Why is my ADHD husband so short tempered and angry?

AJ's picture

We've been married over a year. We really do love each other, I swear. But lately, I'm concerned about how he treats me. He is responsibly addressing his ADHD (I guess) by seeing a doctor. He takes concerta, prozac, and some other drug (recently) for road rage. (I can't believe there even IS such a drug!)

He is responsible, intellegent and functional. But he seems to lack some "emotional intellegence or compassion." Lately, he is sharp, sarcastic, short-tempered, and basically not pleasant to be around at all. The smallest thing sets him off and he often over-reacts to life's small frustrations. Oh, and he is ALWAYS right.

I'm a very strong woman, and his words do not affect how I feel about myself in general. But if I were not strongly grounded, I think I would be well on my way to a low self esteem -because of the way he speaks to me and treats me sometimes. He has explained that is a symptom of his "ADHD" but I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around this.

Sometimes it's embarrassing to be around other people. If friends were to witness our interaction at the wrong time, it would appear that he is a macho, cocky, know-it-all husband and I am the submissive, weaker, wife. (Which is NOT the case at all because I would never put myself in relationship like that...or at least that's what I've always thought.)

I'm almost to the point where I'll go out of my way to avoid him. But it's kind of hard since we live together. I'm not a nag. I give him plenty of space. If he were my boyfriend, I'd probably arrange a strategy to avoid him for several days so he could appreciate me more when we got together.

We have had conversations about this. He has explained that he is unaware of his tone and delivery and blames it on his ADHD. But I'm tired of bringing it to his attention.

I really care for him and love him. He frequently assures me that he loves me too. Despite his time-bomb shortness, there is much love and respect in our relationship.

It makes me sad to see him living with so much anger. I try very very hard not to take it personally and consider his illness. How much of this anger is related to personality? medication? ADHD?





Hi AJ, When I read your blog

Hi AJ,

When I read your blog I couldn't believe how much your husband sounds like mine.  We have been married for 19 years.  I am also a very strong woman and have become very independent because of my husbands ADHD.  The thing is, lately I have considered leaving.  I am tired of coming home from work and wanting to relax in my own home and being greated by an angry tirant! 

It sounds like you love him alot; that will help you in the long haul. It is good that he has been diagnosed and getting treatment.  Mine has not been diagnosed and is very resistant to the thought that he may be ADHD. 

I guess the difference between us is that you are just beginning your marriage and both of you realise what the disability in your marriage is.  I have built up a lot of resentment, hurt and sadness over the past 19 years that has left me ready to throw in the towel.  I wish I could have started out like you...knowing what was going on.

The anger issues are wearing on me.  I am tired of fighting and I feel like being alone is a better choice if he won't take responsibility.


Sorry for the rant.  Keep positive and keep focused on the fact that it is his disability, not you.  You are a strong, supportive wife and he is VERY lucky to have you.

I experience the same things

I experience the same things you've both written.  Every weekend is filled with conflict and misunderstandings.  A small part of me wants to release my anger and continue to work on the marriage, the other part wants to just quit and end it.  I also feel as if I could finally relax if I lived without my husband.  I want a quiet, peaceful home and we don't have one.  Our daughter hates being the only child left at home, because she's under Dad's magnifying glass of criticism and because her parents argue a lot.  I started out today looking at the bright side and laughing about the frustrations in my life.  But after a few incidents of being cut off in mid-sentence, being ignored because he was distracted by something, and similar things, I feel so invisible and lonely that I just want to cry.  The stresses are taking a physical toll also and I am seriously questioning whether I can raise a teenage daughter AND deal with my ADD husband for the next 6 years.  I realize that a divorce would only complicate the parenting side of things, but I don't know how to renew my energy to continue working at this.

Is it really the ADHD?

I have been married a little short of 3 years and my husband is a mess. He was recently diagnosed with ADHD and is taking Vyvanse 70mg. He is out of control with his anger and always blames it on his ADHD. I have a hard time believing that is what causes his anger since I myself have ADHD and am not an anger/violent person. My biggest concern is our 17 month old son. I am afraid if I stay in this marriage our son will grow up and learn this behaviour my husband displays. The last think I want is for my son to grow up disrespecting women. I really feel like it's a catch 22. Am I a bad Mom to leave this marriage and split up his parents or am I being a good mom by leaving and taking my son out of an unhealthy enviroment? Someone please give me some answers. A little preview of what life is like in our house.... My husband will wake up usually in a bad mood. He will find anything to start a fight about. For instance.....it was 7am and was getting ready for work, the baby and I were sleeping in the bed when my husband started screaming about not having matching socks of the kind he wanted to wear....so he began to curse/scream and started to throw all of the dresser drawers on the floor. At this point he woke up our son which was now crying because he was frightened by his dads rampage. My husband is also no stranger to hitting. God, I feel so pathetic as I am writing this I know the answers and just scared to leave for some reason.

Could it be the meds?

Was your husband like this before being diagnosed and starting the medication?  Maybe it's the medication causing him to act like this.  My husband had been basically acting like a jerk a little over a year ago and, long story short,  we got to a point where we  thought it may be the meds he was on -- so he talked to his doctor and started working with different dosages and it has made a world of difference.  Just something to think about.  Good luck to you!  

Anger and ADHD

There is not one single diagnostic statement that suggests that anger is one of the symptoms of ADHD.  Not one.  He needs to go back to his doctor immediately and work this out.  Probably some therapy would help as part of that treatment.

In the meantime, if he is hitting you, you are not safe - nor is your child.  My advice would be to let him know that hitting is not acceptable, and to find a place for you and your child elsewhere until you are 100% confident that a.) he has gotten his anger under control and b.) he will not hit you in retribution when you return.

The behavior you describe is not normal behavior.  No healthy adult should be throwing what are essentially temper tantrums about mismatched socks!  Move half (no more, no less) of your money into a separate account under your name only (so he can't "force" you to return for financial reasons) NOW and MOVE OUT!  You are being abused.  Hopefully you have family somewhere who can help you get back on your feet.

Also, one of the first things I would do is try to understand why you were scared to move out.  Are you afraid that he will pursue you and cause you harm?  If so, take your gut instincts seriously and don't let down your guard for a while.  Finally, try to anticipate what the worst is that he can do to you (particularly financially).  Make sure that bills get paid adequately so that you don't lose your house (and its equity), and consult a lawyer about what your options are if things turn sour.  If you are going to take care of yourself and your son, please think in terms of "I am a competent woman who needs a plan" rather than "I am a victim of a poor man who needs help".  If he needs help, it's his responsibility to get it.  It's your responsibility to keep yourself and your child safe.

Accept help and support from others who care about you (parents, siblings, cousins, good friends) but remember that you must make your own smart decisions.


My ADHD husband also wakes up in bad moods.

My ADHD husband is very moody, particularly during the morning because he's annoyed that he has to get up to go to work. He'll lash out at the most minor things and he'll carry-on like that until he has to leave for work.  I am left-behind like collateral-damage after a war. I often just sit in shock after this happens.

I'm So Exhausted's picture

What will the morning bring

Overwhelmed Wife,

In hindsight, as long as my spouse was in charge of himself, he did what he wanted, at his own pace, and is quite content.  At least 80% of the time, he called his first customer to explain that he had gotten tied up and would be running late.  Didn't matter if it was an 8 am appointment or a 1 pm appointment.  There was also that percentage of appointments that he literally neglected.

It caused issues when he started hiring his nephews to work with him.  Of course, they never seemed to mind getting paid to watch TV for 1 or 2 or 3 hours while their uncle got his day pulled together.   After a while they would get fidgety since they got there at 7:30 am, and they literally could have slept in a few more hours.

As a solo act, my spouse's ADHD is his alone.  When it came to working out life schedules, marriage, one baby and then 18 months later, a second baby, church morning, parties, and date nights- it was a mess. For many years I just swallowed my frustrations, made excuses for his behavior, and never held him accountable.  Those were my errors of judgement.

I am working hard to discern if that is just the way it has to be - or if it is possible for him to take responsibility and acknowledge he needs some sort of training or help.   

He is working with a coach.  I have to take the posture that the coach knows what he is doing.  Sitting in my shoes, it just seems as my spouse is getting to be more and more of a bully.  I thought he was demanding and controlling before.  He did it in very passive aggressive manners.  Now he just out and out tells me this is his house and he has taken "back" his position as man of his own castle.  That old mantra of "It has to get worse, before it gets better" worked - - - for a while - - - - - after YEARS, yep years - - - -my own sense of self has worn thin in being open to making this all work.  It still seems that if I do all the bending, he is happy.  If he has to budge, it is misery for both of us.  

I am in my own little bubble, attending college, applying for jobs, and believing I am working my way out.  Time shall tell.  

 I am left-behind like collateral-damage after a war. I often just sit in shock after this happens.  I understand this completely.




thank you for your input

When I read your reply, I honestly thought that I was reading something from my sister in law!  lol   My H's brother is a lot like what you've described, but he doesn't hire nephews.  But everything else you wrote would apply to my sister-in-law and her ADHD husband (who is my H's brother). 


I mentioned in another post that my husband talks constantly.  When we're together all day long I go batty listening to his non-stop drivel.  Sometimes it's just silly jokes, but when those are interrupting my thoughts and plans, it gets annoying to ME.  He wants a full-time listener.  He doesn't want "give and take" conversation.

I'm So Exhausted's picture

Social cues are not received

My spouse has communication skills mixed up.  Like he will walk in the door at the end of the day and automatically say "How was your day?"  There is not follow-up for me to that.  I can start to respond, and he then starts talking right over me to tell me stuff.  So, he "gets" the steps, but does not apply them in a manner that is comfortable to me.

 He wants a full-time listener.  He doesn't want "give and take" conversation..  Yep, yep, yep, he talks and talks and talks - more like lecturing.  He likes to share what he knows, he just cannot get into a back and forth conversation. This works well for him in his business since he does repair and installation construction, and  he has different customers every day.  He has some repeat ones - but they only interact occasionally.  From my side of the fence, I hear him over and over explain why he running late.  An occasional customer has no clue this is his pattern.  

It has become really troublesome over the past 5+ years, as he has become very interested in politics - and shares an opposing opinion to almost everyone we know - so he has slowly pulled away from all those people because "they won't allow him to have a different opinion."  He thinks they gang up on him.  Hmm.  I see it just the opposite.  If they don't agree with him, he gets defensive and mad.  Very harsh. 

I have been searching for explanations to this behavior.  Can it be altered?  The place I sit in at the current time - it can only be addressed if he is willing to acknowledge.  His defensive nature just cannot handle that.  And that,  is not conducive to a happy married life.




Reply to "Am I a bad Mom to leave this marriage?"

No, you're not a bad mom. I myself have gone through worse for the last several years. Our son is 6 and our problems started pretty much when I was pregnant. It's almost as if he was all of a sudden severely jealous .. and it continued as our son got older. Our son has a little bit of a delay; never been very verbal. In the last few years he has gotten violent because of my husband's issues with consistency, follow-through and respecting boundaries and rules. Our daughter is 4 and even she is getting extremely aggressive. In the last several months my husband has been using his new job stress as an excuse for mistreating us all and I have been in tears almost every day the last two weeks. In Nov he crossed a line with my son and now, I'm in the process of heading for a shelter. PLEASE don't wait. DON'T WAIT. There are no excuses for abuse .. NONE.

This is my life...anger,

This is my life...anger, verbal/emotional abuse, misunderstandings, conflict...I don't get it.  The doctor put him on a "need" to take basis on Dexatrim.  How could he give someone who can't control his behavior, emotions and attitude the authority over when to take his medication. All I do is walk on eggshells and before I was scared to say anything that voiced an opinion that would challenge my husband...now I'm scared to say anything at all...even good things.  I'm broken down and depressed.  He's been so mean and hurtful...blames me for everything.  I love him with all my heart and want to be with him forever.  Is there any hope?  I'm loving, supportive and selfless and I'm made out to be a c*nt, b*tch, wh*re and bad housewife.  I swear I do everything in my power...I speak in a calm nice tone, I'm gentile...why does he misread me?  I tried to give him distance and its still not enough.  I just want him to see I'm his biggest fan and believe in him.  I say it but the words are forgotten, the good times are forgotten...he is lost within himself, so selfish a lot of times and cruel.  He lacks emotional intelligence...so cold...I wish he at least was raised by a loving and support family...maybe that would have taught him how to love and accept love.  Any advice out there on what I can do? I used to be a happy, outgoing person and now I'm withdrawn and sad. 

Nettie's picture

Hope and Hard Work

It sounds like you still do have hope, or you wouldn't be bothered to reach out. Good for you...hang on to it fiercely.

The first hope/faith I want you to have is in yourself. It's cliche, but perfectly fitting to remind you that you've GOT to put on your oxygen mask first, i.e., take care of yourself so you can help others. I understand that it's terribly difficult to abandon someone you love, so I'm not going to suggest that. You build up your strength so you can hold on to what's important to you. You can still support someone from a safe distance if that's what's required to take care of yourself and loved ones, and you can be flexible about arrangements as you reassess areas of change.

The first step I recommend in this area is to READ everything you can get your eyeballs on, choose what you think may work for your situation, and then strategize small steps towards progress. You've got to keep trying little things, learn from them, adjust them, and keep your momentum going.

Secondly, if you don't have one, form a support circle and go to it often. Part of this support system should probably include a doctor. My husband's doctor has allowed me to attend some of his sessions; perhaps yours would. My husband was very much helped by a simple sleep study, which helped with the diagnosis of a mild sleep disorder that has been helped with a sleep aid. One thing that has also helped both of us is nutritional supplements. I was pleased to discover an unexpected benefit from these supplements (just vitamins, minerals and essential fats) is a calmer, more consistent mood.

The other thing that is much more difficult and very hard earned is communication success. My husband and I (we both have adhd) have learned to slow down and examine our heightened emotions while talking to each other and most importantly to determine if our "passion" is based on accurate data. When first married (now four years), I was confused that my husband sometimes made such extreme statements while he is a scientist! He would say it's because he's logical and I'm not (arggh!), but I'm the one who did the tedious work to find and encourage solutions, so there! ;)

I'm guessing you each have unique strengths you can combine to solve the dilemmas you are facing, just like we do. Best wishes, and keep reaching out and working hard...you can do it. ~N

So Confused- I'm in a Tailspin

My husband has ADHD and these posts are like reading my own.  We've been married for 11 years and he has an awful temper.  He also feels that he needs to "Parent" me and his best friend. 

I've talked to a counselor and he said to leave - it's abuse.  I've been called everything under the sun and I am at my wits end.  I swear, when we fight, I would cry and now?  Nothing.  I just feel empty and lost. 

Part of me wants to move out and part of me knows that he is in debt up to his eyeballs and can't live on what he makes.  We own a home and we can't really sell because the real estate market is so bad.  I've considered moving upstairs...I just don't know.

What do I do?  He wants to work it out, after 11 years of the same crap I don't think he can change.  Oh, he is also taking meds and seeing a counselor for 3 years.  I have doubts about this counselor he's seeing.

Any pearls of wisdom for me?

I'm with the professional.

I'm with the professional. And I've been upstairs for two months now. If I could support my self, I would be gone. Maybe not, I adore my son who has just turned 18 and is still at home. Mr. Personality is at a party right now. He is not the man I live with. He'll complain all the way until he gets to the party, then have a blast. It just boggles my mind!

At home he'll pick on me for nothing. Once, he even called me at work to harass me about using the antenna on my phone. It really made him mad that I didn't! Or my ears. After we got married, he decided my ears bothered him. I could no longer put my hair back without him gripin, "ears! ears!". Then there is the stuff on the counters or touching the walls... Sheesh! Just chronic, petty, stupid stuff. Thank God the medication helped take the edge off! I've had to just accept that he will never have the capacity to meet my needs and I will never have a true sense of intimacy with him.

Here's one pearl from me, taking the room upstairs is nice, I wish I thought of it sooner! 

Your life is EXACTLY like mine ... Sad & Miserable :(

When I read your blog, I teared up.  I could have easily written these EXACT same words.  I am interested to see how you are doing now (nearly 2.5 years later) and I hope you get this message.  I am lost and in a world of pure ANGER.  My husband has been on 70mg of Vyvanse for a few years now and I am starting to think it is losing its effectiveness.  I am lucky if I get even an hour of my "nice" husband and then it's just GUILT, BLAME, ANGER, RUDE COMMENTS, TEARS.... I am at a breaking point.  I am described as a generous, friendly person by everyone except my husband.  He won't even talk about his ADHD and just wants to put all the blame on my shoulders.  He is a master at making me look bad, like it's all my fault that he is miserable (even though I hear him throwing things around the kitchen and garage when I am trying to sleep!!)  We have a wonderful son who is almost 8 years old who was diagnosed with ADHD/Asperger's about 2 years ago.  He is not angry, but sometimes I can catch glimpses of my husband's anger and rude comments mirrored in our son - and it's scary!  Lately, I have been fantasizing about leaving him and just cutting my losses.  It is such a scary thought (I have no money, no job, and 3 pets that I cannot abandon) and it makes me cry almost daily just thinking about it.  I approached my husband with the idea of getting help and he just yelled at me accusing me of putting all the blame on HIM even though I clearly said in the wise words of Melissa Orlov, "I am blaming the ADHD, not you!"  No response.  It's like he won't even consider it.  Please let me know how you are doing now.  Did you leave your husband?  Did things improve?  I am anxious to hear from someone in my same situation.

summerwine's picture

He needs his meds tweaked if

He needs his meds tweaked if he gets so nasty when they wear off. Does he realize that his changes when his meds wear off? 

My husband often misreads me.

We will be going along and I'll think that things are fine, but later he'll tell me that I was rude or uncaring to him "all day".   ???  What?   Things were going along fine.  He'll begin ranting and raving and I'm sitting there in shock.  

I just turned 50 and have

I just turned 50 and have been divorced for 4 years now, what you have just explained was a photo snap shot of my life.


Hi AJ, we sound as if we are living parallel lives. We have been married for 18yrs. I feel in the end over the years it is inevitable to become a little bit resentful - that is where I am at.  I am trying to figure out if I really want to stay around, it is beginning to wear on my own emotions at this point which is not good for my own well being.

Anyway it is nice to know I am not the only one out there dealing with this kind of relationship.

Short Tempered and Angry Hubby

Short and sweet - your husband is using his ADHD as an excuse unless he is doing ALL that he can to get past the anger issues that he has.  Sounds as if the meds he is on are not working as well as they could, or if the meds are actually optimal, he needs to do something else.  One very effective mood regulator is exercise.  He might try very regular aerobic exercise to see if that helps.  Another good mood regulator can be meditation.  He may not be a meditation type of guy, but he might look at it another way - either he gets his anger under control or your relationship is going to be badly affected.  Going part way doesn't cut it in this case...you are already trying to get out of his way...and that means that this ought to continued to be addressed until you get to a balance that BOTH of you can live with.

Also, excellent treatment includes therapy with a goal towards behavior modification.  In this case, controlling his anger and/or impulsiveness sounds as if it's an important first thing to modify.  (Note here - my hubby used to have spurts of anger, which may be different from what you're experiencing.  He found that using Wellbutrin as his ADHD med also addrressed his anger at the same time.  He also has worked hard to develop specific habits that pull us together, rather than force us apart.)

I'm curious about your statement that he has been particularly short tempered lately.  Does this change coincide with a new treatment regimen or specfic event?  Never assume that the meds are doing what you think they ought to do with ADHD and emotional stuff.  Some have some pretty weird side effects.  Experimentation is often needed to get to the right combo for any individual.  In the experimental stages, it might be helpful if you are his partner in observing the side effects.  For example, with his okay, keep notes on what time of day he is particuarly cranky, the situations in which he gets angry, etc.  Not only do the meds sometimes have side effects, but also having the meds wear off can have side effects, too (which is what shows up at certain times of day).

People with ADD can over-react to things - they can be easily stimulated...or...sometimes people with ADD like the intense simulation of fighting and look for fights to get into in order to be stimulated...or...sometimes people with ADD express their anger more readily than others because they have poor impulse control.  Or, there might be something else going on.  Make sure your hubby is with a person who is a real ADD specialist, not just a generalist, so that he has the highest chance of getting to the bottom of perhaps intertwined things that are going on with him.

Anger can also be a reflex that has to do with shame, which is something that people with ADD often struggle with.  See "How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking ABout It" for more on this topic.

Sometimes it's hard to pull apart the "tangle" of symptoms and figure out exactly how to treat them.  But keep trying, because it's important to you, as well as him, and ultimately will make a huge difference in your relationship.  You don't want to be questionning him AND you (which is already starting to happen).



Short Temper and Anger Symptoms

Melissa, I'm new to this site and this has probably been gone over in the past, but isn't it accepted that there are variations of AHDH, one of them being Combined Type? And doesn't Combined Type cover the moodiness and anger symptoms? My son was evaluated at age 6 and diagnosed with ADHD Combined Type. Both my husband and myself are quite educated as to ADHD (my husband was diagnosed as a child), and we felt we were pro-active in knowing the possibility of our son having ADHD. But our son was such an oppositional, defiant, moody, angry toddler (and that's only the beginning of it!) that we started preparing ourselves for diagnoses of oppositional/defiant or a type of bi-polar. It was serious. Anyway, he started off with Ritalin which was OK but the wearing-off time was such a fierce crash. He is now taking Concerta and it has been like a miracle. It is addressing not only the restlessness and impulsiveness, but the moodiness, anger, etc., as well. It's not a cure all -- we work with him consistently on these issues and he has come so far!!  

But the point is, couldn't an adult be diagnosed with Combined Type? Do you think getting the correct sub-type diagnosed is important as far as meds?

Also, is it possible to have this kind of ADHD becomec exacerbated by Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome? Have you ever heard of or dealt with such a case? (PTSD includes outbusts of anger, rage, crabby mood, over reacting.)

Types of ADD

I would like to answer this accurately, but am not a doctor.  There are three subtypes of ADHD (they are all officially called ADHD now, though that confuses people who have the distracted subtype as there is no "H' to it!)  I don't know if one type exclusively is responsible for defiance and anger.  I rather doubt it, as my husband has the distracted variety and suffered from both anger spurts and lots of opposition (to me...haha!)  Anyway, meds have helped him a lot, too.

Will explore the PTSD question and see if I can put it in a Hallowell Connections newsletter in the future.  (for past issues,including one with an article about PTSD, go to www.drhallowell.com and click on the archives on the bottom of the home page).

What Might Be Causing The Anger....

Hello all, (ADD husband, married 14 years, together almost 20)

I almost lost everything at the begriming of this year. My wife was finally giving up and needed to move on. She said if she didn't see certain gains in our everday life and between usin the coming weeks, i needed to pack my bags and leave. And I actually ended up leaving for about 3 weeks.

I AM the ADD husband with anger issues and am using counseling to help me find a way to move forward in a positive way. A lot of what the wives her have been saying relates to my wife and myself except for the hitting. I would never, ever, hit my wife. I do have the throwing things issues and have times where I hit a wall. My actions like this have been over the "everyday set backs" that I handle so poorly. So point being, I am a lot like the husbands you have been describing.

So, through help and a lot of thought about my anger issues. The every day anger or loss of temper started when I was first getting over loaded with the normal piling on of life along with the loss of being able to do it at my pace. Bigger houses, then dog, and finally my daughter was born along with my wife moving us forward in financial stability through real estate and moving. I can handle most of life when it comes one thing at a time. When it comes in bunches I feel over whelmed, rushed, and that my wife is in many cases the reason I cannot do my tasks like I want to. (Please note that it is just what I feel and probably not reality.)

Things that I am beginning to learn that help me over come the anger are ANYTHING that keeps the over whelmed or out of control feelings away from me. The single most helpful and hardest for me to do is to just talk about my feelings with my wife because I have never done this with anyone.

Second, I have found out that writing things down in list form works best for me from everyday stuff to prioritizing the ever changing honey do list. Some may wish to use their electronic device, but the pocket calendar does me a world of good. I have to look at it everyday and a few times a day.

My relationship with my wife after 7 months of counseling has just started taking steps forward. Not even steps, just a lean forward. But, that is the some fuel to help us both move forward as husband and wife. She still gets fed up with my behavior sometimes, but I do recognize what I am doing more often. If I can't stop it, I at least know that I need to talk to her and let her know what was going through my head at that time. It helps us both understand more.

I have to keep this from being a book. There is hope for your marriage if both parties want to learn together and move forward.

I am a work in progress.

It's like reading my own words...

I just read this post and a handful of the comments...and wow.  I feel like I am reading my own thoughts, feelings and emotions.  My husband is not a bad man.  But he is short-tempered, easily frustrated, somewhat paranoid, and always has to be right. My husband is undiagnosed, but he definitely has ADHD.  He has an appointment to see a doctor next week.  I'm praying that something is done.  I'm just terrified that he isn't really committed to getting help because I think that deep down he believes that he doesn't have a problem.  I do feel like I'm in a catch-22.  I've thought about leaving, but I don't want our 5-year old son to have to live with divorced parents.  Not to mention the fact that I'm pregnant with our 2nd child...

He is a great dad, but he does take pains to avoid our son when he's in a bad mood - for that I am grateful.  I just wish he didn't have to do that...

Most of the time he blames his moodiness and temper on external factors, but I often think it's more internal than external - he just doesn't want to admit that there is something wrong with him.  He is finally willing to take steps to try to get some medication or help - for which I am grateful.  I just worry that it might not be enough...

AJ's picture


Wow. I forgot about this post I made back in 2008. So, here is an update on my ADHD Marriage. 

Things are great! Since 2008, there have been ups and downs. Honestly, it got a little worse before it got better. It reached an all-time low when occasional name calling entered the picture. If he were a boyfriend, I would have left and not turned back after our first name calling fight. But... after having 2 kids, neither of us were about to leave each other so, we saw a therapist. 

During the first visit, the therapist recommended this book. Ironically, I had already read it and brought it to our first session -along with a couple of other books about being in a verbally abusive relationship. Lol. I was prepared for battle. Poor hubby. The first visit was all about his ADHD and he felt a little picked on. But it turned out, he needed to adjust his meds before we continue. He did.

My husband was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. He grew up with people calling him "smart but lazy" and adults were always nagging him about procrastinating and paying attention. He was that kid that did homework in homeroom the morning it was due and got an A -that is as long as the subject interested him. 

I'm very lucky to have an ADHD spouse that takes full responsibility for his physical and mental health. To make a long story short, we are doing really well and have learned a lot by reading the book (okay I read it and he is STILL on chapter 4. They need to make this an audio book for the ADHD peeps out there! lol) AND employing the exercises that the therapist told us to do. At first it feels goofy. We laugh about being that couple in the movie "This is 40" or Pam and Jim from "The Office". But it works!

(Almost) every night we do the "I appreciates" and "Validation" exercises. We have two toddlers, 2 and 3 and we both work full-time so you can imagine that combined with the ADHD, communication is something that needs work. Well, setting aside 15 minutes to do the "I appreciates" and "talk and listen" goes a LONG WAY and its actually kind of nice (as structured and awkward as it seems at first). I was kind of giddy the first time we did it. 

Not going to make this a long post because I have stuff to do. lol but I wanted to seriously recommend this book. I forgot I even posted on here years ago and was not even aware that it was connected to the book I just read this past year. Ha! Imagine that. I also suggest a few rounds of therapy. We still go every two weeks. We still need to learn how to deal with conflict and how agree that I am always right. (Just kidding!)

As for my previously angry husband, with the med adjustments, regular tennis workouts and taking the time to learn about his ADHD, stress triggers and how to communicate as a couple in general, we are both much, much happier! Oh, and also one very important thing the book mentioned and I agree with whole-heartedly. NOTHING IS WRONG WITH HAVING ADHD. It is simply a way of being. I never make my husband feel like he has some mental defect -something I learned that he was ashamed of. In fact, there are some distinct advantages. I see the positive side to his ADHD everyday. The important thing is to learn about the differences, how to deal with them and how to love, validate and respect each other in general. 

It sounds like your husband is a decent guy. I hope he is open-minded and willing to engage in getting ADHD treatment and therapy with you. I never suspected that there was a link to the outbursts and anger but there is indeed an emotional side to ADHD. You can't blame EVERYTHING on ADHD but I have learned in my marriage that our problems were very much connected to it.

Shout out to Melissa Orlov for writing this book. I do not know her and I'm not being paid to endorse it, but I'm sure glad she wrote it. 


Thanks, AJ

Thanks for the update, AJ - it's great to have you come back and share your story a bit down the road!  People at the site need to hear from folks who have been able to find a much better relationship as an offset to the pain that people share here.  So glad you are making it work!  I regularly see couples turn their relationships around but of course it is so much better to hear it from the couples themselves.

There is an audiobook for The ADHD Effect, BTW - you can get it at this site from the home page.

Your relationship will have ups and downs, as I'm sure you know.  But remember that by keeping you eye on it, and nurturing it, you should be able to bring it back to the good place again even if you get "out of whack" along the way.  Even my husband and I have had to "take stock and readjust" every once in a while.  And THANK YOU (from me, and probably your husband) for not thinking that ADHD is "bad."  That's a tremendously important part of your stability. 

Best of luck to you!


I'm surrounded!

Married 14 years - Husband and son with ADHD (and sister, brother, father, step-son etc....)

I just found this site and have never submitted anything like this before - but the words, "I'm done" just came out of my mouth and I'm sitting here wondering how I got to this awful place.  I've kidded for years that I'm surrounded by ADD/ADHD and that my role in life was to keep everyone organized.  My son was diagnosed with ADHD at 3 years old (off the chart ADHD!) and I decided that knowledge was POWER!  I've read everything on the topic and treatments for boys with this affliction and feel completely empowered to make smart decisions for my son.  I'm so proud of his progress (he's now 12 and coming home from ADHD camp in 2 days).  He's an awesome kid.  While gaining all this knowledge it came out that my sister also had ADD, which was so obvious but undiagnosed for her until she was an adult.  Then I was reminded that my brother was also a "Ritalin" kid but again this was way early before it was a common diagnosis.  Then we realized that our older son (step-son) was ADD but never diagnosed until 17.  Finally (duh), I realized (and his mom confirmed) that my husband had been diagnosed with ADHD.  Now, this is where it all gets tricky.  He has ADHD, but since he cannot ever be wrong, responsible or accountable, he will only acknowledge it in very rare situations and usually when talking about our son.  I'm not "allowed to use this against" him and if I bring it up he immediately turns defensive and very, very angry.

He is a wonderful man, caring, intelligent, hard working and a great Dad - 75% of the time.  The rest....snarky, angry, moody, mean and so argumenetive that it feels like all I listen to is this petty arguing (especially when my son is home, then it's the two of them going at it all the time!).  Being surrounded is hard but not impossible.  The part that is sending me out the door is his harsh anger that is explosive and without cause.  He says terrible things to me about myself, our son, our life and uses those fun statements of "everyone says", "you always" etc.  Even compares me to his "ex wife" just to be mean (only those of you with an ex-wife in your life will appreciate that one!).  The outburst is bad enough, but the part I cannot get my head around is his insistence that "I deserved it and he has nothing to apologize for".   I could tolerate almost anything (and have) when someone can be sincerely sorry for their actions but, he absolutely refuses to be sorry or remorseful for anything he does no matter how bad because it's my fault that we was so angry.  To my face he says this. And I absolutely know he doesn't remember what he said but cannot admit it!!!  I feel crushed and to blame for everything....

I'm fortunate, unlike many of the people I see on this forum, I'm a professional, well paid and have enough money to leave.  My problem is my son....I've already helped raise my husbands two older children (by his first marriage) and know the awful affects of two household child rearing when ADD/ADHD is involved.  I stay because I know what a divorce would do to my son, our stability is what has helped make his progress so strong.  Everything I read tells me that our split would be his undoing....and I'm okay with making a sacrifice to stay for his sake (because I really do love the man) but am starting to wonder what my staying will ultimately teach my son.   

I love my husband - and I truly know he loves me (when he's not in a rage and hates me).  I'm okay with his disorganization and time management issues - I've learned all the tricks...we have a great life, 75% of the time.  However, the 25% is horrible and it clouds everything good.  What do you do when your ADHD husband refuses treatment and is never wrong or responsible???  We did therapy for a long time to help us with our son but he now refuses because he felt ganged up on (ie.anger issues he needed to address).  I can live with all the ADHD behaviors - I get it..., but it's so hard being unappreciated for it and then to be piled on at the same time.  I'm not a doormat and never imagined myself in this place.

How do I get unstuck?

Sounds like your husband

Sounds like your husband doesn't have very good impulse control that 25% of the time, and this is making those times very challenging for you.  I wonder what your reaction is during those times.  The best thing you can do is to dis-engage saying something like "I really cannot be around you when you behave this way.  I'm happy to talk to you when you calm down."  And then when things are calmer, go back and discuss what the things are that are triggering him, and if the triggers can be avoided.

It sounds like since he is refusing treatment, he is not on any medication that might help with his impulse control. If he does not want to take responsibility for his ADHD, will he admit to any kind of mood challenges, such as anxiety or depression?  If so, Wellbutrin can be a great substitute medication that can support both ADHD symptoms and anger issues.  If none of these works, does he get regular exercise, which can also support mood disturbances?  Maybe there is something you can do together that would be a fun activity that will get you both going on a physical level to move some of the energy around.

The most important thing is for you to take care of yourself, and to stay out of the line of fire when his temper flares, and to remember that you are not the cause of his upset. When it comes to making a decision about whether to stay or go, it's important to keep in mind what kind of an example your husband is setting for your son, and how he sees you are responding to your husband's anger outbursts.  It will teach your son a lot about how to treat women in the future, bur it sounds like you already know this.

I certainly can appreciate that you have your hands full, and feel surrounded by ADHD.  You may want to consider getting counseling for yourself to keep your own self-esteem high, and to get some of the support it sounds like you badly need from a source outside your household.

I wish you the best.

Dealing with the anger spurts is the toughest part

I have been reading through this thread and am amazed at how much I have been seeing of my relationship. My husband is a great guy when he is not consumed by the ADHD. He is diagnosed and recently on meds. Even with the meds though he still has bouts of anger and frustration. He gets so mad at me over little things that are always my fault. He tells me that I keep frustrating him. It makes me feel as though I can't do anything right. We have a 6 month old girl and he is a great father. He leaves the room if he gets frustrated when she is there. This website is such a help to know that I am not alone and I have a place to talk. I am thinking of looking into therapy for us to help him. He said he is willing to try it. 

ADHD and Anger

I just read through everyone's stories quickly as I know my own life is in the same spot!  My husband has been diagnosed with ADD and now depression. I have blogged on other posts on this website too.  He is on Adderall and Wellbutrin.  He has been going nowhere since Oct 2013 when first diagnosed.  He started on Concerta which seems to be a nasty drug, very irritable on it.  Then he went to Adderall which i think for the most part is working good since he is not as confused and is able to follow through pretty good with most everything, unless he is really tired then things go haywire.  Now...................the depression end of it has come about as a consequence of having the ADD and relationship problems, etc.  Of course I am to blame for his depression.  The meds here need to be adjusted I think still as he is very up and down with moods and same as you all...........very mean and picking on me all the time, gets our daughter saying mean things to me as well.  They seem to say that if you have a mental illness of some type, it will be "comorbid" with at least ONE other type of mental illness.  I beleive he has a third type of mental illness along with these two.  A couple of doctors have said that if he is on the meds for these, he SHOULD NOT be behaving this way still, it should have corrected him.  We are still awaiting some brain injury info as well as he has suffered a couple of really good blows to the forehead.  If anyone has had a hard knock on the frontal lobe get your spouse into doc to look in different direction as well.

Give him a break


ADHD Comes with a looooooot of anger. 

Also note that women and men are affected by this mental disorder differently.

I am actually one of the few women who are affected by adhd very similarly to men. When I am off my medication I am irritable, witty, rude, unwilling to do anything, hateful, and so much more. I can never control my emotions and I have a hard time not wanting to slap someone in the face. 


IF, your husband is experiencing all of this ON the medication, then he has been misdiagnosed. The medication is giving him those symptoms. When I am on my medication I am very Mello and relaxed and happy. ADHD Medication is supoosed to CALM you down and make things more clear for you. 

You need to understand that ADHD is real and if your husband says it's a symptom he MEANS it. Also maybe he just needs to change his medication? some adhd medications are really not very affective.

What you're doing wrong is not understanding his situation -- I hated my mom for a very long time because she always suspected and acted as though I was in complete control of my actions and emotions. When i would cry to her and apologize she'd accuse me of 'crocodile tears' -- assuming that I have no emotions at all, which then just infuriated me and made me want to slap her upside the head.




Try and have him get other medication perscribed

Behavioral therapy -- YES this works, 

It helps you figure out how to deal with your emotions while on your medication

While ADHD medication might keep you from slapping someone, it doesn't solve the emotional intelligence part, ratherrr, you will just get confused and not know how to deal with a situation that you formerly used to solve with your fist. 

Give him a break

Are you on meds right now as you sound extremely angry.  I hear a lot of violence in your tone and it is quite scary.  The posts here are good for non-adhd spouses to compare what is going on so we all know whether or not it brings on the same issues.

Why is my ADHD husband so short tempered and angry?

I hear you AJ, it was like reading about my own marriage, especially the part of not wanting to be around other people because it can be embarrassing. I am new to this forum, I just found it a few days ago just hunting and searching for reasons why my husband can't seem to help his resentment of me and his anger over everything that has to do with me. I feel as if I found a lifeline here, up to this point I have been lonely and heartbroken..prone to crying at the drop of a hat. My husband has been diagnosed since he was in High School and I've heard him tell me how it affected everything about his life. When I first met him he was cocky and slightly controlling, but he had a charm that was irresistible. I was used to the control, having had a Sicilian father I felt right at home in this relationship. We have been together 14 years and the last 6 months have been a living hell. He was diagnosed with a back disorder which has put him on disability and ever since he has done a 100% change. He has never been a loving husband in the ways that would seem normal, but I always felt loved by him. I was used to him being on the cold side and not having much of a sex drive. I had gained quite a bit of weight over the years, and blamed myself for his lack of interest..but he still acted like he loved me, and liked me.This last year, I've lost 85 pounds..still on the heavy side, but getting more attractive.Not only has nothing changed in my love life, he hasn't even mentioned that I look better. I know he tells others all about me losing weight and they tell me he is proud of me, but he has never told me. In fact he has started bullying me, yelling at me constantly, blaming me for causing him stress. He doesn't want to talk to me, disengaging whenever I try to talk to him. I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis and I use a walker to get around..probably not that appealing, but he doesn't have any compassion- only what appears to be disgust. I have lost another 15 pds. this last few months and he actually accuses me of eating everything in the house! What happens is he drinks too much quite often, and will eat every 5 minutes, wasting much of it, and forgetting all of it the next day. He makes fun of my constant tears and I am tired of crying myself. I used to be a strong woman, now I'm starting to second guess myself that I am not all that he says I am. I feel nervous in my own home because everything I do is a reason for him to yell at me. He sleeps on he couch, always and if I were to wake up at am and make coffee, he will scream at me for waking him up. I spend much of my time alone in my bedroom, avoiding him while he is drunk in my living room and I feel safer in there. There are so many things that I have become accustomed too, but the worst is the constant fault he finds in me. I have mentioned divorce as I don't see any happiness in our future together, but he won't hear of it..telling me he is angry because his back hurts or that he is tired. I miss the love I used to see in his eyes, that is gone. This morning I mentioned to him that maybe his constant yelling could be from his ADHD and that maybe there is help for us. That started another round of bullying telling me I push his buttons and I ask for the yelling because I don't get it. A new remark was that this is why my dad died because my mom must have been like me. My dad died at 79 years old from emphysema long before I met my husband. He has told me before that he understands why my ex would hit me, I asked for it. My ex did hit me, that was why I divorced him, but how much is he searching for things to hurt me and why? I apologize for running on..but this is the first time I have actually felt comfortable talking about my life. I read from so many of you that have similar circumstances and I feel finally hopeful that I'm not the misery he says I am, maybe it isn't hate, but illness that drives this man. Thank you for listening.