Anger, Frustration & ADHD

My new book is about to be released, and it contains a significant section on overcoming “obstacle emotions” that keep you from improving your relationship (anger, fear, denial and hopelessness).  I’ve reprinted a very small portion of that section here for those who feel mired in anger.  This section is about the “myths” I sometimes hear people fall victim to about the “usefulness” or justification for their anger.

Six Dangerous Myths About Anger and ADHD

For a non-ADHD partner, it is SO frustrating to watch your spouse struggle without result.  You want her to do well.  You can see HOW she might improve things.  If you were doing them, it would be EASY.  Yet nothing changes.  How does a non-ADHD partner remain empathetic in this situation, rather than become angry? 

There is a standard "joke" that "on the internet they'll never know you're a dog".  As it turns out, we have our very own "dog" on this site.  For those of you who have been concerned about a poster named "Clinging to Life" and the histrionic responses of "Normal Mom" I would like to share that sad news that they are the SAME PERSON (also the same person as "Wild Child").  We know this from the log-in/out records for the site.  Incontrovertibly, these "three" people are one person, using the same computer.  Within minutes of logging out as one identity the user would log back in, from the same computer, under a different user name.  Unbelievable!

It is with some humor that I say that a very sensitive area of conflict for many couples is driving.  Most commonly, the conflict centers around the poor driving habits of an ADHD spouse (and why they can't/won't change them) and who is going to drive when.  There is more here than meets the eye, though, so I thought I would explore it a bit.  If you have conflicts over driving, read on!

As I've mentioned in many of my posts, I am by nature an impatient, angry person, not at all shy of conflict.  I've always felt that there was so much that I needed and wanted to do with my life, and nowhere near enough time to do it.  I like people and having a  good time, but to enjoy myself and fulfill my life responsibilities, I needed everyday life to move right along.  I had a fairly short fuse, and anybody who got in my way or made it more difficult made me mad.

How to help couples understand the destructiveness and intertwined nature of many of their interactions?  I was reading a novel the other day about civil war (an apt analogy for many ADHD marriages!) and came across some ideas that I think can help describe why couples get into negative patterns even when neither one of them wants to.

While my husband reads most of the posts on this site as the administrator, he rarely weighs in.  But yesterday he posted some heartfelt – and very wise - advice to a man with ADD whose wife is leaving him because she can’t take it anymore.  George’s perspective as a previously badly behaving man with ADD who has successfully changed his life is worth sharing.  Here’s what he says:

Are you angry that your ADD spouse is able to focus on something of great interest to him, and not to anything you want him to do (like the dishes, or childcare)? If so, you would not be alone.

I have just read a book on the topic of anger and relationships that Dr Hallowell suggested - it's great and would be very, very helpful to any woman who is trying to make sense out of why nothing seems to change in her relationship even though she keeps trying to "fix" it.  (Men would benefit, too, but the book happens to be written with women in mind).  I have been trying to figure out how to communicate how to move from "stuck" to a more fluid place where couples can actually make progress. 

You know you have ADD.  Your marriage is disintegrating and you think the ADD might have something to do with it, but you can’t figure out what to do improve things.  What do you do?  This post is very long, but worth the 10 minutes you’ll need to take to get through it as it gets at the very heart of what goes wrong in many ADD relationships.  I think every couple struggling with ADD can learn important coping skills from my response to this man’s question.