing and bluffing his way through when what’s really going on is that he’s embarrassed because he’s forgotten something AGAIN is also not doing much for me. I’d like to celebrate my birthday and have an anniversary. I’d like to go to the company picnic WITH the camp chairs rather than without.

    I’d like to feel like a partner, not a nag or a parent.

    Because he is resistant to the idea that he “might” have ADD, we’re in the process of getting outside, professional help with our “communication” issues.

    MissMuffins

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    #102212

    Wgreen
    Participant
    Post count: 445

    MissMuffins, thanks for that.

    To those who may have just happened on this string, it’s a “companion string” to another about “ADD superpowers.” Many ADDers believe that the same neurological chemistry that causes them to lose their keys, live in a rat’s nest, and suffer from numerous impulsive behaviors also conveys certain personality “gifts,” perhaps most notably a knack for highly creative thinking.

    ADD experts are divided on this issue. Dr. Ned Hallowell, for example, believes that ADD—when treated—can be a net positive. Others, most notably Dr. Russell Barkley, maintains that ADD is a serious disorder with no proven upside whatsoever. While Barkley concedes that ADDers often are very talented, he asserts those talents exist independently from Attention Deficit.

    In a recent video, Barkley talks about a longitudinal (long-term) study on ADD that he and several colleagues conducted in Wisconsin. In that presentation, he makes an interesting comment: he says that perceptions of ADD and its impact vary greatly between people who actually have it and those who have to live with them. Ask an ADDer how Attention Deficit affects his/her life and you’ll get one answer. Ask a parent or spouse and you’ll often get an ENTIRELY different answer. MissMuffins’ situation sounds like it could be a case in point.

    Accordingly, it seems appropriate that if we’re going to entertain theories of ADD gifts, we should at least ask for second informed opinions. It should be instructive, even though it obviously won’t shed light on any secret (mis)behaviors that may be lurking beyond the gaze of a spouse. Of course, for this to work, we need to hear from ADDers as well as their significant others—they need to be matched up. Anybody game? And no cheating!!

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    #102213

    Tiddler
    Member
    Post count: 802

    I’m game. I’ll ask my husband to write something too to compare.

    I um utterly and completely chaotic. I lose everything. I don’t lose my keys as much as I used to but I used to frequently need lock-smiths to get into my house. I lose mobile phones. I lose my cash card every few days and borrow my husband’s frequently. I break them because I lose handbags so have to carry them in my back pocket.

    The kitchen look like a bomb site every day after I’ve finished cooking. My husband sweeps round after me, dealing with the fall-out. He also regularly has to sort out the bedroom because I’ve dropped everything on the floor. I drop money out of my pockets all the time and he finds notes on the floor.

    I impulse buy for projects that sometimes never get started never mind finished. My kids asked for a goldfish so I bought 5 fish tanks and started breeding fish. Now I have one tank and even that is a bit too much to manage.

    I get so BORED.. I need to be doing – all the time. But I am exhausted all the time so often the ‘doing’ is reading or surfing the net. The kids call it ‘clackity clackity argue argue’ because I get involved in online debates/arguments and just can’t let it go. I am extremely emotional with no ability to regulate my expression of how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking. It bubbles out of me whether I want it to or not.

    Less so recently as I’m insanely busy, which suits me just fine. We began home educating our kids a couple of months ago and I am also a full time research student so the hours are LONG. I like that just fine. I’m the happiest I ever remember being as a result.

    I think our relationship works very well. I’m all about the chaos, the impulse, the reaction, the emotion, the changes, the driving forward. He’s an aspie, quiet, thinking, needs the familiar, the quiet, the time alone. He doesn’t react to my emotional outbursts because he doesn’t notice them or doesn’t know what to do with them and that helps bring me back. He is great at doing mundane tasks because they’re routine and leave his mind free to go wherever he wants, so he can cope with picking up after me.

    Likewise, I can pull him a little out of his comfort zone to help him deal with emotions, or try something new or give him the confidence to take a risk. There’s no danger of him being able to become stagnant in his life because I need the change and won’t let him and there’s no danger of me (for example) selling the house and buying a bus to live in then regretting it a month later because he needs the stability.

    So, between us we balance the see-saw pretty well I think.

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    #102214

    nellie
    Member
    Post count: 596

    As someone in a situation scarily similar to MissMuffins, I’m not seeing this as a side-thread to ADD gift or not. Regardless of how you see your positive traits, the fact remains that if you are co-habitating with someone who exhibits the same ADD traits that you have and who refuses to acknowledge them, life is a royal pain in the you know what! I think the issue here is what to do about the negatives.

    We all know communication is an important factor in a relationship whether ADD is present or not. Throw in two people where one of them likes to stick their head in the sand when it comes to difficult emotions and I will readily admit it’s no gift! The question is how do you get this person in denial to open up and explore what’s really contributing to the problem areas in the relationship? i have no idea, have tried it all except marriage counselling so far. ironically, I just had a “conversation” with my husband yesterday where I told him once again living with him is no picnic and difficult. He had the nerve to act surprised and then told me I talk too much and dominate conversations. Well go figure, guess my ADD traits drive him nuts too :-)

    I can identify with many of MissMuffin’s issues and it seems to me that women with ADD will probably end up behaving like the parent in the relationship likely because of our natural inclination to nurture, although that may obviously not be the case in every relationship. I am, however, willing to bet money that this is quite common.

    I strive to keep organized but have in no way mastered my paperwork or household . However, at least I try. He on the other hand is a walking organizational disaster and I’m constantly having to pick up the pieces. Be it forgotten bills or what have you. It was like this even before I figured out that I had ADD and got a proper diagnosis. He does not want to acknowledge any of it and thinks it’s a a bunch of pop psychology bunk. It would be nice not to have to be on constant alert mode. ALthough on the other hand I’m lucky that he has the “real” job and goes to work everyday while I am free to pursue my freelance work from home. So at least there’s a balance. Of course, I do all the home maintenance, childcare, etc. etc. Balance? Sometimes I wonder.

    Tiddler seems to me you have a relationship that offers a balance of both your traits.

    As for those of us living in a relationship where an imbalance creates a communication barrier, I for the moment am taking the tack to try everything. If it fails ,I guess we are left with a put up or get out scenario. I suppose the upside to one partner being aware is that at least one is capable of grabbing the steering wheel and trying to get back on the road. But hell, it would be nice if someone else would remember to put some power steering fluid in the damn car! :-)

    Addendum: Sorry i just realized what you meant about a side-thread – I hadn’t read the recent posts on the other thread. ALthough I think if you actually read the above you can see I’m not saying it’s all roses. However, I am anonymous and my husband doesn’t know I post on this site and I’d like to keep it that way :-) So sorry all I can give you is hearsay evidence of it being hell to live with me :-)

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    #102215

    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Post count: 14413

    @Nellie: You’re right, it’s not “all roses” living with an ADDer…it’s roses and rosemary and anything else in the garden center, followed by tea with rosehips and rosewater and rose-colored glasses and a thousand other things, including weeds and thorns.

    Having twice been married to men who did not have ADD, I can tell you it’s neither better nor worse being with someone whom I suspect to have ADD…it’s just different. All people have issues. It’s a matter of recognizing your own issues, dealing with them responsibly, and then choosing someone who doesn’t give you more issues or whose issues don’t make your own issues worse.

    I think there’s a great deal of emphasis on negative differences and very little emphasis on choosing one’s battles, deciding when to NOT compromise, and how to make ADD work for the ADDer and those who love him or her. In order to do that, one must first be willing to confirm whether or not it is ADD, and then be willing to do something about it.

    I know it creates problems for my SO. Every day, I hear his negative self-talk as he mutters under his breath while searching for who knows how long for yet another misplaced item. I see the chagrined look upon his face each time he returns to the house five to ten minutes after leaving, to retrieve whatever it is he forgot. I bear witness to his ongoing struggle with depression which, at times, includes suicidal ideation.

    I know something needs to be done about it, and the situation is such that I’m not willing to “compromise” on it any more. We’re either seeing someone and working on this together, or I have to leave the relationship. As much as I love him and want to be understanding about what’s going on with him, I won’t tolerate any more of his online shenanigans. That’s a deal breaker.

    If he wants to call it by another name for now, that’s fine. If he never calls it ADD, I guess in the global sense that would be fine, too. The real issue isn’t labeling him, pumping him full of chemicals, or making him feel like there’s something “wrong” with him; it’s getting him to use techniques for managing ADD out of recognition that doing so is beneficial to both of us individually and as a couple.

    He can keep his dresser drawers, clothes closet and drawers in the bathroom in whatever state of disarray he wants to. It’s his stuff and he doesn’t turn out looking like something that’s just been pulled from the bottom of a rag bag. He is cool with putting away his own laundry and purchasing his own toiletries, and he is cool with it if I do those things for him.

    If he wants to have a wine bottle full of dimes just because he always thought that would be cool, I don’t care–they’re his dimes, his shelf, and his shed. However, he ALSO needs to know how many dimes are in his bank account, and make sure enough are there to cover his share of the rent.

    He can stockpile whatever random objects his creative mind on overdrive thinks could he use for something, someday. I don’t care if he ever gets around to actually doing anything with them. If caching breath mint tins, plastic “bread ties” and other odd bits makes him happy, he can just go for it. He may not leave them scattered all over everywhere, nor may he store them in such a manner as to harbor infestations of insects, vermin, or the various and sundry single-celled organisms that make my asthma worse.

    Getting him organized means getting myself organized, too. He isn’t the only one who has interests and hobbies, and who tends to leave them in places his partner finds odd or inconvenient, usually both. ;)

    If we have to label the cupboards and drawers to keep him aware of where we have mutually agreed to store things in common areas such as the kitchen and laundry, then we can do that. I’d rather spend money on label-makers and bins than on doubles and triples (if only we were talking in terms of doubles and triples) of more crap than we’ll ever use by its “use by” date just because he forgot where he put it, or put it away in some random place instead of where we decided it goes.

    Sometimes I wish I was better at schooling my initial response. The other day, he came home elated because he bought five pairs of gloves on sale. I quashed it with my knee-jerk, “Honey, what in the hell are you going to do with five pairs of gloves?” Later, I realized that while I usually buy new gloves because those which go with that coat or scarf have worn out, he actually NEEDS five pairs of gloves. He’ll lose most of them before winter’s out. They’re gloves, for God’s sake. I can either bitch about them, or I can be happy he got them on sale. I let us both down when I didn’t choose “happy”. I’m lucky he has a short memory and sunny disposition.

    MissMuffins

    PS: WOO HOO–my Amazon.com order with the ADD books just got here!

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    #102216

    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Post count: 14413

    Hello everyone – I’m Ms. Toofat.. I was tickled to be invited to comment on my life with Toofat! I have read many of the posts on the various ADD threads over the years and cherish the opportunity to read and discuss Toofat’s comments before he presses send. We have been married since 1975 and dated for 7 years before that. Safe to say we are life long partners. Over the years we have tried many different things to make our relationship work, which has included several different counselors, parenting classes, etc. Although none of them completely “fixed” our problems, many offered nuggets of wisdom which we adopted. One thing that remained constant, Toofat would not entertain the idea of divorce and so we worked through the difficulties life presents. It helps that I no longer need to argue to the death on any given point, and I more readily take some of his suggestions.

    It is hard to know when or where to start – the subject is sooo big for me, for us, but here goes… in about 1987, give or take a year, I noticed things starting to come off the rails for our eldest who had just started Grade 4. He noticeably was having problems paying attention in school, following directions, etc., everyone agreed he had a great personality and they loved him to bits, but wished he was in someone else’s class because he was a “problem”. This broke my/our hearts. One day I discovered a list of generic ADD symptoms and recognized the people I loved there. This discovery as it turns out, would change our lives.

    I shared it with Toofat, who sought out a diagnosis from a reputable doctor, and I started the painful process of getting the school to recognize that our son and daughter were not the problems, the system was.

    Geee, this made me the odd man out in my own home, ADDers – 3, Linear thinkers – 1.

    From that point on we strived to understand ADD and not look at it as a “disorder”, but look at it as processing information differently. I think Toofat and I are both quite liberal thinkers, very open minded, and have always looked at authority or authoritarians skeptically, as something to be challenged. I think in many ways that helped us to look for the strengths, and to develop alternate coping mechanisms for other things that were frustrating. Those days were not easy for all of us. Those days were very hard indeed.

    Living with Toofat has been great overall, when I wasn’t irritated. We pretty much look at every situation differently, although politically, socially, artistically we are two peas in a pod. I like making decisions on the fly, frequently changing things around in the house, if I think I see a better way of doing something. I generally don’t like the same same in life. Which means the peanut butter may not always be in the same cupboard it was yesterday. Toofat, organizes the mundane things in his life, establishing a consistent routine for himself, so he doesn’t have to waist time thinking about them, I couldn’t relate to many of his needs and thought many were ridiculous. For example, the peanut butter must be on the same shelf day in , day out, his socks are always black, always 2 dozen pairs, always in the same drawer in an orderly fashion. I find his behavior very interesting seeing as how the rest of the bedroom looks like a cyclone hit it, messy end table, pile of laundry on the floor ( his side). I cope by having my ½ of the room. I keep it the way I like it, without his stuff. I no longer have the need to buy laundry baskets that he doesn’t use. This applies to my ½ of the shared bathroom, ½ of the coffee table, etc. You can see the pattern. Another example are vehicle keys, which are placed in a bowl by the front door, as soon as we come in the door, no more frantic “key searches” just to get out the door.

    He builds really nice motorcycles, he has done that all our lives, and I am constantly amazed to see them develop from absolutely nothing but an idea, a bucket of bolts and a pile of raw steel. There is always at least one bike being built at any given time. However, for the most part his shop looks like a cyclone hit it. I can let all of the mess go, it is his world. I have enough space to just stand inside the door to hand him a coffee from time to time, and have a visit. I ride and have my own bike, which he maintains and keeps spotless for me, because, well to be honest I don’t need to have my bike spotless. I cope by having my space in the garage which is wide enough and just long enough for one Sportster. I can get my bike in and out of the garage on my own without first moving a ton of “stuff”. While Toofat is OCD about keeping his motorcycles clean, the rest of the garage, not so much.

    Toofat likes his stuff out just to have it around and in plain sight. He is “Flat Surface Challenged”. Every flat surface in the entire house has bits of paper and other clutter all over it, his notes, phone numbers, and to do’s., yellow stickies YIKES! This used to send me into cleaning jags and then he couldn’t find anything. Over time I became more relaxed about this and even more so since I’ve been retired. Why send the man into a tizzy for nothing. When I can’t stand the clutter anymore I call for a “flat surface clean up day” and he sorts and throws a thing or two away. As an aside, he started sorting papers while I was out this morning, which now are spread all over the living room rug and he is out in the garage??? Oh well, it’s not life threatening.

    He has a Blues & Boogie band which I love. As I mentioned we have music in common. He plays songs that I like and consults me on ones that he writes. The byproduct is, the family room is now a music studio and the band comes over once a week for practice. Again, the room looks like a cyclone hit it, but many creative things come out of the basement. I enjoy it all from upstairs. It seems he plays music almost every minute of the day, but, I have plenty of time for silence when he is out in the garage.

    Toofat has been and is very supportive of my endeavours. He has time for me and shares himself. He also makes me laugh, and will talk tirelessly about problem solving and the human condition. On the other hand, I never ask him to remember to bring home a loaf of bread because it won’t happen. Again not life threatening. Loving 3 ADDers has been wonderful, but not always easy. I really enjoy all the different things they bring to the table like wacky humor, their intelligence, their life experiences and perspectives, which are quite different from mine.

    Well I have never written on a blog before. I’m sure this shouldn’t have been so long and I apologize for that. It was great to be asked for input. So much more to say, but I will leave it at that. Keep talking, keep sharing.

    Ms. Toofat

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    #102217

    Wgreen
    Participant
    Post count: 445

    Ms Weight Challenged—

    You’re a real sweetheart! Sounds to me that while your hubby may not be a “bargain,” he’s still a special guy. Thanks for taking the time to become a blogger. Now that you know where we are, feel free to come and rant whenever he gets out of line…

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    #102218

    Tiddler
    Member
    Post count: 802

    I’ve posted this twice already but this is the thread he wrote it for:

    From my husband:

    I’m not very good at this kind of stuff. I don’t really know what to say.

    We’ve been married for 10 years. I can’t imagine being with anybody else. I feel like we’ve both really grown. We compliment each other really well and we understand each other really well. We’ve enabled each other to grow immeasurably.

    She’s very caring and honest and loyal. She’s funny and a wonderful mother. She’s forthright with her opinions and has a lot of strength. She’s good at ‘feelings’! She’s very understanding of me and the things that I find hard. (I’m an aspie.) For example, she was very understanding of me wanting to leave work when I hated it, despite the fact that it meant a serious drop in our income. She understands that I need my own space and that I find it hard to socialise and don’t want to socialise.

    What was hard was trying to understand what seemed like very irrational behaviour, like I couldn’t square up her high standards of behaviour and her incredibly low standards for tidiness! I think it’s fair to say she would occasionally have very strong emotional outburst which is the complete opposite to me, so I found that quite hard to deal with. And she seemed to change her mind a lot and contradict herself a lot. Even though I knew from how we spoke, she was clearly intelligent – very intelligent – and a committed professional, she could have the appearance of being disorganised, slipshod and lazy, which I couldn’t understand but I knew it wasn’t really her.

    I am fairly sure at one point I suggested she might have ADHD but I was being flippant. It took a few years for her to get the diagnosis. These things didn’t really matter because above all the chaos she has a good heart. I feel very lucky.

    The slow realisation that there was a reason for the chaos and that it could be dealt with and then the realisation that it was ADHD and then the diagnosis has helped to vastly reduce the amount of stress in the family. It’s hard when you don’t know what’s going on. I used to think I didn’t make her happy. Her mind was never on things so I thought she was really sad, but it’s just because her mind DOESN’T stay on things! Knowing that has made a big difference because it’s removed any nagging doubt that things wouldn’t work out okay.

    Now there’s still chaos and that’s probably as much because we’re all in a state of flux. I’m building a business. We’ve got 2 small home schooled children and it IS chaotic, but I really think we’ve worked around the ADHD so much that it seems like a small factor in the chaos. I feel that the stresses and strains we have are normal ones now. I stand by the motto ‘we can handle it’.

    She is able to give me an emotional link to society and people that I would have let slip without her. She supports me with everything. She’s wonderfully supportive. I can’t imagine anyone else tolerating the decisions I make! I know she loves me unconditionally and I love her unconditionally.

    I’m very proud of her and what she’s achieved, especially given how many hurdles have been thrown at her during her life. I know she’s had a difficult life in lots of ways and I know she appreciates what we have now. I like that she still has ambitions.

    Also, I don’t know how she got all that out of me. But here it is.

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    #102219

    Tiddler
    Member
    Post count: 802

    Ms Toofat and Toofat, you sound like a really great couple. Thanks for letting us into your world for a little while!

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    #102220

    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Post count: 14413

    Your a “Good Sport Mr. Tiddler”, I get that this was not easy to do, but it is appreciated……really!!

    more…..

    I just got the above posted when saw your note Tid, so I quickly hit the edit button…..whew, just in time. So, I’ll continue a little…… yes, I agree it is nice to have a tiny peek into each others lives, from a bit different perspective. I enjoyed your partners post thoroughly, no surprise though….you have always come across as that kind of person….your written thoughts reflect that. :)

    I will let Ms.Toofat know your partner has posted, I’m sure she will be anxious to read it. In a way I share so much of what goes on here….your already not a stranger to her.

    Again, thanks for sharing Mr. T…..it was great!!!

    Toofat

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