I do not have ADD and my husband does. He has known he has ADD for over 10 years and, although he has tried meds in the past, he is not currently taking any. We are in couples counseling (our counselor does not specialize in ADD) but he refuses to go to individual counseling.
I grew up in a home where we literally NEVER fought loudly. Most of the time, issues were just pushed under the rug. My husband grew up in a family where yelling was a regular occurrence. The commonality in our households was that nothing ever got resolved in either. My husband and I have been married for just under 2 years and have a 5 month old daughter (which has added to our stress and fighting 100-fold).
I find myself doing SO much to avoid his angry outbursts!! He is a foot taller than me and over 100 pounds heavier. I have told him before that his anger scares me and his response is, "I don't know what you're talking about. You haven't even seem me get really angry." I feel like he's yelling when he raises his voice and he says he's not. He has never been physically aggressive with me but I have seen him smash a bottle on the ground in anger (years ago). He blamed my fear over that incident on me and told me I just need to love him for who he is or I could leave. When we argue, my anxiety goes through the roof and I am paralyzed from having a constructive conversation. Ironically, I am a marriage and family therapist, and have done A LOT of work on myself and my family issues. I prefer to have a calm, rational discussion about issues that arise between us. I want to figure out solutions to our issues and not just keep arguing and hurting each other. I'm completely fine if he needs to take some time to cool down before we do that. It doesn't have to happen in the heat of the moment. Somehow though, I think he thrives/needs to have that shouting battle before he can calm down. He often will yell at ME for not getting MORE outwardly upset about a situation. Sometimes I reach my breaking point and I do yell but I hate feeling so out of control and it even seems to create some sort of twisted power shift towards him when he finally provokes me enough that I will yell back. It's like he "won" or something.
One thing I can't stand about his anger is that he will be in a bad mood and sometimes get deeply depressed for the ENTIRE day from something I consider to be trivial (I realize this is just my opinion and obviously whatever it is upsets him greatly).
- If HE forgets where he put something, I will rush to find it for him (I have a great visual memory and usually remember where I last saw his wallet, computer, etc) because otherwise, he will get angry, raise his voice and stomp around the house. If he doesn't find what he's looking for, he just gets more and more upset and my anxiety goes way up.
- If I ask him to do something, he often takes it personally. For example, he borrowed my new, expensive digital camera to take some pictures of a job site and he wanted to take it without the case. He got angry when I wanted him to take it in the case, especially because I would have had to look around a bit to find the case and he was in a hurry. So, I conceded and simply said, "Please be careful with it". Wow, did he get upset when I said this. He raised his voice and said, "What do you think I am...an idiot?!! Do you think I don't know how to handle a camera?!!" I told him that I neither thought he was an idiot, nor did I think he couldn't handle a camera, but it was too late. He was SO angry about things he HEARD that I DID NOT say! I feel as if I'm constantly trying to stroke his fragile ego when he hears things that I DON'T say. His mom communicates in hidden messages (always saying what she doesn't mean and expecting people to "hear" and respond to her hidden message). I am an extremely straightforward person and will almost always say what I mean. I am NOT like his mom in that way at all but he is up against over 30 years of learning that nothing is communicated directly.
- If we are running late (usually because of him), I feel like I have to walk on egg shells. I try not to tell him to hurry or even appear as if I'm frustrated about being late. The tiniest little change in my mood or the "wrong" comment will set him off on an angry tirade. The worst part is that if he is driving and we are late, he is, in my opinion, a dangerous driver. I have never been a fan of his driving (he waits until the last minute to cut over 3 lanes and take our exit, speeds, etc) but when he is angry, it's truly scary. He thinks I'm overreacting and tells me he is in control and I shouldn't worry. I try to tell him that it's not just him I'm worried about but the other drivers on the road as well (as if my blaming others will somehow fool him into driving safely). If I tell him I would like to drive, he REALLY gets angry (at me) and thinks I'm calling him incompetent. Somehow, I'm the irrational and mean one for not trusting him. We were late for his sisters wedding a couple of years ago, he was driving and his brother was tagging along with us. He was driving his typically reckless way and his brother asked him to slow down. Woah! He instantly started yelling and eventually slammed on the brakes and made his brother get out of the car and was going to leave him behind with no way to get the the wedding (which was 40 or so miles away). I did my usual ego stroking and apologizing for his brother (which just makes me disgusted with myself) and my husband eventually turned around and picked up his brother again. The driving got slightly better but he was still speeding way faster than I would have liked.
I could continue to write examples but I probably don't need to. I realize that a lot of this is my issue. I know his behavior is not my issue but the way I respond to the anxiety I feel, is my issue. I think it is no conincidence that he married someone who wants to keep the peace at any cost, which allows him to continue behaving in whatever tyrannical way he choses.