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Why would I NOT take this personally?

Woman on phone disappointed

I try to accept that my husband’s ADHD is a disorder, but it can be tough to NOT take things personally. When similar things happen repeatedly, and my feelings are hurt, I find it challenging to be in our relationship.

My husband and I were doing some volunteer work. This was a shiny new exciting thing to help out at a new place, so he was all for helping. Of course, I can’t ask him to do something at home without an RSD reaction or waiting patiently for months. He is energized by the community at the site, and then he doesn’t have to look for work that day. We had different things going on in the morning, so we each did our own thing with the understanding I’d drop by the site later. I had our toddler with me and an appointment elsewhere.

Dear husband was at the site first. My daughter and I were at home gathering supplies and donations to bring to the site. It takes me a while to get things together because I’m 35 weeks pregnant at the time and highly uncomfortable. Of course, I shouldn’t be lifting heavy items, but yes, that is what I was doing. Before we leave home, I see that he left me a few voicemails, so I call him. He needs a few supplies. I tell him I’ll grab those items, I will pick up lunch on the way, and we’ll be there soon.

My daughter and I get to the site. We can’t find him. I call him, but no answer. We ask around. Great, now we are playing the game, ‘Where’s Dad?’. Nothing new there. About twenty minutes later, we are told he left and ran home to get something. The site is literally 2 miles from our home, so he likely left right after speaking on the phone.

My daughter and I are starving, so we eat our lunch. Every 3 minutes, she asks, ‘Where is Dad? Why isn’t Dad here? When is Dad coming? etc.’ My heart just breaks when this happens because I know she is disappointed too. I try to make the lunch fun and focus on something else, but my heart is hurting too. I feel we are unimportant, insignificant, and forgotten.

I had the expectation we would all have lunch together, or at least when we got to the site, he’d come to say hello, tell me he is busy, and grab his sandwich. I honestly would have gone there with no expectation at all, but we’ve had a good week and a good session with our marriage therapist, so I feel like positive changes have been happening. We are supposed to be trying to have fun together, and my ADHD husband recently stated that he wants us to do more things together–as a family, and to help create more intimacy. I like the goal, but it’s nothing new. In our therapist session, I expressed my feeling about being my responsibility to fix. I would need to plan, schedule, make sure it is good, get everyone out the door on time, pack what is required, pay for the day–it sounds like fun. All to have it get messed up or criticized somehow.

I call him when we are done eating, and sweet kiddo got to play on the playground. My husband is at home, he needed to pick up something, and he says he will be right over. Another hour goes by.

Kiddo and I need a nap. Hubby goes to the other side of the site and calls me to tell me where he is. I told him I’m tired and not walking all the way over there–I’m a pregnant woman who just spent the morning lifting heavy things. My back and hips hurt terribly. He drives around, is all happy about the items he brought, and comments that I look upset.

I explain how I feel. I use the “I feel statements” and am now in tears.

Somehow in our communication, he has no idea I was bringing lunch, but food aside, he plays both sides as to his understanding of me coming over at all. I ask for validation of my feelings.

I know it is just lunch, but stuff like this happens all the time. Important things similar to this happen all the time. My ADHD husband forgets, he misunderstands, and it’s my fault in his eyes.

We talk about it later, as my homework from our marriage therapist is to ask for repair when a repair is needed. So I gently ask. To my surprise, he doesn’t have an RSD reaction. Who-hoo! He has been working on that this week. The logic is still missing from my perspective, but he admits to confusion from our conversation earlier. My ask: if he has any confusion from any discussion we have, he needs to tell me. That we need to work that out. He should not guess or assume and that it is his responsibility to voice his confusion. Sigh. Patience.

I can’t help but take it personally when he completely forgets I’m showing up or we have plans. I do believe he forgets because something else more exciting filled his mind–something with higher gratification, something that gives the dopamine rush. That doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed again. Do I need to go into every scenario with no expectation? That seems complicated when you’re trying to rebuild and repair a relationship. I’m tired of feeling like I don’t matter. I don’t want our kids to feel like they don’t matter.

I receive validation on this from my support group and believe I’m not overreacting. I’ve been experiencing this in our marriage nearly the entire time. There is nowhere else in my life that I experience this.

I try to imagine if this will get better over time. I imagine how this will continue to feel 10 years down the road.

Do you experience these feelings with your ADHD partner?

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