Anger and ADHD go together frequently, and as may be expected, this anger and resentment can consume both partners. Advice such as “Let it go” can be interpreted as “Let him walk all over you” – this is not what I am suggesting for you.
I believe strongly that each person must find a method that works for them in order to release the pain and dark feelings that can make you ill. It may be counterintuitive, but letting go of your anger – essentially forgiving yourself and your spouse for your past – is a gift to yourself that frees you to move forward. “Letting go” is not ceding control, it’s taking control. It enables an independent spirit, allowing you to be in greater control of your life.
7 Dangerous Myths About Anger
If you find it difficult to envision how you might overcome anger, it could be that you are falling victim to some destructive myths about anger and ADHD.
Myth 1 – I can’t help it – my spouse drives me to It
Sure you can! Hand over the responsibility of “fixing” ADHD to the partner who has it, while at the same time reclaiming your own happiness. In addition, work diligently at training yourself to express anger in positive and constructive ways. By not “fixing” the ADHD partner or symptoms, you acknowledge that managing ADHD is the responsibility of your partner, and you can (and should) offer the “gift” of support, but accept responsibility only for you and your needs. Although you may fear that your partner will fail, it is in both of your best interests to avoid the feeling that you “must” take on certain things, as this will circle back to resentment and anger.
Myth 2 – My anger will force my partner to change
No it won’t! Managing ADHD symptoms is done best in a supportive environment that is based in love, commitment and time. An angry environment will force your partner to become defensive and angry in return, thus creating a poisonous environment that is the opposite of what an ADHD person needs in order to be successful. Not only will your anger not force a change, it will virtually assure that it doesn’t occur.
Myth 3 – My partner deserves it
Anger is a sign that things are out of balance and that changes must be addressed. Verbal abuse, yelling, screaming, belittling, shutting down or shutting out are forms of punishment and bullying. No one “deserves” to be punished by a spouse.
Myth 4 – Getting it all out will make me feel better
While short bursts of anger may be a good thing as it can release bad feelings and perhaps start a dialog, pervasive anger only worsens the relationship because the structural foundation and ability to work on the symptoms remains unchanged.
Myth 5 - It's not my ADHD...my partner's anger is the issue in our relationship
The anger that non-ADHD partners experience does create problems in the relationship, but a couple's problems are never just the fault of one partner. Over time, repetitive ADHD symptoms and 'under-functioning' encourage non-ADHD partners to 'over-function' and, often to experience chronic anger. In order to fix the issue, BOTH partners need to own their issues, and work to contribute themselves better to the relationship. That means managing ADHD fully, and elminiating anger in both partners.
Myth 6 – If I feel hopeless, I should disconnect
Exhaustion from a draining relationship is common, yet disconnection isn’t the solution. “I need to protect myself” is a phrase I hear, but it is important to recognize that the pain will not go away by disconnecting - and disconnection never makes a good marriage. Don’t disconnect; seek help.
Myth 7 – If I deny my ADHD, the problems will go away
ADHD won’t “go away”, but it needs to be effectively managed with treatment, preferably with a multi-pronged approach. Read more on optimizing your ADHD treatment in my free Optimizing Treatment for Adult ADHD e-book (see the home page).