Husband won't change his phone settings so I can reach him in an emergency

Sideways

Moderator
For some people blowing up another person’s phone is the normal order of things, whilst for others it had better be an emergency.
Man this resonates.

The phone ringing is a stressor for me. When I exchange numbers with a person, or business, I tell them very clearly that I prefer text or email.

They get a second warning if they start calling for non-emergency situations.

Third time? There's very few personal or professional relationships that have survived that. One exception is a guy with ptsd who is me in reverse - he can't do texts - and we bumble through as best we can.

I know other folks who don't get it. My dad. He's not down with text-etiquette (like if you text someone a question, hang around for the response 🤦🏼‍♀️).

A lot of people I know are just, Meh! Text, call, shrug, it ain't a thang.

But I know so many people for whom it's a really big thing, like panic attack territory, for all different reasons, and with all different requirements, that it's something to be aware of.

Mobile phones don't necessarily have to suddenly make us available 24/7. Even to loved ones. Do Not Disturb is a clear message: please don't call me right now.

There's an element of basic respect going on there. When you're in a close relationship with someone, and you know this is a big deal for them? You do what you can to accommodate it. And in mutually loving, caring, supportive relationships? That comes pretty naturally.

If stuff like that isn't only not coming naturally, but is just another in a long line of day to day issues that are causing major friction? The question has to be asked, why am I continuing to invest in a relationship that is making me miserable?
 

joeylittle

Administrator
@HealingMama - what's emerging for me, reading the thread is - the two of you need to learn how to communicate, together. You'd both benefit from having a space where you could speak honestly about the baggage each of you has with the other - those resentments that build up over time, the misunderstandings, hurtful words and actions, etc. Even if the both of you were completely mentally healthy, with no symptoms from individual disorders flaring up - the relationship has taken a lot of damage, and having a neutral third party - marriage counselor - could help you both establish a working communication structure.

Communication isn't automatic, and the true sign of a. good relationship isn't that the communication is easy - it's that the communication is effective. How each of you says things, what you choose to not say, how each of you listens, the assumptions that can come from not listening fully...there's a lot to unpack. And - there are events in your shared history that have never been fully unpacked.

Couples counseling isn't for everyone, and I think it's essential to research the various frameworks and do your best to pick a therapist together, one with a framework that resonates for you both.

If you want to. do it without a counselor - maybe consider finding a workbook the two of you can do together. Something that puts you on equal footing.

But honestly - based on the info you've shared, it's hard for me to imagine that a couple like the two of you - one where where both individuals are living day-to-day with chronic mental health issues - would be capable of running your own relational workshop without a third party.

The two of you need a vocabulary, you need parameters, you need to understand individual responsibility within the relationship. You both need to do work on this. I really do think it could make a huge difference.
 

HealingMama

Sponsor
@HealingMama - what's emerging for me, reading the thread is - the two of you need to learn how to communicate, together. You'd both benefit from having a space where you could speak honestly about the baggage each of you has with the other - those resentments that build up over time, the misunderstandings, hurtful words and actions, etc. Even if the both of you were completely mentally healthy, with no symptoms from individual disorders flaring up - the relationship has taken a lot of damage, and having a neutral third party - marriage counselor - could help you both establish a working communication structure.

Communication isn't automatic, and the true sign of a. good relationship isn't that the communication is easy - it's that the communication is effective. How each of you says things, what you choose to not say, how each of you listens, the assumptions that can come from not listening fully...there's a lot to unpack. And - there are events in your shared history that have never been fully unpacked.

Couples counseling isn't for everyone, and I think it's essential to research the various frameworks and do your best to pick a therapist together, one with a framework that resonates for you both.

If you want to. do it without a counselor - maybe consider finding a workbook the two of you can do together. Something that puts you on equal footing.

But honestly - based on the info you've shared, it's hard for me to imagine that a couple like the two of you - one where where both individuals are living day-to-day with chronic mental health issues - would be capable of running your own relational workshop without a third party.

The two of you need a vocabulary, you need parameters, you need to understand individual responsibility within the relationship. You both need to do work on this. I really do think it could make a huge difference.
Thanks. We have tried it four times. He doesn't remember to use the tools between sessions (and I probably don't remember to as well as I think I do).

Believe it or not I can sit him down with the Imago dialogue worksheet and he will do it. He will be on board with it. But taking the lead constantly is hard, and i'm not really wired for it sometimes (when I am organized in certain ways). If I could really just accept that everything will follow my lead and feel ok with that, it would work better. But I get stuck in expectations and wanting things to be fair etc.

We know lots of tools. We just struggle to use them. It's all on my shoulders to remember what we are both supposed to do from therapy homework. I can't always do that, I have to also just be a person and be led somewhere sometimes.

I see others have things to say and I'm listening but I can't reply right now. It's hard to even come back here after the shame attacks I had.

I appreciate that most of you are trying to help me, or us. I am in the middle of a huge transformation and trying not to make any big decisions til I know who I am on the other side of it.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks. We have tried it four times. He doesn't remember to use the tools between sessions (and I probably don't remember to as well as I think I do).

Believe it or not I can sit him down with the Imago dialogue worksheet and he will do it. He will be on board with it. But taking the lead constantly is hard, and i'm not really wired for it sometimes (when I am organized in certain ways). If I could really just accept that everything will follow my lead and feel ok with that, it would work better. But I get stuck in expectations and wanting things to be fair etc.

We know lots of tools. We just struggle to use them. It's all on my shoulders to remember what we are both supposed to do from therapy homework. I can't always do that, I have to also just be a person and be led somewhere sometimes.

I see others have things to say and I'm listening but I can't reply right now. It's hard to even come back here after the shame attacks I had.

I appreciate that most of you are trying to help me, or us. I am in the middle of a huge transformation and trying not to make any big decisions til I know who I am on the other side of it.
Earlier on in a post you mentioned that he was the only person you have been able to love and be in relationship with, and you wondered if you would ever be able to again. So I read fear of being on your own and fear of never finding love again.
But what about the flip side: what if you did? What if you found someone you were happy with and they happy with you?
What if you found happiness being single?
What if there was immense relief in just managing your life and not someone else's?

Staying with someone out of fear for the alternative is not a healthy reason to stay with someone.

I can imagine a lot of these posts (including this one), must be very jarring for you.
 

HealingMama

Sponsor
Earlier on in a post you mentioned that he was the only person you have been able to love and be in relationship with, and you wondered if you would ever be able to again. So I read fear of being on your own and fear of never finding love again.
But what about the flip side: what if you did? What if you found someone you were happy with and they happy with you?
What if you found happiness being single?
What if there was immense relief in just managing your life and not someone else's?

Staying with someone out of fear for the alternative is not a healthy reason to stay with someone.

I can imagine a lot of these posts (including this one), must be very jarring for you.
I'm a parent. I won't manage just my life for many years. (But it's different when it's an adult.) To his credit Friday he did all the cooking, cleaning and childcare so I could attend a gathering. He will do just about anything I ask, but I have to ask and may have to remind him.

I am happy when I am single but it's also a life half lived. I'm more avoidant and I am also numb and more dissociated when single. I'm happy because I'm not really feeling all of myself. No friction because I don't let anything in.

I've had relationships before. One I almost married. He was supposed to be a one night stand but he asked if he was now my boyfriend and I couldn't actually say no I want you to go home now. The rest of my relationships were avoidant, disconnected, walled off (on my end). I played "hard to get" but it wasn't a game. I was not fully engaged or invested and many were short lived by my own choice.

The other relationship I had after my first EMDR work had some of this neediness showing up, reassurance seeking etc, but I also recognized i was working harder than him and dumped him.

If love means I go batshit insane and fall apart, or miss red flags and get into something that isn't good for me, then I don't want it. I either figure this out or I give up.

No not happy but a lot of it I've done to myself. At least staying gives me a chance to learn how to be emotionally available.

@DharmaGirl I'm sorry you went through that. If mine regularly left the house at night, I'd like to think I'd leave him but apparently I will put up with almost anything.

@Freida if you were following me around correcting my thinking I would have a very different life. Good food for thought but I don't know how to make it stick.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Being single and those relationships were how you were in the past. You are you know, with all your knowledge of yourself and experience of life. Maybe there are future possibilities of how being single will be or how being in a different relationship will be?

I get it isn't easy thinking about all this and having a child. As decisions you make, to either stay together or separate, impact on them. And that's really hard.

I just wonder if there is some black and white thinking you are doing, which is limiting your thoughts about options you have?
 

JadeB.

MyPTSD Pro
Honestly, @HealingMama , after reading through this again, everything sounds exactly like what I've heard at Alanon meetings in the past. The only difference really is instead of talking about your husband using alcohol or drugs it's his ADD and other issues of his. And you sound like the classic codependent and enabler.

Have you ever read about codependency? if not it might be helpful to. Or maybe even check out a 12 step program.
 

HealingMama

Sponsor
Being single and those relationships were how you were in the past. You are you know, with all your knowledge of yourself and experience of life. Maybe there are future possibilities of how being single will be or how being in a different relationship will be?

I get it isn't easy thinking about all this and having a child. As decisions you make, to either stay together or separate, impact on them. And that's really hard.

I just wonder if there is some black and white thinking you are doing, which is limiting your thoughts about options you have?
Sure that's possible. But I also know that I am not in a position to walk away right now. When this issue first happened and my attachment was totally broken? Yeah, I could have then. If I could just have a weekend to deal with separating, moving stuff, that might work. But the way it is, it's not a quick thing, and could only be quick in a way that would not be fair to my child. Sure I could get a place and bring my son there but that would be even more change in a phase when my child is clearly sensitive to changes. If a change like that is going to happen then my spouse is the one that should leave. He has already told me in the past that he would not try to have 50/50 custody. He would move about 3 hours away. He'd probably see our child about once a month, if that much. So, I would not have any ongoing daily life support to pick up the slack during my trauma processing. Admittedly I don't have a ton of ongoing support as it is. But I also can't feel safe dipping into my non-maternal parts if I know all the parenting falls to me.

And who knows? Maybe he starts his own treatment and works through some things and can then see me more clearly. Maybe some of his poor functioning is actually from childhood trauma and neglect and reactions to those things. Maybe he can become more of a partner and realize how he's been acting himself. Who knows.

@JadeB. that is something a previous therapist said to me. She suggested Alanon. I actually tried to work the steps. Unfortunately supporting someone with ADHD isn't like addiction. Someone with ADHD doesn't learn from mistakes, and if they hit "rock bottom" and have severe, undermanaged ADHD with limited healthy coping skills, they won't "see the light" and seek treatment. They might want to but following through isn't guaranteed because ADHD impairs ability to make an appointment, to establish a new routine, to take meds consistently, to get meds when the bottle runs out, to remember what new behaviors they are trying to use, etc.

For someone like me who did not get learned helplessness about ADHD because I was programmed to achieve and had a bunch of people monitoring my symptoms and who never decided to just give up, sure I can self-motivate. I am terrified of the alternative, terrified of that black hole of hopelessness, so I push myself way more than basically anyone else I have ever met to the point of burnout, exhaustion and autoimmune conditions. Others push themselves only to their capacity and then stop and rest. I have only recently started to learn how to do that.

But someone who had severe adhd their whole life but was not diagnosed? So they just heard over and over they just need to "apply themselves" or "try harder" and lots of criticism? Who would do something and get an unexpected outcome, or sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't and they lacked the ability to figure out what was different between the two situations? They have a lot of barriers to deal with. It is a disability that is prone to moralizing, similar to how people judge alcoholics I guess. But it's still even less "moral" than that because an alcoholic can choose to pour out the drink in a moment of realization. A person with adhd may not have a moment of realization or if they do, it may disappear before they can act on it. (Kinda like me, I have moments of clarity where more cohesive action is possible but if I shift out of that personality organization before I can follow through then it's not accessible anymore, not in the same way at least.)

Having said that, it's still up to that person to try, if they have support then they have to face reality that they have a disability but are still responsible for managing it the best they can. But until treatment is optimized, they are acting with a disability. We don't say the wife of someone with MS who is in a wheelchair is enabling by getting things for them that are higher than their grabber tool can reach. But being with someone with severe ADHD is like that. I get caught up in not really knowing what my partner is capable of, so I react as if he is capable of things that he may not actually be able to do. Like, whenever we have company he becomes a different person, and I get in my feelings about that, feeling not good enough etc. But his brain is used to me, and not used to those other people. ADHD brains act different to something that is not novel, or especially interesting, and a person you live with for years can only be "interesting" in short bursts. It's possible that he just is not capable of treating me the way he did when I fell in love with him (which, based on how it feels to be around him when he is feeling like that towards anyone, would solve a lot of problems). And I do not want to accept that so I keep pushing. That is my own denial talking.

To approach it exactly like classic codependency is to be in denial about ADHD. Optimize treatment, develop strategies to counteract the symptoms, more severe cases it's more like being a caregiver than an enabler because the issue is one of capacity, although there can be correctible dysfunctional behaviors on top of that. My support group talks about needing power of attorney for their partners, and having to speak on behalf of the partner in medical situations because the partner will not report things accurately. I try to not get involved in that level - outside of his mental health treatment. When meds are not working or he is acting really different I tell the prescriber. I always include him in the info. People would consider that codependent but it's actually best practices for treating adhd to have "collateral contacts" because people with adhd can be low in self-awareness, not understand cause and effect of how med changes impact their behavior, can be optimally stimulated during the actual appt with the prescriber which results in not sharing important information that they might otherwise share. etc.

All of that said, I still need a line in the sand to know what point is too far to go, too much to hold, and I need to figure out how to make that line consistent across my self. It's very hard to have boundaries, when different parts of me want different things, and when I do not always know what parts are interacting with the world. That's what therapy is for... to have more internal understanding and cooperation so maybe one day I can have a family meeting with the people in my head and say look guys this is toxic, we tried everything, you over there are in charge of comforting this child part who is going to be devastated when we end things, you over there are in charge of parenting our actual child until we get through this... etc etc. I can see something like that maybe making a separation manageable... but I don't have a clear enough understanding of myself to do that yet.
 

JadeB.

MyPTSD Pro
There's a difference in supporting someone with ADD and managing it for them and doing everything for them.

I'm sorry but if your husbands ADD is as severe as you say it is how is he able to work at all? I highly doubt he has someone beside him managing it while on the job. My adult son has severe ADHD so I understand what it is and as much as I want to manage it for him,tell him what to do,how to do it,etc I allow him to figure it out on his own. Doing everything for him because I don't believe he is capable of doing it himself would be enabling him and he wouldn't get help or do what he needs to,find ways to cope,etc if I did it all.

But,I will stop there. I feel no matter what anyone says here you will make excuses and justifications. I do wish you luck with all of this. I hope you can figure things out.

Good luck to you.
 

HealingMama

Sponsor
There's a difference in supporting someone with ADD and managing it for them and doing everything for them.

I'm sorry but if your husbands ADD is as severe as you say it is how is he able to work at all? I highly doubt he has someone beside him managing it while on the job. My adult son has severe ADHD so I understand what it is and as much as I want to manage it for him,tell him what to do,how to do it,etc I allow him to figure it out on his own. Doing everything for him because I don't believe he is capable of doing it himself would be enabling him and he wouldn't get help or do what he needs to,find ways to cope,etc if I did it all.

But,I will stop there. I feel no matter what anyone says here you will make excuses and justifications. I do wish you luck with all of this. I hope you can figure things out.

Good luck to you.
That's fair. I used to be much worse about that. I don't schedule his Dr appointments anymore. I don't remind him how long it's been since he has seen his kids. I do push about psych treatment and step in there. I do push about my own needs. I do push about him learning strategies. He did read a workbook and implement some of it on his own.

I can't stand trying to help a "yes but" person and I am probably being that person aren't I? Sorry. If you would be willing to share examples of what I am doing that you think is enabling I would appreciate the education because you're right sometimes I do step into that.

My husband can function when there is structure imposed on him that he can follow, but can't function well without structure and external accountability. The only reason he has this job is because we got him into voc rehab and the assigned counselor did all the administrative stuff for him, applied to places and coordinated his interviews, helped him complete any paperwork she couldn't do for him, etc. His previous job he got bc a friend got him the interview.

When he is unemployed I ask that he work on apps daily and he probably does technically? But he is so disorganized and bad about following up on notifications that the chance of him actually completing all the steps to apply for and follow through on a job prospect without administrative support is minimal. The problem is he and I both tend to moralize this stuff sometimes. He sees me as controlling when he doesn't want the help/ can't admit that he needs it/ doesn't realize ADHD is interfering. I see him as passive aggressive/taking advantage/not caring when sometimes it's the ADHD or his poor coping mechanisms. At the end of the day he's responsible for managing it though. You are correct.

But
yeah, he only has this job bc of voc rehab. And when he is working a regular real full-time job it does seem to eat up a huge amount of his energy and ability. He becomes much less of a household participant. When he had a part time job that required no administrative effort he showed up at home better (I probably posted here less frequently during that time). He has forgotten to schedule time with his own children. He has gone to jail, and then his administrative and critical thinking are so impaired that he ended up going to jail a second time due to an administrative problem rather than knowingly breaking the law. He left his children at Walmart once when we had them for the summer so he could go get his wallet from the house. We routinely have stressful interactions with anyone we are planning to spend time with if I don't spearhead the communication bc his ability to be clear and track everything is not good. We have lived at this house for two years and he gave a repair shop the wrong mailing address. He can't remember his own phone number sometimes. He ended up owing 40k in child support due to a combination of not being able to remember to send something to them, and learning to use avoidance as his primary coping mechanism.

I mean he's brilliant, he was a national merit scholar with colleges competing for him to attend, but there are plenty of people with ADHD who have both high IQ and executive functioning problems.

I work really hard to only involve myself for matters that impact me directly so that I won't enable him, but apparently I am doing a bad job at that or you wouldn't see what you see.

Sorry again for rejecting what you are saying. I do want to learn and consider other ways of thinking about all of this.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Sure that's possible. But I also know that I am not in a position to walk away right now. When this issue first happened and my attachment was totally broken? Yeah, I could have then. If I could just have a weekend to deal with separating, moving stuff, that might work. But the way it is, it's not a quick thing, and could only be quick in a way that would not be fair to my child.
That would be true with the majority of breakups, unless someone was fleeing for their safety and even then there is usually some planning involved? I lived with my ex for 5 months after we split up , and that was without children, as it took time to digest the split and then working out living arrangements.
 
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