Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Wanted: help for husband who can't follow through on things
Chronic Frustration-ville: My husband of nearly eight years never does anything he says he will do. I have tried various ways to communicate how important it is to me, how let down I feel, etc. I am very near a breaking point — he just returned from a weeklong trip and I realized that I managed myself, the household and the kids just fine without him; now that he's back, I'm frustrated all over again! He is a sweet, gentle guy and a fabulous father, but I cannot get him to follow through on anything. I feel like the household "manager" and it's wearing on me. Help?
Carolyn: (1) Encourage him to get checked for a brain-wiring issue. ADD/ADHD, for example, can produce the result you describe.
(2) Figure out what he does do well, and see if you can build a set of responsibilities around that.
(3) In the meantime, find a way to structure your household-management job so that it doesn't deplete all your love and goodwill. Outsource, delegate, find cuttable corners, give yourself a night off, whatever it takes.
Don't skip this last step, because if 1 and 2 yield nothing, it'll be less demoralizing if you've already adapted.
Anonymous: Re: Frustration-ville: Yep, that really does sound like ADD, but she also may need to look at her relationship closely. My father was a fabulous father, while offering my mother no backup whatsoever. He is a narcissist. He was a great father because my uncomplicated love for him was a great motivator for his ego. Now that I deal with him as an adult, it's not so easy. My mother was in denial over his true nature for years.
Carolyn: This will look awfully familiar to many. Thanks.
Anonymous 2: For Frustration-ville: I constantly amaze myself at my capacity to forget at least two out of eight of things I do DAILY. (Sadly, I didn't do enough drugs to explain this, it really is my natural brain chemistry working.)
So, I have a three-ring binder, with sheet protectors in it. I have a separate sheet for morning, after work and before bed, with a list of things to get done at each time ("Start load of laundry"). I mark off what I've done, which gives me a sense of progress. The next day I wipe the sheet protectors clean and start again.
With this system, I have to remember ONE thing: check the folder. No one has to nag me.
Carolyn: I would forget to check the binder, but for those less hopeless than I am, I like the idea.
Anonymous 3: "So, I have a three-ring binder, with sheet protectors in it. I have a separate sheet for morning, after work and before bed"? W.O.W.
Carolyn: Nooooo! Don't mock what could save an astonishing number of marriages. Seriously. Some people would weep with joy if their spouses showed that much dedication to keeping things fair. No matter the cause of the imbalance, that always ends up being the issue: "Why is s/he so okay with watching me work so hard?" There's more love in a buck-fifty binder than any car, vacation or gem.