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Relationships & Social Issues This forum is for adults with AD/HD to discuss how AD/HD affects personal relationships.

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Old 05-17-04, 03:12 PM
paulbf paulbf is offline
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Commitment, Responsibility and Compromise

This is a follow-up to the ďPending DivorceĒ thread.

[big sigh]

Her problem with me is that Iím selfish and off in my own world without consideration for her. She feels she has given so much and Iíve not given anything: I just do what I want and donít treat her as an equal partner. Iím nearly incapable of compromise, which is true. And, when she has a big concern about something like cash flow and security/stability, I just donít care, which is unfortunately true. I really, genuinely donít get it when sheís so worried about money or other things that we perceive differently and I canít even pretend to care. And the classic problem that she would like me to do something nice for her on my own like buy her flowers. Something like this, I just donít get.

I am a kind person with gentle optimistic thoughts toward the world: not mean or spiteful but itís true that I am not empathetic. If I donít feel what someone is going through, I am indifferent and uncaring. I donít know if this is an ADD trait, a learned behavior or a moral weakness. I assume itís an inborn trait for me and cannot be learned. The concept of moral weakness is not helpful to me, only guilt ridden so I think I must dismiss it. Or to be more clear, I donít feel like itís a moral weakness though it makes me feel bad there doesnít seem to be anything I can do about it so I accept it as an inborn trait. My wife surely sees this as laziness and selfishness but it is simple reality for me. How can I make myself feel something? I suppose I can do things like buy flowers that are simple and just think of the reward that will come when she smiles but I donít think of doing it because it makes no sense to me. I donít even appreciate when she brings me chocolate, I just snarf it down and sort of wish she didnít even do that because I eat too many candy bars on my own anyways. I donít appreciate it. I donít appreciate when she sacrifices to save and scrimp to secure our financial future either. Financial security does not have importance to me though it sounds nice and when Iím working, Iím willing to put some money in savings if itís not harmful, I frankly donít care.

I have no sense of responsibility or commitment either. I wouldnít dare cheat on her, thatís not what I mean but I canít force myself to make promises to do things that I donít care about. I know ADD isnít supposed to be used as an excuse but the ADD explanation does explain how I feel about this. Let me explain in terms of what I was reading from Russell Barkley about the executive functions: Most people are able to form and hold an image in their mind of feelings they have like love for a partner and a wish to make them happy. This emotional image remains in their head as a reminder to take that into consideration with every action they take. Being able to hold that feeling allows people to have an inner motivation to make decisions that are removed by some layers from the immediate experience of the moment. Iíll work back to an explanation for this below.

I care for my wife and want her to be happy. I enjoy her company and support but I also see that sometimes she worries about the future and feels insecure and sacrifices herself too much and does not leave room for her own happiness and self fulfillment. I dearly would like to help her find some way to thrive in the here and now without sacrificing and allow herself to be more optimistic and less worried. When I see her doing artwork or reaching out to friends, I encourage that and tell her how good that is.

What I donít care about is when she has a legitimate responsible notion that it is wise to save money and that she would be more happy and relaxed if only I could make more money then she wouldnít be consumed by the worry and she could then be free to explore her passion. That is too many levels of translation to have an impact on me. While I can work through the logic pretty easily, it doesnít have enough emotional impact on me after all that abstraction. It is not immediate enough for me to feel.

1. I want her to be happy.
2. She canít be happy if sheís not secure.
3. I need to make her secure to make her happy.
4. I need to work harder and sacrifice my dreams to make her secure.

When Iím at a tough point in my work, I should be able to run through this list and gain motivation to help her but I cannot. I canít get motivated from something that abstract.

When she breaks down in tears in front of me begging me to work harder, I should be able to empathize with her and feed that into my motivational system that I can draw on later but I canít even feel why sheís so worried and crying. I just sit there like a stone wondering why this is happening because I donít care if we run out of money when we are old, we have some savings and will not become homeless and the important thing for me when Iím old is that Iíve lived a happy life, doing what I love. If I still have to work at age 70, thatís OK because I wonít be sacrificing, Iíll just be doing what I love.

Because I know how much this means to her, I worry a lot and donít allow myself to go out and really do what I want. I just sit at the computer trying to convince myself to do what I should be doing and hating it. I try to compromise my dreams into something more practical and that destroys my motivation. This is a sacrifice: a miserable one. I canít go on with the marriage either if there are these expectations hanging over me that Iím unable to react to. It makes me feel awful.

I spent the weekend with a friend who shares my interests, surrounded with his friends who all dearly love and appreciate what I am passionate about and hiking in the woods, crawling through the brush studying plants and taking pictures. My wife likes nature and she is much better than most women about going camping but she is impatient with me stopping to take pictures and cannot bushwhack on steep slopes the way I love to do.

We went camping a month ago and tried to compromise: I held myself back from taking too many pictures and boring her to death, while she tried not to be annoyed and relaxed, enjoying the scenery as I focused on my camera. I only took safe stable trails away from the poison oak and I walked slow and gave her a break when she wanted to stop. It was OK. Not bad. We enjoyed each otherís companionship and compromised to a degree that was acceptable to each of us.

But this weekend with my friend, it was so nice to be surrounded with truly supportive people and to be free to explore the mountains like the wild animal that I am without constraint. My friend is ADD so I know he doesnít care about being responsible and there was no un-approving looks if I mentioned that Iíd like to something weird or irresponsible. Heís irresponsible too and heís getting along in life, enjoys his work and appreciates my values.
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Old 05-18-04, 08:17 AM
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Paul,

I could write you a novel on this subject and wish I had the time to respond. When I get a chance I will. I have been very self centered and just plain selfish in my life in the past and actually had no clue how I made others feel. After some major mistakes and events in my life I finally made a decision that without Commitment, Responsibility and Compromise my life would be empty and aimless. I am a much happier person for it now and my life has so much more meaning.

Committment, Responsibility and Compromise can be learned if we open ourselves up to it. If we look outside of ourselves. Even if we don't "feel" it because in time it is possible for the feelings to come. Sometimes the feelings are misplaced. Some of that can do with how we were brought up, what kind of childhood we had and how we were shown affection in our lives.

I really wish I could write more but have a long day ahead of me. First work and then my father is having major bowel surgery because they were failing caused by a stroke he had about 6 years ago. The surgery should correct the problem but he is older and it is scarey. Just gotta pray that God will be in the hands of the doctor. I'll write again when I get a chance. Please take care and keep posting. Dee
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Old 05-18-04, 10:47 AM
waywardclam waywardclam is offline
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You describe my own life and problems with my wife with a painfully honest eye. I wish I had more time to think this over and respond as well. I will try to come back to it.

How did we get to be like this?

My wife may yet divorce me over it too...
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Old 05-18-04, 10:49 AM
paulbf paulbf is offline
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Well, Sunday we talked and I admitted some of my failings in a more honest revealing way after all this thinking then last night she actually thanked me for that and apologized for putting so many expectations and ultimatums on me. Looks like it might be hard to duck out of this now.
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Old 05-18-04, 11:13 AM
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Paul,
It sounds like you guys are making progress. At least your talking. I know as an ADD male I am in the same boat as you as far as my wife feelings about me. I have made changes and have been lucky to find a job I can do well and like. I have made some big mistakes with money. I have since corrected those and know that I will not go there again. My wife still holds that over my head today. Just be careful. Your wife will probably make it hard for you to leave without you being the one who decides to leave. I know my wife has threatened that many times and has yet to follow through. Even when she suggest we split she always throws it back on me.

I know that in marriage you are going to have to make some comprimises to make it work. You are going to have to decide if your dream job is realistic for you or not. I think you are also going to have to decide that about your marriage. If you can do your dream job without your wife and be happier in the long run then that is the route you may need to take. Of course it is much easier to say that than to do it. I think I might be happier if I was single and stood up for myself more, but I can tell you I am not going to end my marriage at this point.

Maybe you guys can comprimise on the camping. You can go with your frineds and maybe she can do something she likes to do with her friends while you camp. Then you will both come back excited to see each other. Then again maybe you won't.

Again good luck and keep us posted.
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Last edited by biker; 10-12-04 at 12:42 AM..
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Old 05-18-04, 02:33 PM
FightingBoredom FightingBoredom is offline
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Paul,

I have the same traits as you describe. I don't get why my wife worries about money, or worries about the kids getting hurt. I just get that she gets it. I understand, after YEARS of trying to get it, that I'm not going to ever feel the same way.

But that doesn't mean I can't recognize that SHE feels that way.

So, when she says something about the bills, or the kids getting hurt, or any of those areas where our fears differ, I become super attentive to it. I don't even agree with it half the time I just consider it attending to her. Then I take some action that will make her feel better. Most often the action I take is just to listen to her fear. AND NEVER OFFER ANY ADVICE -just listen.
Believe me, one of the hardest things for me to do is to bite my tongue when someone sounds like they need advice or comfort or a solution.
Just BITE your tongue and listen. You will be amazed how far responses like: "I'm glad you shared that with me" will take you.

Consider it like learning a new language. You are learning a new way to communicate to the woman you love.
Oh yeah, it ain't easy. But the rewards are worth it! Oh yeah, the rewards ARE worth it.
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I realized that
we exist in human form
purely to amuse
our "higher" selves.
I just hope I can remember that I came to this realization!



And I'm sick of giving people advice. They don't listen. They don't really want to deal with their issues. They just want to whine and complain and have someone else listen and tell them everything is going to be OK!


Well, everything is NOT going to be OK unless you learn to handle whatever comes your way.
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Old 05-20-04, 02:50 AM
paulbf paulbf is offline
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Well, it looks bad again. I told her she's given up on her dreams and I don't want to remain married either if she's given up on ever being happy and traded it in for financial security. Hell I'd rather be a happy bum than a comfortable wretch. I'd rather be both but it's a matter of which comes first. All I can really offer her is a meaningful life, not security and I can't survive if I'm expected to give up my dreams too.

Bah! I know I've got plenty of problems but I'm not giving up the hope of happiness for cold comfort.
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Old 05-21-04, 02:15 AM
paulbf paulbf is offline
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Quote:
I'm not giving up the hope of happiness for cold comfort.
We decided maybe she's been forced to give up her dreams to accommodate me and I feel pressed to give up my dreams if I'm going to accomodate her so it's not going to work.

Maybe get back together some day, maybe continue to date each other...
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Old 05-21-04, 12:01 PM
waywardclam waywardclam is offline
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Owch.

Again, this is the same dilemma that my wife and I are facing.

I'd rather be happy and poor than miserable but middle class. She is the other way round.

At the moment it looks like our plan is for me to try and make enough money for her to get through school, at which point I will not work or work part time and pursue my dream of writing instead. I hope this works for us otherwise I'll be following you down your road too...

As for you... the one good thing I can say to you is cheers for knowing yourself and having the self esteem to stick up for yourself in the face of non-validation. If you do decide to stay with her, do not give that up... make it clear who you are and that while you might or might not be happy with that in different ways, you can't just flip a switch and become the person she wishes you were instead.
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Old 05-21-04, 12:20 PM
paulbf paulbf is offline
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Here's a couple songs for her (us)

Pink Floyd
Wish You Were Here

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue skys from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you to trade
Your heros for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a leading role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.


Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Nobody knows where you are,
How near or how far.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Pile on many more layers
And I'll be joining you there.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
And we'll bask in the shadow
Of yesterday's triumph,
And sail on the steel breeze.
Come on you boy child,
You winner and loser,
Come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine!
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