ADHD Husband argues with me over EVERYTHING

A little background:  My husband was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, but was never treated or medicated.  He finally went to a counselor and got on Adderall earlier this week, but I am already at a breaking point.  He took the Adderall for 3 days, said it was making him nervous and stopped taking it.  He now got Concerta called into the pharmacy, but it requires pre-authorization through our insurance so he won't have it until next week some time.  Over the course of our 8 year relationship, married for 5, he has been selfish, mean, verbally abusive, stayed out all night partying after our daughter was born, etc.  He has come a long way, but now he constantly argues with me and then says "you started it" like a 5 year old.

I am the type of person who gets anxiety.  I hate conflict and avoid it at all costs.  How did I end up with a spouse who argues with me over everything?!  Here is an example of a ridiculous argument:  I work part-time evenings and all day Saturday.  I am at work and when I talked to my husband on the phone this morning I told him a friend had bought the kids McDonald's for lunch yesterday and please don't feed them fast food for lunch today.  He likes to get them Happy Meals on his Saturdays with them, but we limit the amount of fast food they eat to once every other week or so.  This is something we agreed on together, not something I suggested or mandated.  So when I asked him to not feed them McD's for lunch, he freaked out.  He said I am taking away his special "daddy day" and it's not fair to him.  He said I shouldn't tell him what to do.  He said he only gets this one day all day with them and I am ruining it.  I have learned over the years to not even bother to argue with him so I just said I'm going to get off the phone now.  He called back a half hour later and apologized for yelling at me, but then proceeded to tell me why I made him yell and what I did wrong.  In what I thought was a normal tone of voice said go ahead and feed them whatever you want, it's not that big of a deal and then he got angry AGAIN!  He told me I don't understand anything and I never get the point and then hung up on me.  This is a typical argument over NOTHING!  This happens every single day of my life.  Everything is my fault, I don't say things right, I made a weird face, I dont' know how to talk to people, I picked the wrong time to talk about something, I'm stupid.  He'll even tell the kids "mommy is stupid" sometimes.  I am calm, I do not yell and I do not let him rile me up anymore, I haven't in a long time.  But it's always all my fault.  I don't know how much longer I can take it.  I am walking on eggshells and even when I think I said something completely benign and ordinary, I get accused or attacked.  I just had to get this out.  Sometimes I think I'm the one going crazy or I start to believe that maybe I really don't know how to talk to people.  Does anyone else deal with this?  Is there a way to resolve it, or am I destined to eventually say enough is enough and get divorced?


I'm So Exhausted's picture

I Hear You: Husband argues with me over EVERYTHING

Dear Momof2toddlers,

Does it help at all to hear, "I understand." ?  Because I do.  Seems like everything with my ADHD spouse is a power struggle.  Or "I am right and you are wrong."    

One area I can say I am blessed in is the firm and fast rule of our relationship:   "No Character Asassination." What he does in infuriating, who he is - well he is the man God sent into my life 27 years ago.  

He has just started therapy again - this time specifically for ADHD.  I pray he has the right coach, because he is taking with him is a 2 page list . . . .of all the things he perceives are my faults and shortcomings.  

Our life has been full of him making mountains over molehills - when the deep painful issues get avoided, stomped out, diverted from.

I hear you, too

This is for Momof2, and everyone else (sorry, the reply button is obscured on my screen under the main post each time; I am not sure why). 

Does it help to have yet someone else out there say I understand? Because I do, too. I am in the beginnings of individual counseling for myself. DH refuses to go under any circumstances, even though his life is unraveling, and I have been begging him for years, partially due to his unmanaged ADHD. At the moment, I am here with him because he is very sick and because we have children and the idea of separating looms up fairly regularly, but I am not quite there yet. I am not sure why sometimes. I certainly can't imagine two, or five, or ten more years of this. I get anxiety, too, and I hate arguing. Hate it. This much stress is just terrible. 

My DH also refuses to take responsibility for just about any aspect of his behavior, or see it from my point of view, is very quick to anger, and is so defensive that until recently, I felt responsible for just about every issue we have. I thought I was crazy. Anything long range, reccurring, or important just can't be discussed or dealt with but he makes a huge deal out of things that affect him. And no, I don't think you are making a big deal out of nothing. Your fast food story is emblematic of larger issues, of agreements or wishes that get disregarded. Mine this afternoon was his consistent practice of making a huge mess, and undoing work that I have done, and then yelling at me and getting mad when I mention it. I am pretty tired, and it is hard to do housework, and he invited an old friend over (without talking to me about it) so I tried to clean up because the state of our house, largely due to him, is embarrassing for me. I took the gas stove apart and scrubbed the whole thing, because it was pretty dirty. And sure enough, like clockwork, he fried up a big pan of hamburgers on it right after. I walked in, and there was the greasy pan in the sink, and oil and meat splattered everywhere: the wall, the stove, under the burners, the floor. I just got tears in my eyes, because when I mentioned it (I tried to say evenly, I really did, "you know, we have talked about this before. I just spent 1/2 an hour taking the stove apart and cleaning it and the kitchen and you used a pan without a lid and splattered grease all over it right after I finished." And he became defensive, and yelled, and said "Fine, if it is that big a deal, I'll clean it up--I made burgers for the kids."  (He says that, but he won't. It will sit there for days and he won't clean it up. I am not being negative or mean. He just won't--he hasn't cleaned a stove or toilet or counter or floor in years.) I do appreciate that he tried to cook for the kids and I know with ADHD it is hard for him to think about making the mess, but I just wish there were some empathy, just an ounce, at me having my time and work undone. I was so disheartened and his defensive response just made me feel like he. does. not. care. at. all. And his tactic is always to turn it on me, to make me seem like an uptight b*&ch because of it, or ungrateful that he cooked. Same thing with the microwave. Seriously, I have let go of the big things, and I do just about everything, and all I ask is that he puts a paper towel over a bowl of freaking chili before he hits the button, I have asked nicely SO many times, and it is like he won't do it on purpose now because I am so ridiculous asking. He even tries to run it in short bursts so that it won't get too hot all at once and not pop or explode...all to avoid having to deal with putting a towel over it. If that doesn't illustrate ADHD, I don't know what does, lol). And guess who gets stuck scraping the dried exploded beans off the inside of the microwave later when his mother visits? 

It feels painful, disrespectful, awful to have your spouse act as if you are not important. Mine also occasionally badmouths me to our children, ("you better hurry up or your mom will get mad and yell like she does!") and it is like having a knife stuck in my heart. I am so sorry to hear that your DH calls you stupid. You don't deserve it. One mistake we have made is that our family doctor prescribed meds for my DH without suggesting or emphasizing the importance of counseling. DH took meds to be able to work, and they do help him be more alert and even during the day, but they alone don't help with anger, defensiveness, impulsiveness, and disorganization. Frequently he forgot to take them. Perhaps you can check into counseling for at least yourself. It is pretty incredible to have a sane person look at you and tell you that of course this would be upsetting, and that you are not crazy. Best of luck to you, and thanks for letting me rant as well. Rough day. 



Thank you

It is nice to hear I'm not alone.  When someone you love constantly tells you everything is your fault and it's how you talk to them, etc. you do start to question you're own sanity.  But then my rational brain kicks in and I think "this behavior of his is NOT normal".  This is not how normal, healthy people react to a simple question, request, etc.  If you told the average person walking down the street some of these stories, they'd look at you like you're crazy and ask why do you stay with someone who talks to you like that?!  

Once I got home from work, things got even worse.  My MIL was over for dinner and my husband exploded in anger over what his sister feeds her kids for dinner.  That's not crazy at all, right :-)  He seems to have gotten a lot worse since he was on the Adderall for 3 days and then stopped it.

You can vent to me anytime!  I hope your day got a little better.  I know exactly how you feel with the story about cleaning the stove and him undoing all your hard work.  And like you said, it's not the mess he made, it's that they don't seem to care how we feel at all.

I'm So Exhausted's picture

Their Normal is not Our Normal

I have recently learned is that in fact some of  my spouse's thinking is normal - for him.  It is not my normal - but definitely his.  Trying to get him to understand how his behavior effects others, and that I need him to acknowledge my frustration - that is the hard part for me.


Hi momof2,

(I remember when I had two toddlers at the same time! Props to you.) 

One thing I have become very aware of is how delicate brain chemistry is, and how medication can alter it and behavior significantly. From what I understand, ADHD meds can be like depression or thyroid or any other meds that regulate delicate levels---there is a sensitivity in how that chemistry is shifted, and some see-sawing at times when levels go back and forth. It can take time and patience to figure out the right amount, and anything new introduced into the mix can throw it off again. Hang in there. I hope that when the new medication comes in, it makes a difference for you and your DH. I hope your day today is a bit better. 



This is all "textbook" for my DH... 

I moved out, b/c I didn't like, or recognize, the person in the mirror anymore.  (Like said above)


Nice to hear we're not alone - but still can't cope

I am home today, left work around lunch time as I just feel like crying.  It's been like that a lot.

Can't cope anymore. My ADHD husband argues about EVERYTHING as well. It just seems like nothing I do or say is right. Yesterday, I couldn't even pick the right seats at the theater - which was completely full, so very little choice left. I had gone in ahead at his request to look for seats with the kids while he got snacks. He threatened to leave the theater and go back home. He didn't but complained after the movies that his head was hurting because of the seats I picked.

I can't cope anymore. I can't function. Over the last few months, I have given up. Basically, I do whatever he says. I make a decision / suggestion, he second guesses / questions, we go with what he says. He doesn't make decisions, he doesn't have an opinion unless I do.He doesn't contribute? I shut up and do it all. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, homework, paying the bills etc... He sits on the couch, watches TV, plays video games, goes to bed at unreasonable times, doesn't get up in the morning. I say nothing.

Is it capitulating? Yes. Is it healthy? No. But we fight less. For a while. Then he complains that he doesn't want me to do what what he wants. Why does he tell me what to do then? I have no clue.

I don't get involved in his treatment. He is on meds. He does therapy although he has not been in a few months. 



I'm So Exhausted's picture

"I shut up and do it all" Been there. Done that.

I read your response and understand where you are coming from.  I want to share with you my experience on "I shut up and do it all."  I did that, too.  For 25 years. 

Then the light bulb of realization came on, and I said, "No more." 

Unfortunately, what had happened over those 25 years was I had set a very bad precedent for my children.  When I finally decided I would not shoulder all the responsibilities, would not always yield to what he wanted to do, and I started to say, "No, I don't like that." , the repercussions were deafening.  It caused a holy uproar in my family. 

My 19 year old daughter was angry at me for making everything a mess.  One day she said to me, "Mom, if you just wouldn't say anything, everything would be fine." 

Ouch.  That was like a punch in the gut.  My actions had taught my daughter that a person should just give in, yield, make the peace. It has been 22 months since I  said, "No more."  It has been rough.  But I do see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I really believe my ADHD spouse's anger is turning into a tiny bit of self awareness.  I am hoping that I can continue to figure out what actions I can take, what I can say, what I should and should not be saying, that will encourage him to seek coaching in managing his ADHD.   

I worry about that too

I hate the example that I am giving my daughter to just be silent, do what the man says, work your a$$ off at home while he lounges. I really hate it.

But I also really hate arguing. And by shutting up right now it give at least some time away from the arguments. Some peace. And by doing it all, I at least have a decently tidy house - I have learned to live with some chaos - tidy enough that it doesn't raise my stress level any more than it already is.

I feel stuck you know?


I'm So Exhausted's picture

I know what it's like to feel stuck

It is a rough spot to be.  Disagreements in what is the acceptable level of tidiness causes lots of hardships in my home.  I am blessed that my husband is anything but lazy.  He works from the minute he opens his eyes in the morning, until he closes his eyes for sleep at night.  Getting him to assume some of the responsibility for housework/paperwork/laundry/errands etc. is where we run into problems.  He always has so many other irons in the fire - and most are only half done.  I see many as mundane - optional and not necessary for everyday life.  My logic sees them as extra projects that should be worked on when the daily load of chores are finished.  There's the rub!  

reply to Lynninny

Gee Weezz,

Sounds like we are married to the same guy!!!!!!


Sometimes I wonder about all these things we talk about. So many similarities and sometimes the behaviors are on the opposite side of the ADD / Non-ADD relationship. My DW does not want to go to couples therapy, I've asked her many times to go because of a few well documented issues I've posted about here. I've explained that these issues need direction from a Pro, since we keep getting stuck. Even the kitchen example... I'll come home and after completely going OCD on the kitchen (Well documented too ;) and have to do it all over again. If I cook dinner, I clean up too, because I'll end up having to re-do half of it anyway, or it won't get done and I'll have a real mess later. I pride myself in picking up and keeping the kitchen cleaned. I'm the organized one too (WTH?!?) I'm the ADDDadof2 ;) 

I tell you what though... I sorry you Non-ADDer's have put up with all the ADD Oblivion (I certainly was oblivious), but also the Raging ADDer sounds just awful. Really the ANGRY spouse causing the other to do the "Eggshell Walk" needs help. Anger is some real abuse, especially when it is uncontrolled. ADD can cause ADDer's to be abusive (No excuse though!) they need to get help. I've seen my share of Anger too... My DW used to say it was the only way to get my attention. (No Excuse Either). My attention is much better, I try much harder and I will not just shut down anymore after one of the sudden outbursts anymore. This is a major change in our dynamic and still is a work in progress.

I hope things improve for you NewDogsWife, you deserve a break ;) 

Such a mess

Lynn, OMG, the microwave! I can't even tell you how many times I've scrubbed that sucker. And each time, I explain that I've just spent 30 minutes cleaning it, it's my least favorite chore ever, and all "we" need to do to prevent having to do that again is put a paper towel or napkin over the food. And you know, not even 2 days later there's sauce and cheese and bits of god knows what else splattered all over the inside. It just feels disrespectful.

My DH will not acknowledge how his behavior makes me feel, can never see anything from my perspective, is incredibly defensive, and all around very hostile. Like, I can see the anger bubbling just below the surface and I know that no matter what I do or say, he'll interpret something in a way that sets him off, or he'll accuse me of having a negative tone or making a mean's unavoidable. So even when I try to say nothing to avoid an outburst, my silence sets him off.

Momof2, I second the notion that you seek counseling for yourself. It is nice to have someone tell you that you're not crazy and that he's manipulating you by saying these things, but it's also very tough for me to go in week after week and talk about the same's hard when you just don't see any progress. I've changed how I respond to DH, but he still acts and behaves the same. So I clearly need to work on my expectations and decide what I can and cannot live with. I'm still hopeful that things will improve, but I also need to figure out what I will do if things never change. And how long am I willing to wait? When is it appropriate to cut my losses? 


Man, Oh Man

Boy honey, do I ever hear you.

Things like this were the original base for the issues that just got worse from there.

I highly suggest individual counseling.

Rational detatchment is highly valuable here.

Just sayin'

I feel your pain.  My husband

I feel your pain.  My husband constantly seems to find things to argue about.  I did find in my research after his diagnosis that some ADD/ADHD'er find arguing stimulating to their minds.  However, I am like you.  I don't enjoy arguing.  I also suffer from anxiety (who knows if it's a side effect of living in a house full of ADD'ers or just me).  Arguing makes me very uncomfortable and I'm very sensitive to tones and body language.  I'm constantly saying it's not necessarily what you said it was how you said it.  After reading this tidbit, I did bring it to his attention and said maybe your brain needs this type of communication and now that you are on meds it's just a habit, but it's something I can't deal with everyday.

Of course, every couple is going to have disagreements and/or heated debates/arguments.  What I don't expect is to live every day of my life engaged in some type of argument be it important or not.  I also don't like feel like walking on eggshells or trying to constantly think what is the best way to say this or that.  

I actually have a degree in social work and was trained how to communicate with people.  However, most of this training has been effective with my husband.  It could be because I'm too close to him as opposed to someone I work with and have all the hurt and anger with him that I don't have with others.  I have employed my training to explain to him how to communicate.  He is a very smart man and loves to see proof, but even presented with proof he can still try to argue that isn't correct or correct for him.

I have been successful and asking for a moment to interrupt to calmly bring it to his attention that he is raising his voice and/or his tone is anything but pleasant.  Sometimes that has worked.  I've also interrupted to ask, what are you really angry about.  I know the petty argument he has or is trying to pick isn't what he is upset about.  That has helped as well.  I've also told him I would start recording conversations/arguments so that he could actually hear what I hear when he speaks.  I haven't actually done it yet, I've just mentioned when things are getting to that point to hold on and let me get something to record this with and he seems to calm his tone.

I have noticed when he has maintained a regular sleep schedule as much as possible (he has sleep apnea and works rotating shifts) and he has consistently exercised his moods dramatically improve and the arguments are virtually non-existent.  If I know he hasn't slept well or exercised and/or has had a stressful day at work I try to avoid any conversation or particular words that may be mistaken for accusations.  

I know these tend to be suggestions that put the burden back on you.  If your husband is worth the extra effort and is willing to try the arguing may not end completely but maybe it won't be a daily issue.  

My husband isn't a bad man, he has way more pros than cons.  I will say he at least appears to try.  Would I like to live a life where I could have him without all the hurtful side effects of the ADD?  YES!!!  Is that possible?  Doubtful.  I kinda look at it like having a baby.  You can have this awesome little bundle of joy who provides you with more love, joy, and happiness than you could ever imagine.  However, there are side effects to having a baby if it's nothing more than stretch marks on your body for the rest of your life or countless hours of missed sleep that causes you to gain weight, be less productive, or make you physically ill, and the years of stress worrying and trying to do the best thing for your child.  So, for all this joy there are still side effects that can drive you crazy.

I hit my breaking points at different intervals.  I can see improvement, start to breath a sigh of relief and then he does or doesn't do something and things start to spiral out of control.  I start to see day after day a return to the old ways and begin my downward spiral.  

I kinda look at dealing with my husband and children's ADD like I maintain my weight.  If I miss a work out, no big deal, but when life starts getting in the way and I start missing more and more work outs and because I'm so busy fast food is the easier option than something healthier.  Well, before you know it what started out as no big deal missing a work out has eventually led me almost back where I started and now I have to work even harder to get the pounds off that I gained during my break.

If I want the body I want I know I have to exercise and watch what I eat.  Doesn't matter what got in the way to set me off track, if I want that body I have to get back to my routine and do the work.  So, if I want a more pleasant home life what is my part?  Can I help remind my husband that he needs to get up early in the morning for work so watching a movie late in the evening isn't probably the best idea.  I already know that he has ADD, I know that impulsivity and what's fun at the moment will always catch his attention before thinking I have to get up at 4, so if I stay up and watch this movie I won't get to bed until 12 and I need get get at least 6 hours of sleep at night so that I am not as stressed and have enough energy to work out and do what I need at work.  Do I get upset if I want a huge bowl of ice cream at night and he reminds me that I will want to get in a bikini next month?  No  

In order to help myself, I have to be able to do the hard work.  If I want the killer body, I know I have to work hard everyday for it.  If I want the killer home life, I know I have to work hard everyday for it.  Are some days easier than others?  Yes.  Just like some days it's easier for me to get up, get my work out gear on, and get to the gym a couple of hours.  Some days it's easier for me to eat plain chicken breast and plain veggies instead of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  Well, at home, some days it's easier than others.  Some days I hate feeling like I have to say honey, I'd love to watch that movie with you but you have to get up early in the morning for work.  I would love for him to just know these things, but sometimes I have to hear do you really want that ice cream or do you want to get in that bikini.

I'm not suggesting you do everything for him or you have to take the verbal abuse.  I compared this to weight loss.  If I want to lose weight I have to do the hard work.  So, if I want peace in my house again I have to do the hard work.  This doesn't mean I do everything or take his verbal assaults because it makes his brain feel better.  What I mean by the hard work is the research, the reaching out for advice, the calm thoughts and time I need to step away from the chaos, going to therapy, reminding myself that a lot of the flaws are ADD and learn how to work around or with those hurtful side effects the best way I/we can.  

Me too

I just read your post and wanted to say your not alone. Ive been with my husband for 6 years. He was amazing until we got married. Then he too started blaming me for everything. We work together so were never apart. He has AdHD,Ocd and anger problems. He yells at me infront of employees and even infront of time he paid more attention to a girl at work I know nothing happened but it hurt me because of what I went thru in my prior marriage and trusted him that he wouldnt hurt me. He told everyone at work and it was hard for me to go in there but i did i kept my head up. That went on for 1 year he apoligized and shes still there. Her n I are now like sisters. N im over it. But he keeps saying im jealous. He looks at everything I do and he thinks he knows what Im thinking. Like if I say something he turns it around and gets defensive. He expects me to stop everything for him.if Im looking down in the wine box hell say youre always depressed. And im not i was really in a good mood. Hes on tons of medicines and drinks not alo. He takes percosets for his collitis. Which the dr is weaning him off. He gets hyper and nasty. At night is the worst he constantly puts me down. He calls me names. Tells me im slow at work. Im not everyone loves me. The customers tell me they come in for me. I do so much for him and it hurts me that he he probably will never see it. He ondees why im in a bad mood in morning. Gee is it because you put me down all night. In morning hes nice as pie. I truly love him but if he continues i must pack my bags. I do not deserve this.