can ADHD traumatize non ADHD spouse? help please

I have been with my partner for 3 years (I am the non-ADHD partner).  He has known since he was a child that he had ADHD and was medicated for it at a young age but stopped taking medication up until about a month ago.  At first he seemed so charming and great with my children, understanding and fun and spontaneous.  Sine then, he has done many things that have harmed my sense of security and safety in the relationship including: not following through, repeatedly apologizing for behaviors that he then does again less than a day later (always with a new apology), interrupting and talking over me constantly, misquoting me and acting generally EXTREMELY defensive whenever I have any opinion about anything, baiting me by asking me lots of questions and getting angry when I don't answer but making it into hours long debates when I do, obsessing about all my past decisions, friends, ex-partners and insisting on criticizing and talking about my past constantly (when I don't answer his questions he tells me I'm not being open..we never talk about his past), not being there for me emotionally, and acting in what appears to be completely selfish manner a lot of the time (eating all the food in the house, leaving the house without leaving me any money or a phone), cheating, taking calls during dinner, ruining holidays by creating conflict, lying, acting out hours and hours of drama when something bad happens to him and expecting support that he doesn't give anyone else, making promises to the children that he doesn't keep, losing himself for days in the computer, numerous projects, etc. then getting angry when I want to listen to music for a few minutes or watch a tv show, and worst of all not respecting any of my personal boundaries (following me all over the house when I beg him to give me time to cool off, going through my wallet and "cleaning it out for me" or taking my credit card and forgetting to return it, embarassing me in front of my family (when I ask him to stop he argues about the validity of my embarassment and continues to do it).  It has gotten to the point where I stay up really late at night just to have a few hours where there is some peace in the house and no arguing.  This year we got in a car wreck while I was 6 months pregnant (he has been in numerous collisions..though this was a rear end), a lost job and a move.  The constant stress and emotional overload of dealing with all of this and feeling that nothing I do will make it stop or give me a moment of peace or allow me to be an individual has changed my personality.  I have gone from being a relatively calm and patient person to having a short temper, getting so angry I explode, constant anxiety over getting in the car with him, going to bed with him, or just doing normal everyday things (he often gets angry over disjointed things like "you closed the door too hard" "you didn't squeeze my hand back when I squeezed yours" "you looked at me funny" etc.  Most recently he got angry because I asked him what he was having for dinner.)  I am basically scared to do anything and I feel traumatized and terrorized.  I have often felt there is no way out and my efforts to discuss these things with him have ended in SOME very very slow change on his part but also hundreds of hours of communication effort on my part that end up feelings completely wasted...he forgets I said things 5 seconds after I say them, agrees to things does them anyway then sais he "didn't understand" what he agreed to, etc.  I explain things over and over and over and he apologizes over and over and over.  I am certainly not making any generalized statements about others with ADHD..but I just want to know is all of that normal.. or is it abuse?  i am desperate and could really use some feedback/support/anything you have to offer.  I talk to no one about these issues and we cannot afford a therapist.  Thanks.

I believe what you are

I believe what you are experiencing is a directly result of his ADHD behavior (which can also become abuse).  The two are the same in this case.  My husband  became verbally, emotionally, and then physically abusive to me and his ADHD behaviors were making his life unbearable.  I thought I was going to go nuts.  Abuse was the way he communicated with me.  But your question to whether or not it is normal is no for some and yes for others.  My husband has done many of the things that yours has, and I too have become very angry and constantly filled with anxiety.  I felt traumatized (you probably have some form of PTSD) and scared to do anything.  I walked on eggshells, scared to make my husband mad or even a bit annoyed.  I finially called a counselor when he gave me a split lip.  A counselor helped me to get out of the craziness.  You said that "we" cannot afford a therapist.  I would put no "we" in there because this is not realistic to fix the "we" part.  In his mindset, couple's counseling could be very detrimental for you if you use the wrong one.  I know I may get blasted for that comment, but this is not a situation where the partner wants help.  Can you see a woman's resource center?   They have counselors for free and can give you tools to help you leave if you choose to.  I feel bad for the fact that your partner has ADHD, but he is the only one who can fix himself.  I hope that you are able to get out of this situation, rather than spend the next 10-20 years in misery.  You deserve to be treated with love and respect and so do your children. 

I completely agree...get help

I completely agree...get help on your own and find yourself again so that you'll have the strength to do what is best for YOU in this situation..putting all else (love, guilt, etc) aside. Counseling is a waste of money and time for someone who isn't willing to acknowledge their least that has been my experience.

I will cosign

I say get help for yourself. Your situation might have been different from mine but couple's therapy did nothing for my situation - except make it worse. As SherriW13 said, it's useless if the other party isn't going to acknowledge their role in the breakdown of the relationship, and it would be even worse to you if that blame was shifted to you. As someone who got blindsided by my now ex ADHD spouse, I would say that mine didn't reach the point of being physically abusive, but it did get to a point where my self-esteem and confidence hit such a low point due to many of the reasons you explained in your post. You have been in your situation for some time now, and it's going to take one day at a time to find yourself, your peace, and if you have lost it, your confidence. This is a great support group so keep reading the posts. I will put you in my prayers if you don't mind!

This is also a national abuse

This is also a national abuse hotline that is free to talk to.  You can call them, tell them about the behaviors and ask them if they think it is abuse.  To me your situation seems to have crossed the line between typical ADHD and abuse.  To me it seems more on the abusive side.  Also, you have some PTSD from the car accident and are still afraid to get into a car with him (which is understandable).  It doesnt sound like a good situation.  First of all take care of yourself, call the hotline see what they think, pray and ask God for help (this I do all the time).  Remember you are worth more than these things he is doing to you.  To me it just doesn't seem right, I dont have a good "vibe" about it, it may just get worse.  


First, clearly your partner is not adequately treating his ADHD.  The issues that you describe are related to symptoms that are still out of control.  Good treatment is multi-modal, meaning that it includes much more than just taking medications (and it's possible the meds aren't fully optimized either, since he's just been taking them a short time again.)

Second, you are clearly suffering.  Please seek help in the form of a therapist who understand ADHD issues (one who doesn't may give you incorrect advice).  You can find some folks who could help you in my resources area.  Another good resource is your local CHADD chapter or the Psychology Today website listings.

Third, read my book.  This will help you better identify what's related to ADHD issues.  If at all possible, get your husband to read it, too, as it will open his eyes.

Fourth, make sure you have friends with whom you are staying in touch.  As you go through this process it's important that you have strong connections in your life, even as your relationship with your partner is difficult.


i absolutely agree with these other comments. your situation sounds so familiar, after staying in a marriage to an adhd husband with several other problems for too long, out of fear for how he would try to turn my boys against me if i tried to end it, i have had a long road to recovery, finding myself again. i too lost myself, waiting until my boys were in middle school before i felt they would be able to stand up for themselves somewhat if he tried to do anything stupid with them (like drink and drive), hoping that the threat of divorce would prompt him to do something about something, i finally did it and have had hell to pay for it. he did try to turn my boys against me, it so far has worked with one, but not the other. i wish i had done it much sooner but i was also worried about finances, as i have always stayed at home with my kids and not held a job. counseling also only made things worse for us, the counselor barely mentioned his adhd when we went in for sessions, and living in an isolated small town there were few counselors to see, we saw all of them at one time or another over the course of years. as we were going through all our married problems, because the counselor didn't pick up on it, i never realized what he had was adhd until my older boy was diagnosed with it, then i started reading and realized his dad also had it as well. this site has been good for me, to realize that so many others are/have experienced similar situations to my own.