Perhaps my biggest struggle as a wife is in controlling my knee-jerk judgment toward my husband’s actions. Actions that make my eyes narrow instantly, and the hairs on the back of my neck bristle.

Like dumping his coat on the floor right inside the door…and not coming back to pick it up when he has a free moment, just stepping over – or on it – on his way to the TV.

Or leaving a food wrapper on the counter instead of taking the extra two steps to put it in the trash can. Or not taking the overflowing dumpster down to the end of the lane for the weekly pick-up.

I know these are all symptoms of attention deficit disorder, but to me, it seems as if he’s purposely implying that I should clean up after him, like he’s trying to make my life harder.

It wouldn’t be half as bad if not for his reaction when I confront the issue – at once, putting me in the position of the parent and he the teenager. At once, narcissist and victim. Again, just another classic ADD/ADHD symptom. Sigh.

When I first learned that his behaviors were due to ADD/ADHD and not the choice to be a jerk, I thought knowing would be easier. And I suppose it is. But it’s still not easy. I can tell myself over and over that he’s doing something because of how his brain is wired, but it doesn’t make it a whole lot easier to deal with. I’m not going to suddenly start picking up his mess for him, and telling myself that he’s leaving his stuff everywhere because he has ADD/ADHD only makes me slightly less annoyed.

I try to be compassionate and understanding, I do. But I’m no maid. We have three young kids; I have my hands full trying to keep the house clean between us four, not including my husband. I expect everyone to clean up after themselves – taking into account age and development, of course, as the baby is obviously too young to be bound by this rule – because, well, we all live here.

No one likes housework, but it needs to be done and it’s a lot more enjoyable for everyone to work together than for one person doing the chores alone. That, and everyone lives here, so everyone should share in the responsibility.

But, yes, I do need to account for the fact that my husband as ADD/ADHD and he doesn’t think the same way and he’s going to leave rooms in a mess. I still believe that it’s his responsibility, but I try to be accommodating by not getting too bent out of shape if he takes longer to get to it. Personally, I pick things up right after I get them out – cook the food and then do the dishes right after the meal, take the garbage out when the trash can is full and then replace the bag right away, put the folded clothes into the dresser drawers right away instead of leaving them sit on the table for a couple days – because it’s a heck of a lot less daunting to do it a bit at a time, for me, than it is to create a pile of work and then spend several hours trying to sort it all out. But that’s just me.

I also fight not taking his actions personally. I catch myself cursing under my breath and have to tell myself that he’s not doing whatever to be mean, that he’s just not really thinking through the consequences or that he’s not good at organizing himself. It’s an ongoing struggle for me.

Years ago, I was given the advice to just do everything that he wasn’t doing, but I found that the more I did for him, the less he did – until it was almost like he was losing his life skills! Like suddenly he couldn’t figure out how to set his alarm clock. So, that didn’t work. Now, I don’t do things for him – I do nag a little, but whoever said that wives shouldn’t nag didn’t have a husband with ADD/ADHD who was just as content to let his wife be his servant. Mind you, he’s not maliciously taking on this attitude. He isn’t! He just…well, he doesn’t even know he has this attitude.

No, it’s not easy trying to be an equal partner to a spouse with ADD/ADHD. And I have no magic answers. I read books and I try different tips, but every marriage is different and not all those tips work. Probably the best book I’ve read is Is It You, Me, or Adult ADD? by Gina Pera. It gave great insights to how people with ADD/ADHD work and why the non-ADD/ADHD spouse finds the relationship so frustrating at times. In fact, I think I’m going to re-read a couple chapters tonight.