Jesse J. Anderson


How A Whiteboard Saved My Marriage

Can you take out the trash?

Sure, babe.

This simple question and answer happened every night. She asked me to take out the trash, I promised to do so.

But I never did.

I wanted to. I believed the words when I said them. But then I forgot. Every single night. For years.

And then we found out...

By the time we discovered I had ADHD—nine years into our marriage—a lot of damage was already done. Trust was broken and hope for restoration seemed distant.

We learned that one symptom of ADHD is poor memory, and I had it in spades.

One solution is externalizing memory by writing it down in a place you will remember to check. We bought a whiteboard to try it out.

Take out the trash, part two

We made a deal.

My wife would ask me to take out the trash like before, and then write it on the whiteboard. And every night, I would check the whiteboard, see the chore, and then check it off when done.

Reader, it worked.

With this tiny change, trust returned. Trash went out every night. My wife now believed that my poor memory was at fault, and I remembered to do the chores I'd promised.

It's become a habit now, but the whiteboard remains an important tool for externalizing my memory. And a reminder of how a simple tool can make all the difference.