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WS unable to focus

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AML04 posted 2/13/2014 08:38 AM

We had our first real MC appointment last night. We've been having an especially hard time with communication, specifically on WH's end.

We started going through some empathetic listening exercises and it was clear he was having a hard time with it. MC stopped us and asked him to describe it. He said any conversations that are more than just a back-and-forth he has a hard time retaining what the other person is saying so he gets upset/frustrated and shuts down. I had noticed he was doing this but mostly I chalked it up to him not wanting to really face what he had done but it was obvious last night how upsetting this is to him and I really don't think he's doing it on purpose. He did say it's easier for him to communicate when we text because he can go back and read what I say.

It was also brought up that he is not taking full responsibility for his A because he's not doing the work he needs to do to figure it out. Part of the reason he is avoiding it is because he doesn't like going back there and thinking about what he had done but part of it is because he can't focus long enough to get his thoughts together. She suggested I write down a list of things I want him to do and he works on them a couple at a time starting with the easier ones.

She asked if I could continue to be patient with him and I agreed.

My question is have any of you have/had a WS that has been unable to really focus and it has hurt your communication? She suggested it could be due to all the stress, that his brain is just shutting down and going into protection mode. WH and I also came to the conclusion that it might be he is out of practice. We had already stopped communicating in any meaningful way before the A (he felt disconnected and detached after our DS was born) and during it most of his communication with OW was by text or she did the majority of the talking.

If you have read this far I thank you. If you have any suggestions or advice it would be much appreciated

sisoon posted 2/13/2014 10:08 AM

2 thoughts that jumped into my mind:

1) He could just have some bad habits, like focusing on what he wants to say next rather than on what he's hearing. The fix for this would probably be practice, practice, practice listening, hearing, and verifying that he heard accurately.

2) Whenever I see 'focus', I think AD(H)D. Sometimes I'm right, even though I'm prone to see ADD in a lot of places. (I wasn't able to really hear another person until I started on stimulants for ADD.) There's some material on identifying AD(H)D on the web - if your H shows other indicators, getting evaluated by a psychiatrist would be a good idea.

I imagine depression and anxiety could also cause a person to not take in much of what he hears.

I'd go with meds for this sort of issue.

3) There are lots of other things that could cause or play into your H's inability to participate fully in a conversation, but those 2 jumped right out at me.

roses303 posted 2/13/2014 10:09 AM

Are we married to the same man? My WH is very much the same. The communication exercises we have done in MC have been painful. He spends so much time concentrating on getting the words I am saying right so he can parrot back to me that he completely loses the meaning. He can only focus on the first part of anything said and loses the big picture.

I'm having similar issues with worrying that he is not doing the work. I don't think he is focusing on the whys or even the what's. I just get a lot of I can't remembers and I can't believe I did that's. It is painful for him to try and he uses excuses that he can't rather than trying to get into the nitty gritty because he just wants to block it all out.

I have no answers for you but I empathize. You are not alone.

Morhurt posted 2/13/2014 10:17 AM

I'm sorry, that sounds so frustrating. I'm glad MC saw it and you guys were able to discuss it.
I read somewhere (Gottman I believe) about the listener taking notes and them looking them over before they respond. Maybe that would help?
I hope you guys find a way for him to hear you as that is so essential.

iwillNOT posted 2/13/2014 10:22 AM

My first thought was, has there ever been any concern about adult AD(H)D? My husband was diagnosed as an adult, and it is literally amazing the difference his medication makes.

Does your husband have the ability to focus on other areas, or on communication that does not relate to the affair? That would be telling. It would indicate it's the affair talk, and not focus in general, that is the issue.

I wish you the best.

AML04 posted 2/13/2014 10:51 AM

MC did bring up the possibility of ADD because the way he describes it, it's with all communication or with anything that takes more time to process. For example he also has a hard time reading anything longer than a tesxt/email and following along.

He really doesn't want meds because he doesn't want to have to rely on them forever (it is possible to only need them for a little while??) and I used to agree (I'm so leary of medication used as a crutch because I grew up in a family of addicts) but I'm at the point where anything that can help should be considered. He had gone on ADs after the PA ended (before dday) and he really didn't like what they did to him. If it is ADD, are there any milder meds that are less prone to be abused than say, Aderall? Maybe I'll ask him to make an appt with his Dr/a Psychiatrist to discuss further.

I'm really hoping it's bad habits and that we can fix it with practice. The funny thing is I have a lot of the same symptoms but I'm usually able to focus in the moment. It's when I try to remember things later that everything gets hazy.

It was good to get it out though because I was starting to get very impatient with him. I do still think he is avoiding doing some things he should be able to do but at least it makes more sense as to why he seems to withdraw and why he doesn't discuss things he's read.

Thank you so much for the responses.

Oh and Roses-that's exactly what I was thinking. That he was saying he "can't" because he really didn't want to. However, last night at MC I actually SAW how frustrated he was that he couldn't follow what I was saying and was struggling to respond. It put it in a new light for me. Not that it's any less frustrating but at least I do believe it's not all avoidance.

[This message edited by AML04 at 11:03 AM, February 13th (Thursday)]

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