How to elicit troubleshooting discussion in marriage?
November 1, 2017 9:31 AM   Subscribe

A small thing has exploded into a huge thing. I need help figuring this out please.

So, my marriage has had major problems but we had some sort of breakthrough and things were great. Until yesterday. Spouse did something small that made a problem for me, interfering with quality time with my son. I was urgent about it because time with my son matters to me. Spouse misinterpreted my tone as anger. I spent about 4 hours calmly and patiently asking to sort it out so that the thing that happened would be less likely to happen in the future. (Poor planning and poor communication which resulted in a schedule problem)

Spouse was resistant and very angry. Finally after 4 hours trying to keep things in a positive space I gave up and now we are in a toxic place where he is ignoring me and I am trying to focus on my life when my emotions want me to fixate on the conflict. When I gave up, he started trying to cooperate more but at that point I didn't want to. I just wanted him to demonstrate some understanding of the issue. And I wanted him to fix whatever made him wait until I gave up to try because that's lame.

My question is how do I encourage the sort of proactive troubleshooting conversation I was trying to have? To him, I expressed myself, he thinks my position is illogical, does not see the bigger picture of multiple instances where his lack of planning, foresight or proactive communication has caused unpleasant consequences. I'm not being mean about it or shaming but I would like for fewer of these problems to happen so to me that means him understanding why it is an issue and being willing to collaborate to find solutions. He's just flat not doing that. He is lashing out, implying I'm delusional and just generally being really avoidant and childish.

I'm not looking for "therapy" answers because I know that might help although in our case it made things worse. I'm looking for practical ways to encourage proactive, solution focused conversation with someone who is terrified of conflict and carrying toxic shame. I thought four hours of calm effort would work and it didn't and I'm feeling hopeless.
posted by What a Joke to Human Relations (24 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Spouse misinterpreted my tone as anger. I spent about 4 hours calmly and patiently asking to sort it out so that the thing that happened would be less likely to happen in the future.

If this is a repeated thing then I would say "like I said, I'm annoyed but not angry" and don't spend a lot of effort trying to convince him otherwise. He has to manage his own reactions. It doesn't sound like he trusts you, and that's a deeper problem that requires much more detail than you can probably provide in an AskMe.

Unless you're misrepresenting this, it sounds like you're doing all the work. Have you read the threads on emotional labor? A four hour conversation to get an adult to put an appointment on a calendar (or whatever) is ridiculous. I don't understand how it could go on that long; that should require about 20 minutes to solve and I would exit the conversation after that long and come back around later. If he's that terrified of conflict, it sounds like he needs therapy for himself.
posted by AFABulous at 9:47 AM on November 1, 2017 [12 favorites]


unpleasant consequences

Does he not see the consequences?
posted by AFABulous at 9:49 AM on November 1, 2017


Spouse misinterpreted my tone as anger. I spent about 4 hours calmly and patiently asking to sort it out so that the thing that happened would be less likely to happen in the future.

From what you say, it sounds like the main issue may be one of timing. It sounds like you tried to have this troubleshooting conversation at a time when your husband was angry, and when he thought you were angry. He may have interpreted your attempts as a form of fighting. "How can we make sure this doesn't happen again?" can sound like "How about we focus even more on how much you upset me?" when you're already feeling angry.

Does this sort of conversation work under other circumstances? Do you think that you could raise the topic and have a good conversation about it, at a time when both of you are starting out not angry?
posted by meese at 9:56 AM on November 1, 2017 [10 favorites]


There's a lot of corporate speak in your question which makes me wonder about how communication is going in your home. Here are my thoughts based on what you posted (and that it's you asking, I would have different thoughts for your spouse.)

"Spouse did something small that made a problem for me, interfering with quality time with my son. I was urgent about it because time with my son matters to me."

I think if it's small you kind of have to let it go. Assuming 18 years of childrearing, a good partnership with your spouse is much, much more important than one night of quality time with your child, unless it was an extraordinary circumstance like you are leaving for three weeks. However, assuming that it was something needed to be addressed immediately:

"I spent about 4 hours calmly and patiently asking to sort it out so that the thing that happened would be less likely to happen in the future."

Don't ever do this again. That's a lot of emotional labour for no result. If you can't reach a solution quickly then set aside time to talk about it later (in your mind) and walk away. What it means is that one of you is too entrenched or upset to talk right then and it's not going to be productive. (It may not be later either, but at least you will have 3.75 hrs of your life back.)

"To him, I expressed myself, he thinks my position is illogical, does not see the bigger picture of multiple instances where his lack of planning, foresight or proactive communication has caused unpleasant consequences. I'm not being mean about it or shaming but I would like for fewer of these problems to happen so to me that means him understanding why it is an issue and being willing to collaborate to find solutions. He's just flat not doing that."

Have a look at this sentence.

He's not going to do it. You are going to have unpleasant consequences. I mean...until he's ready to listen and work with you as a partner, that's kind of the bottom line. You can continue to tap dance circles around him every night but he's not doing it.

Probably the best you can do is schedule a date to talk about this when you've both calmed down. You can say what you see as the consequences, and really listen to him if those consequences are a shared priority. For example, if my husband put my child to bed and I don't get to see him, there's a consequence for me that is negative (no time with child) but there's a potential positive consequence (more/better sleep for child). Then see if you can't at least agree on something like texting each other first.

I have a husband who doesn't always plan or communicate especially when he's stressed out, and I get, get, get the anger about it. At the same time I will offer that my particular husband is still a good dad and partner and this is one of those things where I still think my way is better and a couple of times a month I end up appalled at the kids' not having gotten dinner until late or whatever it is. In the context of our particular family, it's not a dealbreaker. He has gotten better. I have learned that two late dinners a month is not tragic.

In yours, it may be a dealbreaker. If so I recommend Harriet Lerner's "The Dance of Connection" on how to have dealbreaker conversations; it's a good resource for this kind of thing.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:58 AM on November 1, 2017 [23 favorites]


In my marraige, if I feel like I'm beating my head against a brick wall (four hours!!!) It is best for me to walk away until we have both cooled off. Persistence only serves to cause us both to dig in deeper to our positions, rational or not.

When we are in a better headspace the conversations are much easier. Perhaps a cooling off period would help.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:00 AM on November 1, 2017 [8 favorites]


Space. Give him space. Go do something nice for yourself by yourself. Put on an outfit you like, if you're into that, go do something that you know will quell the anxiety and frustration for now. (Can you get a babysitter for the kids?). You need to leave him alone. He's probably terrified the forward progression you have made is erased, he probably feels overwhelmed and ashamed. I am sure he feels angry with himself that four hours of discussion couldn't fix things, and is at this point refusing to do anything. You are right and he is wrong, obviously, but you need to carry things for a bit on you own and just let him come to you. He'll come around.
posted by karmachameleon at 10:01 AM on November 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


Does he not see the consequences?

He has executive functioning issues, so he sees them when they explode in his face but has difficulty seeing cause and effect of the same behavior in different situations. Like waiting to call family member until he is outside their house, leaving him and the kids sitting in the car for 30 minutes waiting to find out if cousins can play, is a variation on the same theme as waiting until he has already arrived somewhere unusual with my son when I only have 1.5 hours of time I can see my son all day, not factoring in travel time and traffic and such.

Perhaps what I want him to understand is beyond his capabilities due to said executive dysfunction but man, I sure wish he could/would try. I keep thinking once he gets it then X problem won't keep happening but maybe I'm unrealistic.
posted by What a Joke at 10:03 AM on November 1, 2017


I only have 1.5 hours of time I can see my son all day

This is a very painful thing. Don't worry though, you're not a bad parent for missing one day with him. Remember, you will have your son with you for the rest of your life. This was a painful instance but you will have plenty of time to make it up to him. And if it's executive function issues, it's no wonder that you are frustrated. He's probably frustrated too, but if you're the only person able to put in the effort to solve a two person problem (right now), don't do that to yourself. I'd still stand by the cooling off idea though. Come to him later (later later, once you are both really cooled down) and tell him that you want to re-plan your lives, like really rip up the foundation and put down a new one, so you can see your son more. That's all you can do, right?
posted by karmachameleon at 10:09 AM on November 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm not looking for "therapy" answers because I know that might help although in our case it made things worse.

I think that you could both use some individual therapy, rather than couples, and I think it even more having remembered and re-read your previous question.

Good lord the breakups I've seen that might have been so different, had one or both (separately) of the couple sat down with a professional a few times and reviewed all the emotional baggage and bad habits that they'd accrued over their lives so far, and how it was impacting them and their loved ones.

I really feel for you. There is so much pain in two people loving each other but being unable to get past things like this. This song says it all (both musically and lyrically, god bless her genius). It's so hard. I wish you luck.
posted by greenish at 10:25 AM on November 1, 2017 [4 favorites]


What jumped out at me was that he seized on "your anger" as the problem instead of whatever it was that he did. And defending yourself against the charge of "being angry" derailed you for four hours.

In future maybe skip the step of denying that you're angry (of course you're angry, I'm angry just reading this, but so what? He's the one who screwed up) and say "don't attack me, I'm not the one who screwed up. Yes I am angry, I'm angry that you did this thing, stop talking about me, and start talking about how you're going to not cause this problem again."
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:28 AM on November 1, 2017 [20 favorites]


When I gave up, he started trying to cooperate more but at that point I didn't want to.

From your previous question, it sounds like he's conflict avoidant in general. Next time you find yourself butting up against a wall, don't wear yourself out hammering against it. Just walk away. Maybe he'll be ready to work on it more quickly if he gets some space to process. At the very least, 4 hours later when he's finally ready* you won't be burnt out.

It may not be fair that you're stuck addressing things on his time scale, but it seems like that's the only choice you're left with if you're going to be in a relationship with him.

Also, it's ok if you get angry with him for screwing something up. It wouldn't be ok to belittle him etc, but if someone's actions negatively impact you, anger is an understandable emotion. You being angry doesn't retroactively excuse his mistake.

*That's assuming he was genuinely willing to have a discussion at that point rather than sensing your fatigue and pretending to be ready so he wasn't the only bad guy. If he constantly throws up a wall even after some decompression time, then you're not really ever going to be able to address the issues because he's obviously not willing to.
posted by ghost phoneme at 10:34 AM on November 1, 2017 [3 favorites]


fingersandtoes

I would love to try that approach but spouse is a big fan of denial and just shuts down and withdraws if denial, minimizing or blame shifting don't work on me. So I have learned to just make very few complaints, bolstered by lots and lots of praise. So it's really disheartening to see the hoops I jump through were not enough for him to just hear that there was a problem, apologize, offer solutions or willingness to participate in my own effort to find solutions, and then move on. He becomes deeply committed to proving me wrong, discounting my perspective etc, and if I point out it is a shame issue he just pretends not to hear that. It's exhausting for both of us.

Sorry to threadsit. Unless clarification is requested I won't do that again.
posted by What a Joke at 10:38 AM on November 1, 2017 [4 favorites]


I don't know about parenting but I do know about problem solving in a relationship with a partner who has a form of cognitive dysfunction. Boy, do I know the frustrating and upsetting feeling of feeling like the other person should be able to be a full partner to you, and they are not, and you're having a very hard time sorting out what is the hard limit of his brain and what is just him failing to step up and be a real partner to you in the way that you want. I am so sympathetic. That feeling is awful.

But you are not, not ever, going to figure that out right in the middle of the heated moment. I agree with others above that 3.5 hours of that 4 hour conversation was doomed. That would have been a great time to agree to take a break from the conversation, go do something nice for yourselves, and come back to a discussion about the bigger pattern some other time.

I also agree that individual therapy would be great. It is really helpful to have someone else who is on your side who can a) help you see some patterns and maybe help distinguish what is dysfunction and what is not, and b) who you can just rant to guilt-free when that I want an actual partner feeling gets bad.

I hope that at some point when you are both calmer, a discussion about the broader pattern can happen. It sounds like you're trying to jump to "let's collaborate on a solution" while he's not yet at "I agree there's a problem", so I think that's probably the place to start. What's his perception of all of this when he's not feeling cornered/yelled at? Can you get him to agree that he would feel put out if you were doing some analogous thing that cuts into something he doesn't get to do much of and feels strongly about? Can you ask him to think of it in terms of your son's POV - he's got limited time with his mom and he's spending 30 minutes of it trapped in the car - rather than yours, if that helps get him where you want him to be? Can he explain why "this is a thing that I am really upset about" isn't enough all by itself for him to agree that it's a problem? It's frustrating that you should have to dig in on this first step when you want to get to solution-finding, but realistically, if he can't get to that point, you're not going to find a workable solution, so I would start there.

But I would also suggest, from my experience as a partner of someone with cognitive issues, that you may also want to spend some time thinking about "if this turns out to be something that just isn't going to change, what can I do unilaterally to make this better for myself?" Is there something like a work or daycare schedule that could be shifted to give you more time with your kid? Something your husband could take over in lieu of child-ferrying that he might be more reliable at and/or that would affect you less if he doesn't follow through the way you'd want? Could you throw money at the problem, if hiring a babysitter or housecleaner or something would be feasible and buy you time with your kid? Can you plan some nice treats for yourself that you can indulge in on short notice you find yourself with that annoying half hour of waiting-for-your-kid so that time can be special for you in some other way - a bubble bath, a favorite snack, a phone call to a friend you miss talking to, a favorite TV show, something?

Depending on the causes of your partner's dysfunction, if it happens to be something that has peaks and troughs, that would also be something to consider. You may not be able to have the conversation you want to have when things are bad, but perhaps when his brain is on a more even keel it would be productive to have a conversation about "this is how it goes for me when you are not doing as well as you are right now, it really sucks, can you give me any insight into how I can approach you in the worse times to get results that are good for both of us and for our son?"
posted by Stacey at 10:44 AM on November 1, 2017 [3 favorites]


Spouse did something small that made a problem for me, interfering with quality time with my son. I was urgent about it because time with my son matters to me. Spouse misinterpreted my tone as anger. I spent about 4 hours calmly and patiently asking to sort it out so that the thing that happened would be less likely to happen in the future...

..I'm not being mean about it or shaming but I would like for fewer of these problems to happen so to me that means him understanding why it is an issue and being willing to collaborate to find solutions.


You're talking about your husband like he's one of your more mediocre coworkers. Can you see that in this question? My gut feeling here is that you are not expressing yourself as calmly and articulately as you believe. Which isn't meant as an attack - it's really, really hard to be calm and articulate and fair when you're upset.

Three pieces of advice:

* There's not much value in hashing out something like this right in the heat of the moment. It sounds like you weren't looking for a solution to this specific problem, but instead wanted to hash out a better way of doing things so that future mix-ups don't happen. It's much, much better to have those conversations after the fact. Next time, you should wait a day or two and then bring up what happened and some ideas for avoiding similar mix-ups going forward.

* Use lots of collaborative language when you talk about these problems. It's not that your husband caused a problem for you, it's that the two of you didn't communicate as well as you should have. Own your share of the responsibility - even if you secretly believe it was like 1% your fault - and your husband will be more open to talking.

* You say you're not being mean or shaming him. Do you think he sees it that way? Does he know you appreciate him in general? People are a lot more receptive to criticism if they also receive positive feedback. Doesn't have to be a "compliment-criticism-compliment" sandwich or anything, but make sure you're saying nice things to him, not just complaints!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 10:47 AM on November 1, 2017 [6 favorites]


I found that this blog post blew this issue wide open in my marriage.

Full disclosure: we are no longer together.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 10:49 AM on November 1, 2017 [11 favorites]


"when I only have 1.5 hours of time I can see my son all day"

Slightly tangential here but I have been in your position in terms of hours and I just want to encourage you to remember also the weekend hours in your emotional calculation.

I had one child that just plain needed to go to bed at 6:30 pm and just plain needed to sleep in to about 7 am for almost a year. I actually sat down and calculated the hours on a weekly basis and then looked at them as waking hours (because if I'd had afternoons with the same child, he would have been asleep for 2 of them, etc.)

Said child also is now 12 and we have had and continue to have lots of time together. I am still greedy for more but it does get better. We're super bonded.

All that said, I do hope your husband gets to a place where he can think through what each of those precious hours means to you and support that with alarms on his phone, etc. etc. But hang in there, it sounds like you have a very little one.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:18 AM on November 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


I hope this isn't too therapy / woo focused, but I wonder if the resistance to therapy-focused answers might be blinding yourself to some solutions? My spouse has ADHD and while we're childless, there are a ton of projects we collaborate on and the situation here sounds so familiar.

My heart goes out to both of you! It's frustrating - from both sides, I think.

The way you talk about this is so familiar to me - if my spouse's inability to schedule/anticipate/plan affects me, I sometimes enter Project Manager mode. A super Vulcan, logical state.

From what my spouse says, this state can feel very distancing and phony. I can see that. This is NOT to say that the situation is my fault, but it does help me realize that I have *emotion* behind my desire to *solve.* And that expressing that emotion can lead to authentic connection and understanding.

Here are some things that work for me / for us:

I get angry. Do you ever do this? What if in this situation you were like, "Damn, baby, I'm frustrated! I look forward to this time, and what you did prevented me from getting it. Man, I am frustrated with you." I sprinkle in some true reassurances ("I need some time to be angry about this - I won't be angry with you a couple hours from now." or "I love you and I'm also angry with you right now. I'm gonna be angry for a minute and let's talk about this later.") I don't want to map this emotion onto you if you weren't angry, but if you have any problems feeling or expressing anger, this might be something to keep a gentle eye on. Are you frustrated or annoyed with your partner? That's anger! :)

I have options. I can be angry, and express it. I can be angry, and decide not to express it right away, but in a couple hours. I can be angry, and take a bath, feel the anger, and not express it out loud, but still feel it. I can be angry, feel the anger, and come to my partner with it in a couple weeks, when I'm calmer.

I recognize that my partner is UNABLE to see the things I can - People with ADHD / executive functioning issues often partner with people who are the exact opposite of that - high high high functioning people. This is definitely my situation. I'm *incredibly* good at planning, seeing the big picture and all the details, knowing how to accomplish goals. My partner CANNOT do these things a lot of the time. I see him trying, it's not for lack of effort. But it's like asking someone who can't speak French to try really hard at speaking French.

As a person who can always see the cause and effect of every action - to an exhausting degree - it is soooooo hard for me to empathize with the idea that someone is not able to do this. It's like saying, "I have trouble remembering to breathe sometimes." The thing that helps me is truly taking my partner's word for it - I cannot do this thing. It helps to hear, "I love you, I'm your partner, but I cannot do the thing you're asking of me."

I remember I am partnered with this person for a reason When we're in good mental states, my partner and I balance each other out beautifully. I'm the type-A planner, he's the chill mad scientist. He softens my hard edges and provides a truly calming safe space for me; I gently encourage him to get (some) shit done. I wonder if that's the same for you? Remind yourself of that in these moments.

Individual therapy My partner and I tried couples therapy and it was fucking annoying. We have made the greatest strides through individual therapy - he through working through some deep-seated shame issues as well as specific techniques to help with anxiety and ADHD, me through learning to let go, be calmer, kinder to myself and others, less anxiety-driven.

Thinking of y'all, best wishes!
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 12:00 PM on November 1, 2017 [16 favorites]


+1 for finding ways to work around issues that don't seem like they will change otherwise. We all have that one friend who gets told Event starts an hour early, so they show up on time with everyone else
posted by Jacen at 12:12 PM on November 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


I remember your previous question.

Bottom line is that the man does not respect you. Flat out. What you think, feel, and want are immaterial to him. His fear and shame take precedence over anything that you ask of him. He will not relinquish control.

You cannot fix this. You cannot "nice" him into respecting you. You cannot logic him into apologizing to you.

Stop making excuses for him. He may well have executing functioning issues, but that is not an excuse to be a cruel and insensitive asshole.
posted by Sublimity at 4:47 PM on November 1, 2017 [8 favorites]


Even accepting that your relationship and his entire personhood cannot be captured in the context of AskMe questions, your description of how your spouse reacts to you here is heartbreaking.

"Spouse did something small that made a problem for me, interfering with quality time with my son."
"Spouse misinterpreted my tone as anger."

Okay, those I can accept as potential issues of executive function. Then there's...

"Spouse was resistant and very angry."

Maybe even that is part of executive function difficulty, though I think it is acceptable to expect married, adult parents to attempt better coping skills. However, the rest:

"He is ignoring me."
"When I gave up, he started trying to cooperate more..."
"To him, I expressed myself, he thinks my position is illogical, does not see the bigger picture of multiple instances where his lack of planning, foresight or proactive communication has caused unpleasant consequences."
"He is lashing out, implying I'm delusional and just generally being really avoidant and childish."
"Spouse is a big fan of denial and just shuts down and withdraws if denial, minimizing or blame shifting don't work on me."
"He becomes deeply committed to proving me wrong, discounting my perspective etc., and if I point out it is a shame issue he just pretends not to hear that."

... these behaviors don't strike me as having anything at all to do with his executive function. You say he is conflict averse but those are behaviors designed to provoke it. I see gaslighting. I see contempt.

I mean, after all of that, your question is what can you do differently? You identify that you are jumping through hoops already and his behavior is not changing. Again, even accepting the fact that this is your account is biased, compare your behavior to his:

"I was urgent about it because time with my son matters to me."
"I spent about 4 hours calmly and patiently asking to sort it out so that the thing that happened would be less likely to happen in the future."
"...I am trying to focus on my life when my emotions want me to fixate on the conflict."
"I'm not being mean about it or shaming..."
"Perhaps what I want him to understand is beyond his capabilities due to said executive dysfunction but man, I sure wish he could/would try."
"I keep thinking once he gets it then X problem won't keep happening but maybe I'm unrealistic."
"I thought four hours of calm effort would work and it didn't and I'm feeling hopeless."

No. Nothing you do, nothing you say, no amount of time/love/effort you devote, will change the behavior that generated his list above until he is interested in changing it. He has made it clear that he is not and you say therapy is not an option, so unless you are prepared to leave the relationship, this is the relationship you have and are modeling for your kid. Rather than trying to change who your spouse is, focus your efforts on damage control and helping your child unlearn demonstrated patterns and be exposed to better ways to cope. The solution is not to add more eggshells for you to step on and to further prune yourself and your personality away to nothingness.

I don't want to end sounding so dire, but it is hard to read your questions and responses reiterating the thinking that something you do or say can change your spouse. It can't. I hope you are able to find a peaceful path.
posted by juliplease at 6:26 PM on November 1, 2017 [9 favorites]


He becomes deeply committed to proving me wrong, discounting my perspective etc, and if I point out it is a shame issue he just pretends not to hear that

His psyche is not in the class of things you can be objectively right about - you're speculating, not pointing anything out. He doesn't have to prove you're wrong about shame underpinning his fuckups, he can just tell you you're wrong and you have to accept it. ignoring a comment like that is a more mature and restrained response to it than many people would manage.

My question is how do I encourage the sort of proactive troubleshooting conversation I was trying to have?


don't ever try to bring his "shame" into a discussion. I think you already came to this conclusion, but I mean ever, not just when fighting. the first step is not to tell him you think you can read his mind, but the second stop is not to believe it, either. really -- I am stressing this because you allude to therapy making things worse; your question is saturated with therapy language and if you talk to him in a similar way, it may be a key to some of the unproductive interactions. (Though nothing to do with and no excuse for his initial failures, whatever they may have been.) If your theory about "toxic shame" is not just speculation but based on things he disclosed in couples therapy at some point, it is even more ultra necessary not to ever try to bring that into an argument unless he does first.

I believe you that the faults in action/inaction are mostly on his side, maybe exclusively on his side, but the communication problem are on both sides: four hours of talking at someone who is not participating with you in the effort is not reasonable under any circumstances, and if you were as calm as you represent it, it's even weirder. Small violations warrant small discussions. if he is going to ignore you anyway, it will at least waste less of your time. Nobody with serious memory/concentration/executive function issues is going to retain the important bullet points from a nonstop four-hour session of anything, even if he were trying to.

and...you asked how to have better problem-solving conversations, not whether you should leave him. but if he's not trying to fix his problems or does not agree that he has these problems, you will not be able to make him.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:37 PM on November 1, 2017 [4 favorites]


oh well your update about executive dysfunction changes things and as a person formerly married to someone with ADHD, I agree with 90% of Uncle Glendinning's comment. My ex would frequently perceive me as angry and belittling when I was merely annoyed and trying to problem-solve.

Does he recognize that he has executive dysfunction? Is he getting treatment for whatever is causing it? ADHD meds made such a huge difference on our marriage, and it fell apart when he stopped taking them regularly. But in line with juliplease's comment, my therapist stressed that ADHD is not a mood disorder and my ex's angry outbursts should not be excused by it.

My comment still stands - it's fruitless to spend that much time on an issue, especially when he's upset. My situation took a lot of "babysitting" since I was the responsible planner. If I really needed him to do something, it was up to me to hold his hand. As long as I was willing to play that role, we were fine, and he was meeting me halfway by taking his medication. Like I said, it fell apart when he stopped trying and I became resentful of having to do most of the mental overhead.

So, in light of the update, I would ask yourself whether you're willing to take on more responsibility, with the payoff of more time with your child. This might be reminding him (multiple times a day!) that he needs to call you when he leaves. Set alarms for him, put notes in the car; you'll have to figure out what actually works, and it won't work 100%. It has to be right in front of his face. However, he's got to be open to this approach, or he'll be resentful at being "nagged" and feel ashamed he can't do it on his own. If he's not able to accept his own limitations, and your help, this won't work.
posted by AFABulous at 9:57 AM on November 2, 2017


Oh I just read your last question. Disregard the above. Get a lawyer and start planning.
posted by AFABulous at 10:01 AM on November 2, 2017 [6 favorites]


Dude. You recently asked a question about your marriage, which quite frankly, sounds atrocious and absolutely miserable. You don't have to live this way. I know (because I have been in your position) that divorce sounds awful, insurmountable, and like a personal failure. But I promise you, divorce is none of those things — it is freedom. I am recently divorced, and my only regret is that I spent so many years in a terrible marriage for no reason, when I could have been single and free the whole time. It will be very hard during the divorce process, but you will find immeasurable relief on the other side. You can be happy, if you are willing to make that leap of faith.
posted by a strong female character at 7:21 PM on November 9, 2017 [2 favorites]


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