Husband with Terrible Memory

Updated on December 21, 2009
D.R. asks from Broomfield, CO
18 answers

My husband forgets things that we talk about all the time, to the point that now I've taken to writing our conversations down just so I can show him later that we did talk about it. The topics range from all sorts of things like the kids, grocery shopping, work, personal life, everything. When the topic comes up again, it's like he has no recollection of ever talking about it *ever*. I have a lot of good examples but I think you ladies get the picture. I'll remind him that we already talked about that issue and resolved it, and he will deny that we did. It's BAD. Is this just a selective memory thing, or should I be concerned that it is a real problem that needs professional help, medical attention, pills or etc? I know that men are bad about this kind of thing *in general*, but I'd say this has gotten especially bad in the last 6 months. He is 42 years old and his family does not have a history of alzheimers or memory issues to my knowledge.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Boise on

My brother had this problem and was finally diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. Now he takes Ritalin or something like that every other day. He only takes it on the days that he needs to concentrate and focus on things, and off one day because it is hard for him to be creative on the drug (he has to be creative for his job). So what about testing for ADD?

Is it possible that you are overbearing and try to mother and boss him all the time? And he is "forgetting" to rebel against you passively? No offense to you, just a question?

Or how is he with his job? Some men have personalities where they are so intensely focused on one thing, and one thing only, that they are very unmotivated/unable to multi-task. So is he really good at his job but bad at all the other little outside details? This could just be a personality trait.

Personally, the more stress/emotion I have on my plate, the more forgetful I am and I have had husband and coworkers amazed that I have completely forgot entire important conversations with them.

Take care,



answers from Denver on

Hello D.. I empathize with this tremendously... but it's ME, not my husband with the issue. It has caused arguments between my husband and I. With the exception of getting dressed and eating, I have to write down every single part of my day just so I don't forget what I have to do.
I was recently told to take B6 which aids with memory and focus. It has been helping (at least my lists are shorter and there hasn't been any arguments ;).
Try vitamins and if it continues, he should consult a doctor. Good luck.

More Answers



answers from Grand Junction on

Hi D.,
Is your husband under any sort of stress? I have noticed when my hubby gets stressed out (for him it usually takes quite a bit) he gets crabby and forgetful. When these circumstances do arrive I try to be more patient with him and try also to be more helpful in areas that may help relieve some of the stress. We have also found that the B vitamins help the memory level out a bit. He may need a supplement. Hope this helps, L.



answers from Springfield on

My husband is the same way. I would encourage him to see a doctor and see whether there's any test they can do for memory loss, so they can put a diagnosis on it if it warrants one. I do know there are tests out there because our daughter is undergoing testing for "working memory" problems (forgetting tasks the minute they're assigned). Testing could isolate the problem (is it in the part of the brain responsible for recall, for example). Then they could treat him accordingly, whether through medication or simple steps like making lists and hanging onto them all the time (thru a PDA or iphone device). There are ways to help people through memory issues. Seek the advice of experts. If he is not agreeable, do the research on your own and sit down with him and discuss your concerns in a helpful way (not suggesting he's wrong and you're right, but rather how you're concerned for him). Let him chew on it for awhile and *if he remembers* maybe he will come to that conclusion on his own to look into it. You know men. ;)



answers from Denver on

My sister's husband is the same way. Just from my own personal observation, with him, it appears to be he's the type that never seems to be fully "in the moment." He's always thinking about other things, even when you're having a conversation with him about one topic. He's all over the place, never slows down, doesn't sleep well, grinds his teeth when he does sleep ... He and my sister have taken to emailing each other when they want to remind the other about something, reiterate a topic already discussed or bring up a difficult situation. It's not ideal but it seems to be working for them. I'm no doctor, but I would guess if my brother-in-law would just slow down, ease his stress and anxiety levels and truly try to be present in the moment with his family, his memory would improve.

My dad, on the other hand, is a drinker and has a terrible memory. The more he drinks, the worse it gets.

My suggestion to you if your husband isn't a big drinker and doesn't have a history of memory loss in his family would be to see a doctor first to rule out any potential health issues.

My heart goes out to you. I know how extremely frustrating this must be for you. Hang in there!!



answers from Salt Lake City on

How does he sleep? Does he snore? Are there times when his breathing stops? Does he wake up tired every day? Sleep problems can lead to memory problems.

So can hormone imbalances, reactions to medication, and depression. So can head trauma from his glory days as a high school or college football player. (Possibly my husband's problem, according to his MD.) And a long list of other things.

Please encourage him to see a doctor to be sure that there's nothing going on with him medically. He may resist, as men often do. Perhaps explaining to him that his increasingly bad memory has you concerned for his health would help him go willingly.



answers from Salt Lake City on

You may want to get him checked out. My friend's husband had the same issue at the same age and they found he was depleted of gamma in his body which affects his memory. He was a dr and had to quit due to this problem! Is he having issues at work?



answers from Denver on

Hi D., my husband has similar issues. I would INSIST that he go to the doctor for a checkup. If he balks, tell him that it isn't fair to you, which it isn't, and make the appointment for him. Unless you've gone through this, you have no idea how unbelievably aggravating it is! My husband was over-stressed (we've had a horrible year with his job loss, plus we lost our house and his vehicle, and had to file for bankruptcy) and he was depressed. Doctor put him on Zoloft and things are MUCH better. Good luck!



answers from Denver on

Hi D. - Have you considered that he is preoccupied, depressed or that he is angry about something? Being absent-minded or forgetful can often be passive agressive behavior. A dear friend was like this until he worked through some anger issues with a counselor. He never raged or anything but he definitely had some things to work out.

My husband and I have both dealt with this before where we thought we we were in agreement when we left a conversation but in fact we weren't at all. We finally had to come up with a way to know we were in agreement. Now if a decision is final we "put our stamp on it". It sounds like your husband is at the extreme end of that spectrum.

If he is in denial or defensive about his memory lapses, perhaps work your important conversations like a family business meeting where you have a bullet-point agenda and you write the resolutions and both initial it.

If you have enough "evidence" where he is initialling or signing family agreements with no memory of it, you are in a better position to get him to either answer for it or go see a doctor.



answers from Salt Lake City on

That is so frustrating! However, it's my husband who can relate with you more than I can. I was having, and on occasion still do have similar memory problems. Turns out I have sleep apnea and needless to say when you don't get enough of, or good quality sleep it effects you in many ways. Although I was sleeping plenty hours, which was also frustrating for my husband, I wasn't getting good quality sleep. Even to this day I am having difficulty remembering things from certain periods of time before I got help with the sleep apnea.

I hope this helps. By the way, you're good to write stuff down. However, from experience, take it easy writing stuff down that you may not want to remember anyway. ;0)

Jenn C.



answers from Salt Lake City on

This very well could be a medical issue. He may want to ask his doctor about any meds he may be taking. Some medications affect short term memory.

I have difficulty with short term memory loss and I'm about your husbands age. I'm learning to carry a notebook around and write down key things that my husband and I talk about as well as other conversations and things I need to remember. It's helped a lot. Usually, after I glance at my notes to self, I can remember most of the conversation.

Some of it could be selective, but I doubt it. It's a real thing for me not to remember entire conversations or pieces of my day. Get him to buy a notebook and start taking his own notes.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!



answers from Missoula on

Be sure he isn't "forgeting" for some personal advantage and then have him evaluated for a slight ADD or ADHD. I know of three male friends of mine all over the age of 40, that have been diagnosed as such recently. Weird but if you think back, that was not something we knew much about 30-40 yrs ago. Also, practice 'replay' in conversation. This is where participants repeat back what the other has just said to clarify that all was heard and understood correctly. Also, maybe have thyroid checked. Hypothyroid makes you very spacey, even forgeting mid sentence what you were going to say. Best of luck!



answers from Denver on

My husband and I just went through several months of testing for this very issue. It was affecting our marriage, our family and his job, because he couldn't remember anything unless it was written down.

See a good neurologist. My husband had a CAT scan, neuropsychological testing and two sleep studies. He does have sleep apnea and was also diagnosed as depressed - he's on meds and uses a breathing machine at night. Things have improved, though not back to where he was before.



answers from Colorado Springs on

The more stressed I am, the less I remember. It's the holiday season, which causes stress for most people-that could be part of his problem right now. My sister has a horrible memory to the extent that she's forgotten to schedule nurses for the surgeon she works for (thankfully another girl caught it before surgery day!)-she's had this job for 5 years now & one day just forgot. She's started taking Ginko for her memory problems. I've also heard that doing puzzles (crossword, logic, etc) is a great help-some say that keeping your brain challenged like that can help you avoid Alzheimers & demensia.
If it worries you, ask the doc the next time you go in what you can do to help him remember. If he feels hubby needs a visit & further eval, drive him in if you have to.



answers from Provo on

It sounds like something you should worry about. I've had memory issues before due to head trauma, and I didn't feel like I was forgetting anything; whole conversations would disappear and I never knew. I had other injuries and was in the hospital, though, so people were able to observe and help me without too much difficulty. It might be hard to convince someone to go get looked at if he doesn't think anything is wrong and doesn't remember having conversations.

Good luck!


answers from Fort Collins on

Sounds like something he can't control, in my opinion. I spent the second 1/2 of my childhood with a mother with a traumatic brain injury and she had similar memory issues. Any chance he could have had some kind of injury like that? It can happen a number of ways - I knew one woman with a brain injury (and memory issues) from falling off her bike (that's it!) and a man with similar issues from a car accident. I think your husband should get checked out by a doctor - maybe a few if he doesn't get the answers he needs right away. There are tests they can do to figure out what is going on. Best of luck.



answers from Boise on

Since its been a dramatic change in the last 6 months I would definitely get it checked out. Could be something as easy to take care of as sleep apnea or something like a tumor pressing on his brain.



answers from Denver on

I don't have a solution, but you are not husband is exactly like this. I think it is a combination of what others have said: not enough sleep (he gets maybe 5 hours a night), not being in the moment (he tells me that people tell him things all day, so he can't remember it all), and stress. I hope something works for you, because I know how terrible it feels. DH and I had multiple conversations about him taking the kids shopping for xmas presents--not only did he forget what I wanted, but also that he had ever planned to take the kids on the excursion. I have to admit I got pretty mad! Good luck to you.

Next question: Could This Be Alzheimers?