dealing with anger... running out of options

Hi everyone. I've been reading this forum for a while but I'm still pretty new to all this. I feel like I am running out of options here, so I would really appreciate any help. Sorry for the long message.

My husband was finally officially diagnosed with ADHD 2 months ago. I say finally, because it took me 3 years to get him to see someone or realize that there is a problem (although he did seek help a few years before our marriage on his own and sort of got a similar diagnosis but claimed treatment didn't help and did nothing else about it). He saw a psychiatrist who prescribed him Dexamphitamine "as needed" at the first appointment, saw him a month later for half an hour to hear my husband report "it's working" and told him "see you in 6 months". He also seems to encourage my husband to smoke pot (or at least that's what my husband thinks) which is illegal in Australia - where we live.  He insists on smoking almost every night and seems to be addicted but refuses to see that. In our city there are only 5 ADHD specialists, and most don't take new patients. This one was the 4th or 5th that the doctor called when making a referral. My husband had to wait for over 3 months to get an appointment. As a non-ADHD spouse, it's pretty hard for me to get an appointment with ADHD specialist while my partner's one wouldn't discuss anything with me because of confidentiality. For the first appointment, I wrote a letter listing the symptoms I observed and expressing my concerns (as suggested in some books). The psychiatrist read it, said "it's textbook ADHD", was going to discuss "family" with my husband at the second appointment, but when the second appointment came.. he didn't.

The major problem I am dealing with is angry outbursts, attacks, put downs and blame. The yelling just doesn't stop once he gets going. It's impossible to discuss anything calmly for him. I tried asking him to discuss things calmly, I tried telling him that name-calling is unacceptable, I try to establish boundaries, I walk away if he doesn't stop. He follows me to the room yelling or yells outside of the door and then finally walks away. When I'm back around him, 20 minutes or later, and try to discuss the same issue, the same yelling happens. If I don't discuss this issue, we start doing something happy and positive, but he suddenly finds something else to get upset about and yells at me again. He sometimes admits that he has a yelling problem and claims he is "working on it"  but he is doing nothing about it. He refuses to read books on ADHD, he refuses to go to a psychologist alone or together, he doesn't bring up this problem with his psychiatrist. Other times, he claims it's my problem, it's me who needs to take medication. Any small difference in opinion or a disagreement is dealt with yelling, put downs, name-calling and blaming on his part. I'm really frustrated and starting to feel hopeless because it's impossible to resolve anything with him, unless I do everything the way he demands. If he thinks one way, then it's right, because it's HIS opinion and it's logical. Mine is unreasonable, unreal and wrong. Sometimes I feel like the whole day he is yelling because of this or that. He does better on Dex, but he doesn't take it every day or with regularity.

I have gone to psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers... They all agree that he has a problem and he needs to deal with it. The only option I'm being suggested right now is to tell him that I will leave if he doesn't get his act together. I am 5 months pregnant so neither leaving nor staying feels like a great situation at the moment. Now that his psychiatrist said "see you in 6 months" without teaching him any new skills, discussing any real problems and ways to address them, or even explaining that HE has some of these problems, I don't know what to do. It took me so long to convince my husband  to see this one to begin with, that getting him to see another (maybe) psychologist and work on problems is even harder now. Last time I brought up the idea of us going to get help, I got the response "It will never work because no one can convince YOU that you have a problem!".

I don't want to sound like I'm blaming him for all the problems and it's all his fault. I do love him and want to make things work. He is a nice person otherwise and he doesn't yell with others. He does have a part-time job and tries to do the chores (although complains that he does more, calls me lazy and thinks that it's my job to clean up the messes he leaves as if it's "our mess"). I don't have a huge problem with him forgetting things, mostly he does manage to keep his appointments, remember birthdays etc. I don't expect perfection there and I do understand if he forgets or looses something and try to help. But I do feel like he doesn't take responsibility for managing his symptoms or even acknowledges that the symptoms are affecting our marriage. Especially the impulsive yelling and arguing.  

Again, sorry for the long message. Do you have any suggestions?









Want to move to Canada ?

Want to move to Canada ? Better yet, the land down under has been calling my name, lol. We sound very similar in the advice you have been hearing from professionals . Leaving isn't the best option. I do want to give everything I have to save my family. Today I asked if he would go to the conference for ADHD and he said " do you want me too?". Things have been absolute hell for so long , I couldn't believe my ears. I don't want to be a fool and fall for his empty words as my mom puts it . I want to know I did everything I could and didn't waste a possible opportunity to evoke positive changes. My mother says past behavior predicts the future. I hope my overwhelming need for everything to stop hurting isn't dictating my heart and choices. Hugs to you that you get the sign that you are searching for and you are able to see it.xo

Canada sounds nice :)

Thanks Sad sickie! Canada... that's a pretty place I haven't been to yet! :) Just hearing that I'm not alone and there are people out there who understand me is already great help! I hope you find some resolution and happiness too. I've been recently reading a book "Overcoming Anger in your relationships" by Robert Nay. It shows some strategies on how to deal with inappropriate expressions of anger and discourage further repeats. It seems to help a bit, at least in the sense that I feel better myself. But it's too early to tell if it will encourage any change in my husband. It's been hell lately. It's like he can't be in the same room with me without finding something to yell about, put down or attack. Literally, there is barely any real conversation going. And he keeps calling me rude among other things. According to him it's me who mistreats him and is being rude.. especially when I tell him calmly and kindly "could you please talk calmly and kindly", "name calling is unacceptable" etc while he is the one yelling. The most recent one was his telling me that I mistreat him by saying "could you please warn me before you move the chair while I'm sitting on it". I just can't see his thinking here! I'm not sure it's even just ADHD anymore, I don't know what it is. And if he really thinks we have such a problem that he is so upset about, I really don't understand why he wouldn't go to therapy with me. I think your mom is right about 'empty words'. It's so easy to mistake them for some small progress and hope for change, especially when we really want it and need it. But unfortunately, usually they do just end up being 'empty words'. I don't even know why they say that if they don't mean it. I'm really scared what he will be like when our baby is born. I hope that there is an option out there, that will help to preserve the marriage and yet make it livable somehow.


Pbartender's picture

Often, we DO mean it...

"I think your mom is right about 'empty words'. It's so easy to mistake them for some small progress and hope for change, especially when we really want it and need it. But unfortunately, usually they do just end up being 'empty words'. I don't even know why they say that if they don't mean it."

Because in usual ADHD "now/not-now" fashion, we DO mean it at the time we say it.  I my case, I mean it even later when ADHD gets in the way ends up turning into a empty promise, despite my best efforts and best intentions.  The fact that I really do mean it but can't keep the promises I make is an absolute killer for self-respect, self-esteem and confidence.  If I can barely trust myself to do things right... how can anyone else trust me to?

"And if he really thinks we have such a problem that he is so upset about, I really don't understand why he wouldn't go to therapy with me."

Probably for similar reason to why my non-ADHD wife won't go to therapy with me...  Through long years of failure, he may be convinced that nothing can be changed, that things will never get better no matter what he does.

Admittedly, for some of us, the rudeness and anger and disrespect can be attributed to us just being jerks.  For most of us though (in my case, I know it is), I think it's anger and frustration and disappointment at ourselves that overflows and gets misdirected outward.  I know this all doesn't really make it easier for you guys, and it shouldn't be an excuse to not try better.

But try to understand that most of us ADHDers aren't doing these sorts of things on purpose...  Our spotty memories, faulty attention, and wibbly-wobbly time sense trick us into it.

And when it happens, we hate it as much as you do.



Thanks Pb for shedding some

Thanks Pb for shedding some light on this. It seems like you are a lot further along on the road of self-knowledge and self-expression than my husband. I really respect you and admire you for this! I think changing some of our behaviors is really hard for anyone, ADHD or non-ADHD, and it takes a lot of work. And I really respect people who keep trying and working on themselves.

It really helps to hear and understand what's really behind some of the problematic behavior from an ADHDer. I wish there were things to make things better for both sides. I know there are many things if both sides are involved and understand each other, but it seems like the most common case is where one side wants and does it while the other does not. I hope your wife finds some hope and still keeps trying.

I wonder if you have any ideas about this problem: Perhaps, one reason my husband thinks none of the stuff works (reading books, going to therapy or anything else) is because when he does go/read he doesn't actually put things to practice. It's one thing to read about something or hear about something,  and it's totally another to actually put it to practice, keep incorporating the things you read into your new behaviors and to keep trying again and again even when it's the same old repetitive thing. Now we all hate  to do the same old repetitive thing, ADHDers and non-ADHDers. At least I know I don't particularly enjoy it. But if you don't do this bit, of course things "don't work". I would be very surprised if they did! Now it seems like my husband doesn't understand this point, and I don't know how to explain it. So it's not that the method "doesn't work", it's just that it needs to be applied and practiced. He often just says "oh I already read this" or "I already know that".. so why should I do it again. And then he proceeds to conclude that that stuff doesn't work and throws away perfectly good suggestions. How do you explain this to someone with ADHD? I suppose if it were my child, I would sit down, break things into small goals and tasks and do it with him/her. Perhaps this is what psychologists do when people come for a session with ADHD problems.  But I can't do this to my adult husband.. he would be very offended if I treat him like a child. I want to encourage him. But if he doesn't even attempt to actually apply it once, I can't praise him or give any sort of positive feedback and he, obviously will never see any good results.


Pbartender's picture

When I was a kid, G.I. Joe always told me...

..."Knowing's half the battle!"

But it's only half.  Or, as the old Russian proverb says, "If your boat sinks, pray to god...  but swim for shore."  You're right.  Just knowing doesn't get anything done.  And this is the sort of thing that takes Time And Effort to really start seeing results and to make them permanent.  Trying again and again UNTIL it's the same old repetitive thing is what will make it stick and work.

I'm glad I can help.  If I can't help my own non-ADHD wife understand what's going on, then the least I can do is help some of you guys understand instead.  I sincerely hope it makes for all the non-ADHDers here and maybe their spouses, too.