Husband to Me: “I’m Glad You’re Not Perfect!”

ADHD and blame defensiveness


“Whoa, looks like I got a little carried away with the pitchfork,” I mutter to my husband. I had just glanced out the window, only to see a small fountain shooting from the punctured soaker hose.

“Huh? What’s wrong?!” says my husband, alarm in his voice. He defensively peered over his impromptu shield, The New York Times.  Ready to be informed yet again of his ADHD-fueled mistake or misdeed.

“Relax, I just punctured the hose when I was digging out those dahlias yesterday. A piece of it was buried in the dirt, and I didn’t see it.”

“Shew!” he says, chuckling and relaxing back into the Week in Review. “I’m glad it was you who goofed up and not me.”

Late-Diagnosis ADHD and “Blame Defensiveness”

Living for a few decades with unrecognized ADHD can make a person a bit gunshy—always half-expecting to be called out for some unintentional, unforeseen consequence. Moreover, living with a domestically and logistically high-functioning mate can bring dispiriting “less-than” comparisons.

Yet, in a sense, that’s the beauty of being married to my husband, compared to the engineers I tended to date in my youth. Make no mistake: They were wonderful men all. They had unerring ability to perform tasks (from oil changes to computer-memory upgrades) methodically, carefully, and logically. It carried a certain comforting charm that smacked of maturity and reliability.

The dark side of this reliability: A chronic inability to make non-linear leaps—or to fully trust people who can. Commit one deed that struck them as “illogical” and look out.

My husband is plenty brilliant, accomplished in areas that I can understand only superficially. He is absolutely rigorous in his approach to science—and brooks no sloppiness in his co-workers. But, with me, he is not a judgmental perfectionist. (Except for the one time, when I tried to make a healthy pie crust out of ground walnuts; a man has to draw the line somewhere).

“It’s A Relief To Know You’re Not Perfect”

So, to me, one of the sweetest things my husband can say to me is, “You do so many things well, that it’s always a relief when you demonstrate that you’re not perfect.”

Moreover, he never gets angry with me for my bone-headed moves.  He knows full well that, whatever he might say, it can never be as tough as what I’ll tell myself.  He’s always supportive of my endeavors, including writing two books that meant ADHD was the topic of too many conversations.

I find it’s important to take a break sometimes and remember why we love our partners who have  ADHD. We can still  honestly validate the challenges we face— and then learn to compassionately work through the challenges.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

—Gina Pera


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