Is anyone dealing with the hypocrisy and defensiveness like this??

My relationship I have invested over 2 years into is about to fail.  I have been living my ADHD boyfriend for the past 1.5 years and it was always a bit tumultuous, however, he is wonderful in many ways with a great sense of humor.  He showed me he really wanted to make it work with me in the beginning and was very loving and touchy (in a good way) I have been reading, I am victim of the hyper-focus courtship, lol....great.  I now feel that he doesn't care to give me the things I need to feel secure and loved in the relationship.  He has admitted to me he was on meds in his 16 year marriage and he ended it b/c they grew apart....I feel like the only way to deal with ADD/ADHD is to literally go numb and grow apart from them...but I'm beginning to feel like a shell.  All I want to do is love him and have him love me back.  He doesn't believe in relationships where anyone is "forced" to do anything they don't "feel"....which unfortunately includes him doing anything for me I tell him I need unless it is something he actually "wants" to do.  What do I do with this....any suggestions?

Some examples of what I hear from him:

"You started I snapped at you, so what, get over are too sensitive."  When he snaps at me or cuts me off and I admittedly go balistic (or as he calls it, "the venom that you spew"...honestly, I am no angel, but I don't know what else to do other than erupt at this point)...he claims I take it to a whole new level and I have a "mean streak" in me b/c anyone who claims to love someone wouldn't freak out on him like that...."the punishment never matches the crime" he says  He thinks I should let him snap/bark at me and it'd be over in 2 seconds.....right....for him, not me!!  he doesn't realize the effect and inner turmoil it has on me....and seems to not care when I tell him. 

I've told him to just apologize when he hurts my feelings or is harsh when he shuts me down (as he is incredibly impatient with me and he knows it...he says "I'm impatient with everyone").  I've gone so far as to say it's ok if he barks at me, just say your sorry after and I'll move on....but he refuses - he says "I'm not going to go through my life apologizing and besides, it's just words".  So I tell him he has 2 choices - he can apologize or receive my "wrath"...which is me going balistic.  He doesn't like either choice....he says, "just bark back."  It's like there is a disconnect..i don't want to "bark back".  He doesn't seem to care at all that what he does effects/hurts me.  And when I cry, he says "oh my god, are you going to cry now?"....I don't know how much more of the insensitivity I can take. 

He says to me "just be nice"....and I say, "I'll be nice to you if you are nice to me".....his response is "why does it always have to start with me?  Do you ever work on yourself?"  I'm extremely frustrated.

When I have an opinion that differs from him and I ask him for facts about why he feels the way he does, he thinks I am arguing with him and debating....and it's as if I can never learn anything from him b/c he can't converse in a normal way.  He gets angry.  I am walking on eggshells in my own home and I feel like I have to "turn off" just to walk in my door.  He also badgers me when I am "turned off/numb" asking me what is wrong until I gently tell him....and then he starts in with me that "here I go again". 

He doesn't want to hear about my day or stories about people in my world...he says "don't you ever consider your audience?  Not everyone wants to hear what you have to say."   Then he says, "you grew up thinking everything you had to say was important because you are pretty and people just pretend to listen to be around you"'s incredibly hurtful.

He is also incredibly hypocritical and doesn't see it....even when I provide him examples that are so's like he is completely blind and says "its not the same thing".  OMG....there is no logic I can provide that seems to sink in.  He thinks I'm "too logical" and not everything is about logic.....ok, but the examples are easy because he provides me all the ammo I need...and logic or not, they are concrete. 

He says it is all me.  I've asked him to record our conversations...the answer is no.  I've asked him to go to therapy...the answer is no.  I've asked him to ask any 20 people of his choosing about the situation.....ANYthing to get an unbiased outsiders opinion about what is going on....the answer is still "no, not doing it!"  I feel like I am always trying to not upset him and he doesn't provide me the same courtesies at all.  If I'm wrong, I want to know, but if he is wrong, he refuses to hear it from anyone.  I don't know what to do.   I am SOOOO willing to do anything he needs (except deal with him being disrespectful and hurtful)....and he doesn't believe a relationship should be about giving what the other needs...just what you want to give.  This seems incredibly selfish, no?  What do I do with this....any suggestions?

I hear you...

Wow- I am going through so many of the things you are!  I will be very interested to read others' replies, because quite frankly, I'm as much at a loss as you are.  When things are good with my husband, they are so wonderful!  And when things are bad, he claims that I'm arrogant and selfish, and that I act like a child.  

The one thing I can say is that marriage doesn't improve anything!   Good luck to you!  :-)

just be careful

I have experienced a very similar phenomenon in my marriage for a decade. I am telling you, I beat myself into a brick wall trying to "show" my spouse how off and hurtful and inappropriate and abusive some of his speech and behavior has been. And absolutely worked myself up into a froth at times, becoming angry, miserable, walking on eggshells, the works. I became seriously depressed. My advice is to either a) try to work with a mediator like a counselor, if you can or b) please, please do not continue your relationship or marry him until these issues are addressed. 

Seriously, hindsight is 20/20 vision, but after a decade, my spouse is even worse than ever with the defensiveness, the lack of empathy, the denial, and the complete inability to "see" what he is doing from my point of view. His take, and I quote, is "There is nothing wrong with me. You are a horrible person. Everyone likes me, and people who do not like me just don't "get" me. If I ever do anything that is angry or unkind, it is only in reaction to you. If it weren't for you, I would never do those things." When I pointed out that it was not ok to throw a phone at me, his response was, "You are emotionally throwing things at me. It is the same thing." No, it's not. We have had painful "debates" like this that have gone on for hours, or days. 

No more, though--I woke up and am filing for a separation next week. The last two years have been an absolute misery and I regret a great deal of the time I spent thinking that if he just cared about me enough, he would wake up and take responsibility for at least some of his actions. 

Best of luck to you. If he will not go, perhaps you can go to therapy yourself. It may help you sort much of this out. I know you have invested 2 years, but you do NOT have to live this way or have a relationship that makes you this miserable. 

Warning duly noted....seeking advice from someone WITH ADHD

I am venting here....long vent....I want to understand where the disconnect is...

And I truly appreciate the reply above to my "is anyone else dealing with the hypocrisy and defensiveness like this?".  I have been all over this the extent I have been neglecting my own work during the day, which makes me think "hey, maybe I'm ADHD too!!"  Though that would have to be impossible for the following reasons (if someone with ADHD reads this, perhaps it might trigger something in you that says "hey, that's a good way for me to be in general") - If not, can you please help me understand how this is not a good way for a partner to be if choosing to combine your life with someone:

1.) I am willing to actually sit down, not raise my voice and talk calmly

2.) I always try to see the other side and apologize right away if someone tells me I've hurt them...(if they erupt on me, it's a different story), but if I cause someone I care about pain and they say I've hurt them, I will always think about it and respond nicely/gently. 

3.) I always try to get to a place where we can agree to lay some ground rules that we both agree on - baby steps - baby ground rules...SOMETHING I can go back to.

4.) I am always trying to monitor the effect my behavior has on someone else....I look hard at myself and try to change my behavior if others, whom I respect, respond to me in a way that surprises me or isn't positive. Other's opinions, if they have nothing to gain by giving it to me, makes me take a second look at myself, for sure. 

5.) I have ZERO problem with being recorded or having someone (other than him) telling me they think I am being ridiculous....I want to know if I am wrong or at fault....why doesn't an ADHD-er want to know this to help the relationship??

6.) I use logic to explain myself and give facts and examples that can be proven.  Why wouldn't this make sense?  If you are going to take a stand, give some facts and reasons why you feel the way you do....and why does it make you so mad if someone challenges you on something you can't back up?  Wouldn't you want to get your facts straight first?

7.)  One of my biggest things is that I absolutely NEVER point the finger if I know the person I'm pointing the finger at can say "well, you do it too".  I deal with someone who points the finger at me and when I say "you do it!", he says "so?  we are talking about you doing it now and it causing a problem" does this make sense??????????


So, this next part is where maybe I'm as bad as the ADHD-er.  I'm reading the post above about the ADHD guy throwing a phone at her.  I am extremely embarrassed and ashamed to admit, but yesterday I got so frustrated with my boyfriend saying to ME that he is so frustrated with how I treat him (my eruptions about his behavior towards me) and he didn't think he could live with it, that I went crazy and hit him....several times in the arms...yes, like a crazy woman.  I am completely appauled with my behavior.  And he's a stong guy, so not that he can't take me hitting his arms, but still....I think, WTF am I doing???   I am feeling like a TOTAL CRAZY PERSON....and ACTING like it too - amazing where a high level of frustration will take you....just shoot me now.... 

He is actually making me look like the culprit b/c of my responses...and I think he believes it.  And then I get "you are such a child."  Uugh....yes, I am acting like a child because I am dealing with one who can't sit down and talk like an adult without pointing the finger at me. 

Someone on this forum telling me my overreacting is making things worse I'm sure would be in order here.  And, yes, I'm sure it is, I agree.  I am just so hurt.  He told me that our relationship is not his job to save.  He told me he is not going to work on saving the relationship, only working on being happy...okay...what the f? 

He told me yesterday if I cried and told him I was hurt instead of getting mad and yelling, he would respond in a more caring concerned way....right....didn't happen today.  This morning he wanted to give me advice about work (which i normally wouldn't refuse), but he ALWAYS refuses my advice, so i said "I am not looking for advice or even to talk."  He said "I just want to be heard"...and I said "I don't want to talk about it, don't push" (just to let him know how frustrating it is to have him not care about my opinion) and OMG, he got pissy....aparently carried it through the entire day and brought it up when I told him I didn't want to have sex/quickie because I wanted to know we were working towards emotionally fixing our issues/on the road to getting better.  He said to me he didn't want to have emotional sex because he wasn't feeling it because of the fact I "didn't listen to him this morning and I was a hypocrite for not doing so"....

So, again, I am seriously venting right now but definitely would welcome any other advice anyone has....and if you are ADHD, please help me understand where the breakdown is and what may have worked for you to "see" what is happening.  Forget I just spent all this time on this site researching what he told me he was actually diagnosed with years ago, he wants me to spend more time on the internet now to find out what is wrong with me....

BB77 -- I'm also a "crazy woman"

BB77 -- I'm also a "crazy woman" like you described becoming. I had a very similar situation this weekend with my ADHD husband, where I felt that I must be completely losing my marbles. I wailed and howled and sobbed. I think I might have hit him if he had challenged me one more time.

I think that we turn into these bizarre insane individuals when we've been pushed to the limit of what we can accept. Like you, I really, really try to deal with our marital challenges in a mature, sensitive, and diplomatic way. I know I don't do a perfect job of it, but I try so hard to model the type of behavior I'd like to receive from my husband. So it freaks me out when one encounter after another, he turns our discussions into finger-pointing, ridiculous blame games, pulling in everything from "you act just like your mother" to "you're the one who needs help". Of course, I need help! I'm morphing into a monster -- the calm, optimistic, sane me has died off. I'm a freaking monster. I don't want my daughter to see me like this. I don't want to see myself this way.

How do we rebuild? I'm ashamed of myself for acting in a way I despise. I'm ashamed of my lack of strength to keep it together. I hate it, but I think I need to apologize to him. At least for flipping out like I did and escalating our disagreement. This is hard.


Crazies Welcome - is it just women? Do men go balistic too?

I'm wondering is it just non-ADHD women that go crazy...because, as women, we are typically more sensitive and usually need to feel like our man is caring to protect us (even if it is protecting us from him, lol)....but we seem to go nuts if we do not receive the nurturing and love we need or, what my ADHD boyfriend likes to say, "EXPECT" from a relationship.  Are we expecting too much?  And do non-ADHD men go crazy too when they aren't "loved" by their ADHD female partner?  Clearly from our posts above, we are all women....but is the "I used to be fun and positive and now I'm crazy and depressed" just what women go through?  I feel like a shrew.  What do you call a guy who goes crazy? :)  

RE: your post above: "I try so hard to model the type of behavior I'd like to receive." 

I, too, have tried to show by example.  And when I pull back he questions why I'm being "like that" or "Why can't you give is not about giving to receive, don't you know that?"  OMG. OMG OMG OMG!!  And when I say I'm not going to allow you to go through your life with a smile on your face all the while receiving love and consideration from me, when I used to be there and am now depressed because of how you treat me.  When I pull the supply and stop giving him the constant little tokens of "love" I wish he gave me, I am THEN accused of only "giving" in order to "receive"....ummmm....hellooooo....didn't start out that way....sometimes the playing field needs to be leveled...

And then I get from my ADHD partner "fine, then don't give unless you wannnnnt to, I don't neeeeed it...'cause I don't caaaaaare...."  To which I reply, "how the heck is this a good relationship??"  Why can't we both give love and consideration to the other and what a nice relationship that would be, yes???  And of course, we go around in circles because he doesn't believe a relationship should be about giving what the other needs...just what you want to give.

When I tell him a caring relationship is giving and receiving and trying to make your partner feel loved and happy, he says "Really?  Who says?  Who wrote the book defining a relationship? Who says a relationship needs to be good or bad or anything?  Who says what/what not a relationship should be?"

I want to show him that if you put in the effort to show someone you care, you will get it back and it feels good (because he always tells me he has never remembered what feeling good feels like)....he calls it "fake".

So my next question....why be in a relationship at all then?  For company at dinner or a movie every once in a while?  For the sex?  Which isn't happening unless I feel the love, let me tell you....

I have gone so far as to say "If you want me to want to have sex, then think of it this way: 'The summation of all the little hearts (loving things) you show to me during the day equals one BIG HEART you get back (sex) at night (not to mention, he'll get more little hearts back from me throughout the day)....just to get him comfortable with going through the motion of THINKING about his actions and showing me he cares in the little things he does - the little touches, the hugs, the kindness, the gestures....he seemed to understand, but then it goes away and I get the "I'm not doing anything I don't feel".  He is not stupid, but who, I ask you....WHO is in a relationship to NOT GIVE AND RECEIVE??????  Don't be in a relationship then, I I freakin' crazy to want love back if I'm sharing my world and home with someone?? 

He says - "let's work on being friends then first"....and I'm like, I wouldn't keep a friend like you, seriously.  None of my friends speak to me like he does.  And they show me consideration back or I am not going to continue the one sided friendship....he still doesn't understand this.  Major disconnect here. 

Again - I am looking for ADHD-ers to PLEASE shed some light on this mentality....what is it you do not get?  Why do you want to be in a relationship if you don't want to be the provider of what your partner needs?  If you don't want to show kindness to your partner when you upset them?  When they are showing you by example how to treat them (you are only benefiting from being with a loving person...why wouldn't you want to give this back to someone you "claim" to care about?)  This doesn't make sense to a normal/logical mind....


I know it is almost painfully obvious that if I stay with someone who feels this way (especially after reading my 3 posts), I am off my's just that somewhere inside him I just can't believe he doesn't understand this.  He is super sweet to me at times and seems to get it....and those glimmers of "ah-ha" moments are the kicker....   :(

I have two comments.  One,

I have two comments.  One, right on!  Two, my therapist, a very wise woman, said to me once, "For women, emotional connection is foreplay."  

I think when women who are

I think when women who are originally independent and strong... start to second guess themselves in a relationship where they are not treated as an equal emotional/soul/sexual partner, it is not too long before the woman's frustration becomes repressed anger and it explodes. When a woman is denied any affirmation of the strength of their womanhood or equality, I feel we all feel like we're no longer grounded to our true nature and that's when we lose our centers. That is one of the biggest problems with my ADHD spouse, he will throw all sorts of devil's advocate and monkey wrenches into the most simple conversations, almost as if he thrives on chaotic action, with absolutely no empathy or understanding of the female spirit.

"I know it is almost

"I know it is almost painfully obvious that if I stay with someone who feels this way (especially after reading my 3 posts), I am off my rocker.."


You and me both, sister!!

I had a 'crazy moment' last night...

My ADD partner and I had an amazing talk yesterday when he came in from work. He read Melissa Orlov's post on 'ADHD men who don't think it's their fault...' and told me that he's realised a few days ago that this isn't my fault and that he doesn't blame me. We talked about how we could make things work and things finally felt a bit positive. I told him that the one thing I can't take anymore are the arguments just before we go to sleep as they leave me wide awake for hours while he sleeps peacefully next to me - I end up feeling wrecked for days afterwards.

We had a fairly nice evening together (he spent a lot of time on the PC playing games because our talk had 'taken it out of him') and then went to bed. Just before going to bed, I had forgotten to turn the living room light off so he said 'I'll turn the light off then shall I?'. I told him 'yes please' and then said that there was no need to be sarcastic about it... He apologised and I thought things were going to settle down again but then he turned his back to me without a word (something he NEVER does normally). I felt gutted. It seemed he was clearly still annoyed about the stupid light thing. I told him how I felt; that him turning his back on me showed me he was still annoyed but he ignored this. I asked him to please not let us go to sleep on an argument again. He said we weren't arguing but still refused to turn over. I KNOW that I should have left it, or gone to him for a cuddle, but I'm so fed up of being the one to make ammends. 

Anyway, a long story short, he eventually told me that 'I think it's better if you sleep in the spare room from now on'. I lost it. Not only has he decided to turn his back on me in bed, he now wants us (after just 2 years of being together) to start sleeping in separate rooms. So I stormed to the spare room, then stormed back in. Asked how he could hurt me like that. And that's when all the nasty comments began. They don't hurt as much as they used to, but they still bloody hurt. 'I don't care about you, I don't care about anyone but myself'. 'I can't stand living with you, you make my life miserable'. 'I should never have moved in with you, you're crazy'. 

I was so determined to make it be the last time we have a night like that; tried to explain that even though he was saying things in the heat of the moment, they were still really hurtful and unnecessary. I turned the lights on so that he would talk to me - he stormed into the living room to watch TV. I turned the TV off... I know it's all completely insane and I despise myself for acting that way.

So, I got my way - it's the last time we'll have a night like that - he's told me to move out. I feel devastated today (not to mention exhausted from another night tossing and turning). But, I thought about it last night and realised that it's ridiculous living with someone who doesn't want me there. I'm fighting hard enough to get our relationship to survive (despite having huge doubts myself) but if he doesn't even want me, then what on earth am I doing? 

Quite possibly he didn't mean it and it was just said in an attempt to get me to leave him alone, but he'll never apologise for saying it. 

Bit of a rant/vent here...

dude....omg....hear sorry....but try this

Last night, we had a great night....after a night of fighting/breaking up/getting back together the day before.....

I sent him a text yesterday that said "can we get back?"....

He said "u tell me?"

So I typed the following:

"I am always going to try to give you specifically what you need.....not necessarily what I is the effort I will put in bc you need it, regardless of whether I agree with it. 

But honestly, (inserted his name here), I need something too. 

Getting back to happy is a 2way street...and we both need to show some effort here.

If you don't agree, then I'm not sure there is any hope.

Let me know."


His reply:  "lets try again"

My reply: "Please read when you have 2 minutes so we're both on the same page.

I need only 2 things:

When you're irritated, please speak nicely -no sarcasm/harsh

Apologizing when you don't do the above.  I know you're not perfect but it will help me move on and get over it (which is what you want anyway).

For you:

I promise to not be pushy and will back off when you tell me I am... I will leave your decisions up to you and let you make your own mistakes.

I will try to ask questions the way you like and try not to voice my opinion in a challenging way.

Sicnce we've established 'interrupting' is fine (don't think either of us are going to conquer that one)...but if the person talking asks to please let them finish, we should stop interrupting and let them...its the right thing.

Anything else that you want to add, I will try to do just let me know.


Please be nice about all of the above.  I'm not going to be perfect either...but I'm really going to try.

If you're nice/calm throughout, it will show me you're really trying too and keep everything moving forward. 

Does this work as a good start?  Let's see if we can do these things and if they make a difference....♥"


Honestly, this text seemed to work with him....and we didn't talk about it when we saw each other after work...we went out for drinks....I tried to be did he.  We went out for dinner....I took him out to a great restaurant to celebrate his new job....and we went home, where I asked him if he could take 5 minutes to pick up his stuff all over the apartment b/c I wouldn't have time to do it all today when I get home...I'm cooking dinner for his friends tonight and have other cleaning I have to do as well as cook.  You would've thought I had asked him for a kidney....he was like, "well, you're brushing your teeth and I have to clean up right now? I hate when you ask me to clean just for the sake of me doing something for you."  OMG, I was ready to hit the roof....not to mention, I was planning on getting naked in lingerie right after brushing my teeth....felt like he was being such a douche.  But I told him to "cut it out, I had something fun planned".  He cleaned, reluctantly, and I dressed.....he was pissed off when he came into the bedroom questioning why I had ruined a great night by asking him to clean.  I was laying on the bed in lingerie and I sat up and said, "are you kidding me? I just paid $175 for dinner, tried all night to be nice and backed off, I am laying here in lingerie, i am food shopping after work tomorrow and coming home to clean the apartment before I start cooking dinner for 5 people _ YOUR friends....and I ask you to take 5 minutes while I'm brushing my teeth to pick up your sh*t that hass all over the place for the past 3 weeks so its one less thing I have to think about tomorrow and you are seriously giving me a hard time?  If you don't think you are being selfish, think again....and after we had a great night you can't take 5 minutes??"

he looked at me, and I said "c'mon....we were doing sooooo well...please, you can't think your are right on this...please let's continue the night"....and he said 'ok, i'm sorry".....and we had a grrrrrreat night....but honestly, I had to be the one to back off and then I still came to him (half naked, mind you) was THE ONLY WAY.....and it sucked that it almost was ruined.  I had so much ammo that I threw in his face while I was laying half naked in his field of vision, he was torn, I think...LOL....he had no choice but to apologize.

I'm venting but also letting you know that it worked, SOMETHING least last night.....I really tried and seemed he did too b/c he wanted it to be a good night as well.  All this could change today when I get home, haha, but worked and I'm going to stick with it for now.  If you can glean even on little golden nugget to try on your guy from this, it was worth posting.

Hope all goes well....I'm on a mega rollercoaster too....

V. Impressed!

Oh my goodness, your self-control on that one is commendable! 

Wouldn't it be amazing though to be able to say 'could you just pick those bits up for me?' and have it done?

OR, to have them pick up after themselves like an adult without being asked????!!!! Think I'd die of shock!

I really am so impressed with how you handled that and would love to hear whether it's been worth it - whether the good times continue... I just feel like I've reached the end of the line! Maybe I'll feel better when I've had a couple of days to get over it, but to be honest, I'm more hurt this afternoon by the things he said last night than I was when he said them. 

I really hope I get to hear good news from you on this one :) 

cool...and thank you (as I take a bow)....LMAO

I will def keep you posted on is NOT easy....

The ONE thing i have going for me is that I know he does love me and is sad afterward when we fight....if he wasn't sad, I would leave.


Bin Sama O'laden's picture

Incredible restraint and excellent poise

There's a lot I would like to comment on your post because I can relate in many ways.  However, I'm mostly curious to know what is going through the ADHD person's mind when they react like her husband did to her asking him to clean up his stuff.  My gf doesn't seem to know the reason why she responds that way.  Much of the time she will deny having said it at all (even though she said it a few mins ago), but when she will at least acknowledge that she said I can't recall ever getting a cogent explanation for why she reacted the way she did.  It seems as though she was disconnected from her true self when she reacted.  Perhaps being asked to do something triggers a defense response that clouds her thinking and she reacts almost instinctively and without much so that she will blank out having even reacted defensively at all.  Kind of like little mini episodes of PTSD, but over simply being asked to help clean up (their stuff).  Perhaps, bad memories of constant scolding by a parent could be the explanation?  I guess it all depends on the person and their own experiences.


Just yesterday I was pricing out surveillance cameras and camcorders so I could record his behavior and play it back to him. I don't know. I haven't found a way through the hostility. I haven't found a way to be heard or respected. I feel like I have tried everything in the world. He has gone to monthly counseling. He is on meds. I bought him gadgets to help with organization (now collecting dust.) I have tried sweetness, patience, anger, writing... all to no avail. Everything still gets thrown back in my face. If I weren't married with one child and another on the way Id already be gone. There is only so much of yourself you can give before they suck it all away. I don't mean to be all negative but honestly, if you don't have to stay... painful as leaving is, its infinitely better to have peace of mind. Im sure that you are a beautiful and strong person. Don't let the hostility take away all your joy because that's what it will eventually do. That's about the only new thing I have been able to find when trying to research new techniques to try. Hostility from husbands (or boyfriends) results in depression in wives.

I totally get the hyperfocused courtship thing. Its nice to feel like someone actually cares the way you always imagined someone ought too. Its just unfortunate it doesn't last. Worse that it turns into explosive hostility and defensiveness. If you don't have to put up with the disrespect, don't. 

I know people come on here hoping for help, for a solution. Its not always one that continues the relationship though. I feel like having this forum and website made me feel like of course I could handle my husbands problems because there would be help. But its not like that. Its just a website filled with other people that can relate so easily its painful. 

Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to move forward and grow. Otherwise you will end up using all your beautiful energy to carry a forever injured relationship. 

Recording what they say

Just a warning .... I tried to record one of our "conversations/arguments" so he would hear how much he was yelling and, I kid you not, he baited me into screaming at HIM as he sat back with a little smirk on his face. He saved the recording and I think he took it to his therapist. I would never have believed it. Made it sound like I was a banshee, even though I was desperately trying to reflect back to him the truth of what was going on. I still feel the desperation as I tell you about this -- that no one will ever believe that he was usually so insane around me. Made me see, however, that he knew EXACTLY what he was doing, and was not loosing control when he would yell and scream at me.

There have been times when

There have been times when we're out and he just keeps goading me and micro-managing me, except nobody seems to notice that at all. I wish someone could videotape it. How is it that everyone on the internet videotapes all the time and I can't even remember?? Oh wait, none of them have to deal with ADHD and the ensuing confusion that clouds the mind. Sometimes, in public, I will just literally cry "Stop treating me like a child!". So humiliating to respond like that in public. But I not going to let that happen again in the future. The screaming back is really ADHD influence at its worst. At it's worst, it feels like you're a POW -- after being deprived of any respect or freedom, you might as well act like the caged animal they've made you into....

It's got to be because his ADHD-induced thoughts are racing that day and he's got to outlet. I imagine it's like having a migraine and trying to get through the day without being grumpy. He told me recently after I asked him what it feels like with the racing thoughts. He said it was like "metal plates grinding down on his brain" and he can't stop his thoughts racing all over. Listen, I'm trying to understand the best I can - but I won't be the sole outlet he takes it out on... he's got to find better ways of handling the anxiety and/or belligerence.

Tried to record him once going off at us in the car because I'd had enough, he completely shut down and wouldn't speak another word. So, I know, the anger/hostility/defensiveness CAN be kept at bay -- otherwise, wouldn't the ADHD just cause him to go off regardless of any recording or videotaping of his outbursts? Of course, when he outbursts, it's all too unpredictable so no preparedness. Sometimes I want to just play it back to myself and see if he's being logical, or if there is something in my responses to him that is making it worse, or if I'm actually being goaded into irrational back talk??

Verbal lashings

There is a great book called, "The Vebally Abusive Relationship" by Patricia Evans that gives some ways to take back control when someone verbally attacks. All of it may not apply for your situation, but one of the things she said to do was just look at them and sternly say, "Cut it out." Seems so easy, but works pretty well sometimes. It's a great book that gives a lot of support to the spouse being tongue-lashed.

thanks lynnie, I'll look into

thanks lynnie, I'll look into the book. I do agree 'cut it out' seems to put an end to things with all people. Reasoning or any injections/interjections? seems to make it worse and become huge verbal sparring between us. I gather "verbally abusive" in the book isn't just swearing and damaging remarks, but also just the barrage of talk and demands that comes out AT the spouse.

[quote]He says to me "just be

[quote]He says to me "just be nice"....and I say, "I'll be nice to you if you are nice to me".....his response is "why does it always have to start with me?  Do you ever work on yourself?"  I'm extremely frustrated. [/end quote]

I think it takes a lot of time and effort and sometimes having to ignore the anger that it tends to set off when they make it a "tit for tat" relationship.  If I ask him to do something for me, he says to me "Only if you're nice to me."  What the heck. He used to say it a lot and it made me feel inadequate that he NEVER felt I was being kind on my own volition to him. It always felt like he was this overgrown neglected child. I always had to be super nice, super grateful, not just sincere. He's got even the kids conditioned to thank him endlessly for just going out with them.

He will only be happy if you love him more... it's like living out that child's story book "I love you. No, I love you more. To the Moon and Back. Listen, dagnabbit, tell me you love me more. Say it! Say it!"  (OK, that last bit I added, heh).

I think some ADHD views of empathic reciprocity are very skewed. Like being friends with those who serve a purpose like being a handyman or mechanic. Friends that are "useful," otherwise, it is not worth it.



You may not realize that he could be arguing for a different reason than you are.

You are probably trying to solve something. He is trying to guide the conversation away from where he thinks the problem obviously lies -- with himself. And you forget that he is much more skilled in arguing and deflecting than you are.  ADHDers also argue sometimes for the stimulation they get, for control, or as a diversion/game. You can never "win" when your reasons are so different.

Your example seems to indicate he was arguing as a game -- trying to get you to be the angry one because he has been accused of being angry. Note -- this is reassigning the blame, not trying to solve the problem. Very frustrating to a person trying to solve something.

true, true. He's speaking AT

true, true. He's speaking AT me so and I'm speaking back TO him, then it devolves into this arguing. Irony is that we both are talking about the same end result. He seems to remain stuck at a groove in the 78rpm record, so no matter how much I re-phrase that I'm in agreement or cannot give a final answer, he's stuck in the same spot on the record.

The just be nice comment


I am new here, this is my first post, but so much of what everyone has said is describing my life now and for the past 15-20 years.

I can't count how many times I have said,  Can you please stop being so mean/Can you please be nice to me?

And he said, I will be nice when you are nice to me--YOU are the one being mean to me, and I just can't take it anymore. Go away. Leave me alone.

I, feeling so hurt and misunderstood, and just completely unable to reconcile the monster with the person I married, try to reason. And I end up being treated in a way I despise.

Then the next day, he acts like there was no problem. I try to bring it up. Invariable it goes two ways: a fight, or me in tears. And I am pretty tough.

And other things like this.

I am amazed and so very emotionally destroyed so often when I have tried to make things work and tried to reason with him. He is irrational!

I am blamed for his feelings. He shouts and yells and verbally abuses and then tells me he is doing it because I make him feel bad. I ask him to stop yelling, to lower his voice.

 He then counters with a comment about how I am not listening to him, am interrupting him, and he cannot express his feelings. Every time he says he is expressing his feelings he is yelling at me. Loud voice, angry tone.

I could go on but I suspect most of you are already familiar with the details and the routine. I have been working on this for a few years now: therapy, depression treatment, more therapy, couples therapy, new couples therapist, small steps forward, long heartbreaking backsliding...hoping it will get better and then being demolished by the out of control arguments. I have read the books:Verbal Abuse (yup we both do it), Driven to Distraction, and am nearly finished with the ADHD marriage book. It has been like looking in a mirror.

I am trying to just stop responding to the baiting, the fighting, the reminders of how awful I have been for years and years. The accusations from him of the things I had no idea I was doing (giving him awful looks, being mean, judging him, criticizing him, making him feel bad, etc. etc.)

Has anyone (non-ADHD)  just stopped the unhappy conversation, the nagging, the reminders, the hey, what about x escalation to rage and beyond? Has it worked?

I am looking for a way out of the labyrinth.




@sweet_monster: Hi, I have read your post. I have gone through very similar situation for years in my relationship as well. I could pick up from your post and tell you that some of those words you have said that was used by your partner were the 'exact' same words my BF used to speak when we fought in the past! What I am saying is that,  these patterns are amazingly similar all over the globe as "Melissa' herself says! My suggestion to you is that - pls don't waste your time and emotional energy to try to understand/process/analyze what he speaks. Cos, both your brains are ENTIRELY different and messages processed and interpreted  in your brains are completely in different ways. He will not get the clarity to understand and empathize with u until he gets on appropriate meds and also by using (both of you) ADHD friendly tools of communication. It takes a while to work with a ADHD specialist psychiatrist to get the meds in order. You can spend your life time trying to get peace/love without appropriate treatment for ADHD, the result will be the same, unfortunately!

So, you get the idea what you should be doing to protect yourself, if your partner is not willing to seek appropriate help, right? You can never make him do anything. However you can do what ever is right for you to get emotionally healthy. You know what I am saying! I strongly recommend reading Melissa's book. You might already have it, I suppose. Good luck. Take the right decision for your mental health by changing what you can do. Pls try to understand that you are not a 'victim' and you do have choices.


This is very typical

You and your partner are stuck in mutual denial and "the blame game."  If you haven't read my book, it goes into some detail about these responses (which are very common.)  Your comments are so spot on that I'm going to put some of them in my next book (completely anonymously, of course, so others can learn from them.

You need to pull yourself out of this cycle by not engaging with him in negative terms.  Again, read The ADHD Effect on Marriage for details but in a brief overview it means setting specific boundaries (you've already done half of this work by insisting he be respectful) and then live by those standards you request of him yourself.  If you want him to be respectful of you, then you should hold yourself to that same standard, for example, and be respectful of him.  Don't wait for him to change first.  You only control yourself, and when you change your dynamics you also change your interactions (by definition.)  My husband and I used to be in these same patterns of mutual don't get out of them until BOTH of you holds yourself to a higher standard.  (A word of warning - just being nice for a while isn't enough.  You have to have a mutual understanding of what you are doing and where you both want to go - this takes two.  You should, however, make sure to match your own behaviors to your own standards.)

Which brings me to his issues.  Being mean to you and "short with everyone" is simply NOT okay if you wish to have good relationships with "everyone!"  Period.  This is ADHD impulsivity at work (most likely - I don't know this for sure since I don't know him) and for many people can actually be treated.  He will find, if he treats this aspect of his ADHD, that life suddenly gets MUCH easier for him.  People will respond more positively, want to help him (vs. not be with him) and be more open to his ideas.  When he beats everyone up all the time it has the impact of driving people away from him.  He may never have experienced anything different in his life, but that doesn't mean being impatient with everyone works in his favor, nor that others should put up with it.

Your guy has a big, big case of denial.  If he doesn't get out of it, it will end your relationship.  Denial causes relationship break ups, not ADHD.  (Just posted on this topic at Psychology Today if you're interested.)  You, too, are suffering from not fully acknowledging the role that your responses and anger are playing.  Don't put up with his baloney and nonsensical "it's okay if I abuse people around me" justifications...but make sure not to use those same kinds of justifications yourself.

I can relate a lot to this.

I can relate a lot to this. My woman and I have been a couple for 19 years now and only recently has she been diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder type II. She has been having all kinds of trouble for all of her life. Anxiety, problems at school, workplace problems, trouble sleeping etc etc. Over the years I have tried my best to understand what's "wrong" with her. She has not. She sticks her head in the sand. Year in, year out. Now after I have learnt about how more about the ADHD mind this starts to make sense.
The thing is that bipolarity makes my wife do stupid things. She gets confrontative, stubborn and gets herself into trouble. All sorts of stupid stuff. She gets at the throat of people (not literally, but verbally). First others, then mine and our daughter's (she's three). Before our daughter was born I used to bark back, defending myself against the accusations (however bizarre), not knowing that I'm arguing with a manic person (which is basically pointless), but these days I just take our daughter and try to leave the house or make the situation stop in some other way.

After my wife's manic phase is over (usually the cycles are short, just a few days) - and this is where the ADHD comes in - the real hell begins for me. The accusations that have just been thrown at me go round and round in my head. Many of the things my wife said are stuff like "what she REALLY thinks about me" or "what she's been thinking *all the time* but hasn't go around to say". Topics that often come up are injustices (household work, money etc) that I apparently have subjected her to. I KNOW that she doesn't think so a few days later, because she has told me so on occasions. But most of the time she will NOT say she's sorry.

This is very, very important. Not saying sorry. 

When I read about the "blame-game" and "defend, deflect, deny" I almost cried (and I'm like Alice Cooper - I never Cry!).
My wife grew up with a ADHD brother  and an ADHD father. ADHD was like a family trait. I realized at an early stage of our relationship that her family had some sort of weird relationship to blame. It was always a huge issue who "fault" everything was. And everyone was always trying to deflect blame. It was like a f**ing sport! I always told my wife that was not going to work outside your family, because noone is going to care whose "fault" this or that is.

However, my wife and I have a problem. A problem that we have always had and is snowballing. Now on its 20th year, and not there's a kid involved. My wife gets at me for no reason because something happens in her brain. Afterwards I want her to say she's sorry and to say she did not mean the things she said.
That's when she makes me feel even worse. Her wish is to move without a word, never to mention the incident again. She does no care how this makes me feel or how this affects the relationship long term. Normally after a fight there's a certain kind of "making up" process which i feel is lacking, especially on her part. For a long time I thought there was something wrong with me (I associated social incompetence as a male trait i suppose!), but now I think I see a pattern.

This is how my wife typically handles my attempts to talk about a "fight" (after a "fight"):

- I was *a little bit* in the right
- I can't help how I am, I'm ill
- The therapist made me do it
- I think you're more sensitive than other men
- How do you think you make me feel now?
- That was three days ago, you're still sulking?
- That was not how I said it
- I didn't say that
- I don't remember saying things

Also, she is very sensitive to criticism. This hasn't become an issue until recently. Having a kid really put her to the test and when she "failed" in certain areas I had no way of communicating it to her. Everything I try to say activates the "defend, deflect, deny" process in new, mindblowing ways. Now that I  think I understand what is going on I see things in a new light, but is drains all my power to "turn the tables back" at someone who is constantly turning the tables at me in everyday conversations. I think there are people out there who know what I mean.

My wife needs to educate herself about this behavior of hers. The other day she ran off from her daughter in frustration and locked herself in the bedroom. The girl was scared and cried and I had to comfort her. When my wife finally came out she said to my daughter (who came running after her with arm outstretched) "now look what you made mommy do!". Half an hour later I heard my wife telling the girl she wouldn't talk to her until she had apologized (she had apparently hit mummy!). She's putting blame on the girl for everything that goes wrong between them, demanding apologies from the girl, totally ruling out the possibility of giving one herself (even when giving one would be in place). Trust me, LOTS of things go wrong when you're with a three you're old and as an adult you get to take the responsibility!
We've been in counseling for my wife's parental behavior but it's not working out. It gets better for a couple of week then it's back again. My wife doesn't want to talk about ADHD, she just wants to get a list of firm, handy instructions or something like that. And she thinks that the therapist sides up with me (of course). And that she comes across as the "bad parent" (how to do we avoid this?). 


I don't know what it is about

I don't know what it is about the defend/deflect/deny progression that turns me from a rational mild person to feeling like I'm losing my mind to some of his semantically and cleverly placed words. I may be the emotional one, but the emotion (hysteria) comes after a lengthy "D/D/D" attack on my own perceptions.

Lately, my ADD spouse has used the following excuse repeatedly: "I'm like the Alcoholic, I'm not going to do what anyone says, until I want to help myself" (pointing the finger at me)

But the difference between alcoholism addiction and ADD/ADHD is that they are not the same. One is an addiction and the other a neurological disorder. How am I supposed to reconcile every time he goes into the defend/deflect/deny process that "it's just like the alcoholic, they can't help it, nobody can, until they help themselves." Which means never welcoming any help and it's becoming a significant CRUTCH for him.



This is the usual reaction dh has to conversations.  He takes all conversation as accusation and then defends/deflects/denies/blames/attacks.  He is an extrovert/extrovert personality.  Meaning there is no introverting thoughts other than how to protect himself.

He also can only take one sentence at a time.   Which means there is no cross talk or conversation.  There is only him saying something and then tuning out.  There is only me saying something and him starting a crazy fight.  

It is a form of control where I don't get to respond and he tunes out after he says one idea to me. That is all he can handle.

Thanks for the "one idea/tune

Thanks for the "one idea/tune out" clue. This is a new one for me. I have only thought of it as a conflict-creating on his part because of the need to hear himself think. I realize most of our cross talk ends with him talking louder and faster to drown me out or cut me off. I have learned to simply text in the form of numbering (1)...(2)... (3)... etc so they are registered like a bulletin board. He seems to be content with just the facts. I notice our son with autism needs a visual schedule as well so he does not have a meltdown. Chunks of tasks are presented in the form of pictures that are velcro-backed onto a board.


To me it seems the idea of

To me it seems the idea of reciprocity does not exist with my wife. As you say, it's a form of control when she says something and there is no room for reply and thefore no possibility of a dialogue. Sometimes she's prepared to the teeth for telling me something and she can't seem to prepare herself for more than one possible reaction from me.
A recent example where it all went painfully wrong:
She had a terrible bipolar weekend and realized (for once) that she had to do something drastic. She wrote down a "crisis plan" which essentially was that I was going to tell her when she's beginning to act crazy and then she would leave the house for another location. The presented me with this plan with great pride - it was the first time addressed the issue seriously for many years. When we sat down and talked I told that it was a good plan but it had one obvious flaw - that she would not agree to leave the house because everytime she "acts crazy" she believes that she acts rationally and that I'm just trying to make her feel bad. It's AFTER two days of drama, outbursts, door-slamming and drama that she admits that she was ill. Nothing in the world would convince her when she's "into it".
When I told her this, she immediately realized I was right and I saw the disappointment in her eyes (by this point know what lies around the corner), but from now on she avoids the issue of the plan's functionality as if was irrelevant (DENY!).  First she blames me for being negative (DEFLECT). She tried, you know (DEFEND). Yes, i say, but it's not working. We have to come with something even better, I say.

"Well, YOU come up something better then!" (DEFLECT)

(by this time she won't listen of course, and she's lost interest in the whole "crisis plan" thing because she's hurt).

Summary (this sounds very crass I know):
She comes up with some very flawed plans and ideas because she seems to have very little inner dialogue and ability to think critically when it comes to her own ideas (this comes up again and again - she's naive, not stupid) which she expects others to buy unconditionally. Everyone that knows her knows she has to have it her way or won't play. Which sadly means she doesn't get to play a lot at all. And - just like someone else mentioned above about her partner - she is a total extrovert. It's all so very dysfunctional and she is not happy.

And I think we have a long way to go. As I mentioned she has a double diagnosis (ADHD/Bipolar). She is neuroleptics for the bipolar stuff, but she's yet to try medication for ADHD (and from what I've heard there can be trouble combing the two). She finds it easy to identify with the bipolarity but she finds the ADHD diagnosis unflattering and shies away from it. She doesn't like the idea of having a "irreversible brain damage" and when she thinks of people with ADHD she thinks of clumsy idiots. That's how she puts it herself. "There is no idea having an ADHD diagnosis because there's nothing you can do about it!".
I try to tell that there is indeed many things you can do about it, but there are no easy cures. That's when she immediately shuts down! She won't be told what to do. She won't listen for more than a couple of minutes. Who am I to tell her all that stuff? Am I the expert? It all sounds  very complicated. And it makes me look like a fool, so it's in fact one big hidden accusation...


Wow, sounds like my hubby

My hubby always says this: "its not the same thing".

The other day we were at a store and I was taking a photo of a product and he asks, "You're taking a picture of the stuff?" and I was annoyed so I said, "why do you always question what I do?" and he said, "I wasn't questioning, I was asking." He says there is a difference. I asked my sister who was with us about it and she said it's the same. So am I nuts or what?

Also he ALWAYS says, "I'm not going to do that/it's not gonna happen/I don't want to." It is so like a child. If I had a dollar for every time he said these things, I'd be so rich!!!!!

I'm on eggshells around him as well; when he snaps at our daughter who is just FIVE, and I defend her, he says I'm taking her side and undermine his authority etc. Thing is, he is very harsh! He takes away her toys constantly, threatens her, tells her to be quiet when she's just laughing or playing with other kids and so on. He doesn't have any patience with her. Also if he goes with us anywhere, he's not interested in her. We both went with her to a gymnastics lesson and he didn't care to watch or see what she was doing, he just played a game on the iPad the entire time. When I'd point out something he wouldn't bother looking up.

Also he does not answer me when I speak to him. He says he is "thinking about a response" but I have sat there counting away to give him time and a response never comes. SO I tried it on him the other day and within 2 seconds of my not answering him he snapped at me!! Pot kettle black much??