Pulling together the latest version of my husband's resume, I couldn't help but find it dizzying how many jobs he has held over the 30+ years of his working life. Sure the recessions played a part in some of the sporadic history, but fact is, the greatest cause... ADHD.
Years earlier, when my oldest daughter was diagnosed with this attentiveness challenging "disorder" I began to dig and learn all I could on the topic so as to help her in the best ways possible. Combing through article after article I found a mixture of solace and overwhelmedness in how many attributes my husband carried as well. The normal 'distracted' tendencies weren't even the worst of it, it was also things like:
- Hyper-focused... to the point that he would block out everything and everyone else to a fault in order to keep doing whatever thing he was doing right then. For my husband, it was online gaming.
- Forgetfulness... and the worst part was blaming me or not taking me seriously upon reminders.
- Impulsiveness... whether it was purchasing something, interrupting, eating or jumping to do something before everyone was ready.
- Easily bored and then impatient... this not only plays out in quickly growing tiered of a hum-drum activity with me and/or the kids but it also manifests the most in his dissatisfaction with jobs. Within anywhere from 2 weeks on up to 5 months he begins to go stir crazy and desperate to find a way out. His other ADHD attributes often make him difficult to get along with at work which further exasperates the situation.
- A constant need for stimulation... he can hardly ever just sit and BE. The quiet activities the rest of us would like to do we often end up exploring without my husband
- Overwhelmingly "independent"... or simply, he is a loner and, in every job or volunteer situation, he sees every way he wants to do it differently (or, sometimes "better") and can't seem to just go with the flow.
- An alternative self-image from what everyone else sees and experiences... which can lead to arguments when he doesn't understand why everyone is upset with him because, in his mind, he didn't say or do anything wrong.
These are the key points which have adversely affected my marriage from the beginning. Attributes which, until my daughter's diagnoses, I just considered annoying personality quarks. We would find ourselves in many arguments and often at odds over the simplest things. I knew something had to change.
1st - I got my eyes firmly fixed on Christ. It may seem cliche, but seriously. Being consumed in God's Word and commands of how we ought to navigate difficult relationships, including the marriage, helped me to find balance and peace in the midst of trying situations with my husband.
2nd - With my eyes firmly fixed, I began to walk out what I learned. I practiced (and continue to try and practice) love and grace without recompense. This alone began to alter my responses to his various sporadic behaviors.
- I quit nagging on him when he would game to all hours.
- I didn't get upset if he left halfway through a slow movie.
- When he forgot something I told him, I calmly reminded him.
- When he still didn't remember and began to grow frustrated, I dropped it
- I chose peace over being proven right.
- I chose grace over gratification
We also made a deal where the jobs were concerned... he has to have another job lined up before he can quit the one he is at and, at the very least, it has to have the same pay. He has stuck firm to this agreement because, despite his often inattentive behaviour, he really does love us very much and wants to take care of us. Here I cling tightly to God's Word when it reminds me that God has gifted my husband to be the head of the family. I have every right to make suggestions and weigh in on subjects, but at the end of the day, my job isn't to be right or get my way... it is to obey God by submitting whole-heartedly to my husband's decisions. GOD KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING in and for and through my husband. I must trust. Even when it doesn't make sense or seems like a worse situation.
So, I update resumes, prepare for schedule changes and show love and grace to my husband as he knows he has the freedom to be him while also taking care of us. At times, in the past, I have also needed to grab some side-work to supplement... cleaning houses, babysitting and other odds and end trades through the years. In the end, we fight much much less and I enjoy my marriage so much more (I'm certain he does as well)!
It isn't an easy life, being married to ADHD. But when I remember the relentless, grace-overflowing love Christ issues to each one of us and then calls us to love each other with... how can I not devote my energy to simply loving my husband, crazy ADHD-all-over-the-place and all!
No matter your marriage dynamics, I pray God's grace and mercy and peace flow through you to your spouse... that the two of you can know more fullness and joy in your marriage, regardless of whatever else may be going on around you.