I am a 25yo woman married to a man with ADD (he calls it ADD because he does not have the hyperactivity component). He was diagnosed as a child but did not start taking medication until college. We have been married for almost 2 years and our marriage is overall very happy. However, there is an issue in our relationship that has really taken a toll on both of us. Since I am new to this site, I am not sure if this problem has to do with ADD. So, I am wondering how much can be attributed to ADD and how much is my fault.
The first issue is that our fights always follow the same pattern - a pattern that is very toxic for both of us and hurtful for me. First, I get upset about something that he has said or done. I tell him, as calmly as I can, that what he did bothered me. I'm sure I sometimes have anger in my voice, but I don't think I usually raise my voice at this stage. Then, he usually says that he can't see anything wrong with what he's done. One of his catch phrases is "Who cares?" Of course, I respond that I care. This continues for a little bit and the argument gets more heated. I have trouble backing off because I want him to understand why I'm upset, and I also hate leaving fights unresolved. In the end, he always explodes. He starts screaming at me in a really scary bellowing tone. He screams, "You wanted a fight, and now you've got one! You're never satisfied until I start screaming!" Inevitably, I start to cry and plead with him, trying to convince him that the last thing I wanted was a fight. He sometimes starts "smashing" things. For example, twice he has smashed his laptop shut, breaking the screen. He always screams at me to leave him alone, but (and this is probably my fault) I hate to leave fights unresolved, so I tell him that we need to talk it out calmly. He usually begins sulking and often tries to go to sleep, even if it's early in the evening. I absolutely hate the way he shuts down and goes to sleep like nothing is wrong! Meanwhile, I can't fall asleep for hours because I am so upset. If the fight is particularly big, his sulking can last for days.
The worst part about all of this is that whenever he explodes, I always end up apologizing for everything and pleading with him not to be mad at me. He refuses to take any responsibility for exploding. He claims that he never, ever gets angry unless it is in response to something I've done. He claims that he never initiates fights; instead, I always initiate fights and he defends himself until he can't anymore, and then he explodes. Therefore, I always end up taking the blame for everything, and he seems satisfied with this outcome and "forgives" me.
A recent example involved a rotisserie chicken. While I was headed home from work, he called me and said he was at the grocery store. I said I wanted to cook chicken breasts for dinner and asked him to pick some up. Instead, he came home with a rotisserie chicken. I said, "You should have called me on your way home so I would have had the veggies ready." He didn't see why. I explained that if the veggies were ready, we could eat while the chicken was still hot. He said, "Who cares if the chicken is cold?" Well, I explained that I do! Then he said, "Well, I thought you were cooking chicken breast." Huh? He explained that he had also bought raw chicken breasts for me to cook. I couldn't understand why he would buy a rotisserie chicken and also expect me to cook chicken breasts! Then, while I started cooking, he started eating the rotisserie chicken. I got frustrated and asked him, "Which do you want - the rotisserie chicken or the chicken breast?" He insisted that he didn't care. I got angry at him for sending me mixed signals. I said that I just wanted to cook whatever he wanted and he should just be clear with me about what his plan is. Then, after some bickering, he exploded.
I have tried talking to my husband about these fight dynamics. He insists that he goes through life completely happy - it's true that he has an unusually high level of happiness - until I find a reason to be mad at him. He thinks that I have a psychological need to fight, and therefore I pick fights for no reason whenever that need arises.
However, he has also claimed that fights are my fault when that connection is not close in time. For example, one subject that he has been hyperfocused on for years is diet and nutrition. Recently, I told him that I was trying to clean up my diet but I was finding it really hard to give up sugar. He started yelling at me right away, saying, "Of course, that's because you're **** addicted to sugar!" I pleaded with him to calm down, and he said, "What? It's okay for you to scream at me whenever you have low blood sugar, but when I scream in response, it's not okay?" (Everything had been perfectly fine with us for the past few days.) I pointed out, again, that he shouldn't yell at me when I haven't done anything. He claimed that he was only yelling at me in "response" to the way I treat him when I get cranky from low blood sugar. (While it's certainly true that I can get cranky when I'm hungry, the timing of his response seemed random to me.) Therefore, I feel like I'm walking on eggshells with him. This is especially true because I often try to show an interest in diet since he's so focused on it, but sometimes this can backfire, as in the above example.
Do you think that our pattern of fighting has something to do with ADD? If so, do you have any quick tips on how we can both work on this dynamic? I realize that some (much?) of this is my fault, but I just feel like the arguments get out of my control so quickly. I also wish that my husband would try to understand why I am upset or would accept at least some of the blame when we fight. Best of all, I wish that we could find a way to fight that avoids the explosions altogether. Thank you very much.