My husband wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until about six years into our marriage. Ohhhh how much frustration we could have avoided if that diagnosis had come sooner! We spent years battling it out — me trying to understand why my husband didn’t care about the things that mattered to me, him wondering what the big deal was. Some other time, I’ll write a serious blog about the hardships of marriage when one or both partners have undiagnosed ADHD. But today? Today, I’d like to keep it light. What’s the point of it all if we can’t laugh a little?
So, here are some funny things I’ve learned about having a spouse with ADHD:
#1. We can’t exist without a DOOM ROOM.
I remember when I learned about DOOM drawers. DOOM stands for Didn’t Organize, Only Moved. Basically, DOOM drawers for ADHD folks are like that one kitchen drawer we all have that acts as a catch-all for the kitchen detritus that no one knows where to put. Except, for ADHD folks, that drawer could contain literally anything. My husband’s ADHD is so enormous that it can’t be contained in a DOOM drawer. He needs a DOOM ROOM. So, we turned one of our walk-in closets into a DOOM ROOM just for him. It’s his space. He can keep it as clean … or as messy … as he wants. For the first few months after setting up the DOOM ROOM, I was so pleased! It was organized, everything in neartly labeled storage bins. He even had some decorations in there! But now, friends, there is literally a living room entertainment center in there. You can’t even walk in. The epitome of having an ADHD spouse, I think, is having a whole ass entertainment center shoved in a closet because “I didn’t know where else to put it!”
#2. Unfinished projects give the house flair!
When my husband installed the TV in our bedroom, he of course decided it needed to be mounted on the wall. He’s handy, God bless him, so he cut a small, rectangular shaped hole in the wall in order to run the cables from the thinga-ma-jig where the electricity is. It’s perfect! But friends, I shit you not, when my husband ran out out of time or attention (I’m never sure which of the two it is), he stuck a goddamn Magic Eraser in the rectangular hole he cut in the wall. I mean, I’ve kind of got to hand it to him, it fits perfectly. But, it’s still a Magic Eraser stuffed into our wall where a patch job should be. And it’s been there for over a year. These little mostly-finished projects are all over my house, and I think I’ve just learned to see them as artwork at this point.
#3. Even when it looks like he’s listening, he may not be listening.
This man can look me dead in my eyes, nod along with what I’m saying, and even respond to my words like he’s listening, and still be on a totally different planet. How do I know this? Because I will tell him an entire story, get his confirmation that he did, indeed, hear it, and then one literal second later I’ll add another relevant detail and it’s as if I’m telling a whole new story. Where were you just now? I’ll ask. Usually, I discover he was thinking about something he watched on YouTube earlier. I used to take offense to this, but I’ve learned that this is genuinely how his brain works. I now know that if it’s something important, I need to have him repeat it back to me. Also, I should probably write it down.
#4. He can go completely blind to something right in front of his face
The other day, my husband and I decided to do a house-cleaning blitz. We have a small apartment, so we can usually get the whole thing done in an hour or so when we put our minds to it. My husband’s job was the bedroom. He cleaned the whole thing to perfection, even taking the blinds off the windows, washing them all by hand, and cleaning the windows behind them! When he was done, I walked into the bedroom and, before my eyes could take in the beauty of our pristinely clean room, I saw it: this enormous, unsightly, almost 2-ft tall pile of mail scattered all over the top of our nightstand. And since the rest of the room was sparkling clean, it stood out like a sore thumb. I said, “Babe, really? What’s the plan with the mail over there?” THIS MAN said, “Oh! Oh my gosh, I didn’t see that! I’ll put it in the DOOM ROOM.” Sir? How did you not see that?! (I should also mention that one of the slats that goes over our blinds is still sitting on the window sill, which I think may be its new home).
#5. If we need to get out the door at a certain time, I need to get him started about 15 minutes before that.
It never fails. It is the literal last second before we have to leave, and my husband has just now decided he has a million things he needs to do before we can go. And listen, I’ve already got our children standing ready at the door, which is a feat all its own. It’s in those final seconds that he realizes he definitely can’t leave the house until he washes his glasses. While washing his glasses, he’ll notice that the drain seems to be a little clogged, so of course now is the perfect time to take care of that. But ope! We’re out of drain cleaner, so off to Amazon to place an order real quick. Only, oh no! The card on file on his Amazon account is expired and he never got around to putting the new one in, so everyone hold up for a sec while he takes care of that! All for the want of a clean pair of glasses, we arrive half an hour late to our destination.
#6. It’s never, ever, ever about me.
My lovely, sparkly readers who clicked on this article because your spouse has ADHD and you needed a relatable laugh, if there’s anything I can leave you with, it’s this: it’s never about you. It’s never about me. If my husband could have all this ducks in a row, if he had typical executive function skills, if his brain wasn’t constantly highjacking his consciousness to do its own bidding, he would never let me down. He wants to make me happy, wants to be attentive, and organized, and dependable. And truthfully, he has come so far in terms of learning strategies to help him be those things. But his ADHD is like a third member in our marriage — another person who demands his attention. In some ways, I’ll always be competing with his ADHD for his time, attention, and follow-through. But that’s never about me. Loving my husband has meant learning not to take it personally, to find the humor in it all, instead. Besides, his ADHD gives him some amazing super powers that I benefit from, too! He is literally obsessed with me, which is pretty great. Hyper-fixation has its benefits, after all! He is a loving and playful father, finding the fun and spontaneity in what would have been the mundane. He studies up on anything I’m interested in, becoming an expert on it just so that he can talk about it with me in a way that is engaging and interesting. So, now that I think about it, maybe it is about me in some ways. But only in the best possible ways.
Being the partner of a spouse with ADHD can be trying sometimes, but it can also be loads of fun! Learning to find the humor in it all has been the saving grace of our marriage. I love my fun, chaotic, dependable, easily-distractible ADHD hubby.