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What if a husband doesn't get it?

Posted Apr 09 2009 7:16pm

 

Hello!  Ned Hallowell here.  I haven’t posted on this blog in a long while, mainly because I didn’t know how to!  But, Melissa has kindly instructed me, and with luck, this post will get on.  Let’s see!

I  wanted to address a theme I see in MANY posts, and in my practice all the time.  It is the problem of the husband who refuses to entertain that he might have ADD, that he might be contributing to the marital problems, that he might benefit from a consultation with an expert.

We men tend to be skittish when it comes to talking about ourselves from a psychological standpoint.  We tend to feel threatened when someone raises the idea that we might have a “problem”.  No way, not me!  Get off my back!  I’m just fine, you’re the one with the problem!  I work all day, then I have to come home and hear this?  I’d be fine if you’d just stop reading all those books and magazine articles!  I’m not crazy and I sure don’t need any shrink!  These are the typical male responses to the question, “Might you have ADD?”

So, what’s a woman to do?  First of all, know that you are not alone!  Second, don’t give up.  There is hope!  I have been down this road many times, with many couples.  Third, get help.  You cannot drag your husband into my office, or the office of any mental health professional.  The help I have to offer will only work when your husband is ready to hear me out with an open mind.

So, how on earth do you open the closed male mind?  With sex, drugs, or rock ‘n roll?  Those might work, but I don’t suggest those at the top of my list.

At the top of my list is forming a team.  Find others who can help you.  Speak to your family doctor, speak to your husband’s brother or sister, speak to a friend of both of yours who might help.  The goal is not to persuade your husband of anything, but just to help your husband see that his fears are unfounded.  There is nothing to fear in the diagnosis of ADD.  The time to fear it is when it is not diagnosed.

So, your team needs to help your husband see that his life can only get better if he will stop and listen long enough to understand the issue.  I am very good at speaking to men like these.  I love talking to male skeptics.  As long as a man is willing to come to my office and pay my fee (paying the fee is sure sign of commitment as opposed to just coming in to appease his wife), I can usually help him to get past his fear (which is rooted in ignorance) and begin to take steps toward change.

You need to find someone like me, someone who can speak a man’s language, not sound too shrinky, and someone who understands the positives as well as the negatives associated with ADD.  You can start by reading my books.  Then, look around in your community for an expert who shares my take on this condition.  DON’T go to the wrong expert.  Check the person out in advance.  If your husband has a visit with an expert who blows it, your husband will likely never accept help again.  The first visit is crucial.

The bottom line is: you can’t do it alone.  You can’t (usually) coax, cajole, browbeat, bribe, or terrorize your husband into being open-minded.  People don’t relax and open up with a gun to their head.

So, look around.  Speak to others in your community or on blogs and websites like this one.  (You might also consider bringing your skeptical husband to the couples weekend my wife and I are running in Boston june 19 - 21.)  

But whatever you do, do not give up. Just try different approaches.  Sooner or later, the odds are one of them will work.

Good luck!!!

 

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