Going on the Defensive, Making Excuses and Denying Fault During a Fight

Let me start by saying that I have ADHD, and my husband does not.

This fact in itself has been the underlying cause of nearly every one of our arguments and is often responsible for quickly turning a rational discussion into a full-blown war of words.

Though there are slight variations to each fight, the cycle goes something like this: My action, which in most cases is inaction, upsets my husband. The offense ranges from smaller things like repeatedly buying produce while there is some already rotting in our fridge to larger things like waiting until months after my car flashes its light to get the oil changed. He points out the facts and explains how they've made him feel, which is usually that I don’t care about him or respect him enough to do needs to be done. I then deny my culpability even if I know I was wrong, make excuses or flat out lie about my actions, all of which only make it worse. I try to rationalize and convince him the situation isn't that big of a deal, and he shouldn't be as affected as he is. At this point, he's usually recalling and listing previous similar actions and thoughtless behavior, which only furthers putting me on the defensive. In my mix of shame and indignation, I continue to invalidate his feelings and opinions by telling him how I think he should have reacted to the situation. Typically infuriated at this point, he asks for space, and instead of giving it to him, my increasing anxiety and need for validation for the good things I’ve done forces me to talk at him incessantly, saying anything I can think of that might help prove my point. That's when all hell breaks loose, and the fight usually ends with my husband questioning his commitment to staying in our marriage because I am consistently unreliable and unwilling to take responsibility for my actions.

Does this sound familiar?

By the end of every argument, I come to my senses and realize how wrong my fighting tactics are. But by this point the damage is already done. One of the worst things you can do to the person you love most is to invalidate his feelings and make a clumsy attempt at brainwashing him into thinking he was wrong for being upset. While I know how unfair this is, I cannot seem to stop doing it. It's almost as if I have no control over my actions when I go into argument mode. After our last fight I decided to do some research into why this is my go-to response during conflict, and luckily one of Melissa Orlov’s blogs provided information to help me understand.

Why is this happening?

In "Reasons Partners Lie...Lying Part 2," Melissa addressed how previous marital situations impact how future ones are handled. Of the seven reasons she lists for lying, I found that four directly apply to my actions and reactions in conflict:

  1. Avoidance of a partner's chronic anger
  2. Imbalanced relationship
  3. Not wanting to disappoint your partner
  4. Habit

In a heated discussion I do everything I possibly can to avoid giving my husband one more reason to become angry, one more instance that disappoints him and one more instance that proves I'm incapable of being an equal partner in our relationship.

Trying to break the cycle

After coming to terms with the thought process behind my incorrect reactions to his grievances, I've been able to help my husband understand that I have well-meaning intentions in my actions and in our fights, which is a good starting point. I've also adjusted my actions, and I'm now able to begin these tough discussions with an apology for making him fell as if I don’t care enough about him. No matter how ridiculous I think his response is to my action, it’s not OK to tell him he’s not allowed to feel what he’s feeling. Even though my instinct is to defend myself, I'm learning to acknowledge when I've made a mistake. I try to follow that up by validating my husband's feelings, opinions, and concerns, and letting him know I understand why my actions have affected him. And even when I falter and the conversation devolves into a fight, my partner knows I'm hearing him and really listening. Unlike immediately going on the defensive, reacting first with understanding creates a level playing field and allows us to progress through a discussion with respect and thoughtful discourse. Knowledge is power. The more you and your partner know about how ADHD affects your actions and your fights, the better the chances are of positively changing the situation for the better.


A Q For You

Sorry for this long rant, but . . .

OK, I COMPLETELY see myself in you, being the ADHDer and my DW the non-ADHDer. We BOTH had fallen into the same merry-go-round roller coaster when it came to arguments, devolving into nothing more than a shouting match and insult contest and BOTH of us feeling righteous in our indignation and hurt. She'd be hurt by my original mistake and possibly react to it by flying off the handle (many times because it may have been the latest in a string of schtuff), I'd react by feeling she over-reacted and acting / saying as such, and off we'd go, and the end would always be the same. I'd have to go back and apologize, but feel like I was giving in and that she'd have to apologize for NOTHING she did, even if it was a slap, below the belt insult, pouring a drink in my face, etc (YES it did get ugly). Luckily, those days are behind us (so I thought), when we BOTH started to go to individual counseling (for me, it was restarting it and for her, it was going for the first time in a LONG time).There was another precipitating event that also kick started our relationship recovery at the beginning of the year where she needed help and I provided it in a way I hadn't before. Since then, our relationship has been the best it has EVER been in our 24 years together and 19 as husband & wife. We did have our bumps, but this time, we handled it maturely and knew that we had each other's back and were on the same team, NO MATTER WHAT.

That all felt like it ended a few days ago and I'm very frustrated and feel like I'm back where I was this time last year. She had been sick for a few days early this week and I was helping her out like I've been doing this year - without question. On Tuesday I had ran around shuttling kids back & forth and running an errand. When I came home my older son asked for help on his Eagle Scout project and I obliged. When I went to check on my DW, we were talking and suggested I put dinner on so we wouldn't eat super late. I told her that I wanted to help my son first because I felt like I've been putting him off and didn't want to this time. . . then she got frustrated and said "FINE, I'LL DO IT!" and started to go down to make it. I tried to stop her and say that I'd do it, but she wanted none of it. SO there I am helping my son when she's angrily cooking - banging pots & pans, slamming doors, etc, making sarcastic comments all the while, and then I snapped. I told her to stop it and go upstairs because I'll cook, she had none of it, and I told her that if I was acting like her, she'd send me upstairs and rip me a new one. I told her again to stop and go upstairs & I'd take it over. Then things just escalated from there and culminated with her dumping a pot of soapy water on me, then she said she was going for a ride & needed the keys to the car. I angrily tossed them on teh ground to her and she went off in a huff. All this in front of the kids, who were understandably upset, and my teen cursing her out under her breath after she left. I tried to calm the kids down by saying that even though this was reminiscent of before, things are different this time because we really love each other and have learned to still respect each other, etc. . . . and when she get back I'd have to apologize for my part and if she chose to apologize for her part, that was up to her.

Well she came back, and no, it WAS JUST LIKE BEFORE and like this past 6 months never happened. She was all kind to the kids and ice cold to me. When we talked, she blamed the whole incident on me and was only sorry that she tossed the water on me, but not really that sorry. She said she didn't like being told what to do or where to go by me like I was a misogynist, and even said that I had grabbed her (which I honestly didn't recall ever doing). I did apologize to her for my stuff, but she was cold and also said that I had not only ruined the past 6 months, but just drove a wedge between us. If I could take back that day, I would, but I feel like I'm missing something and living in an alternate universe. She is in NO place to hear what she did wrong or that she was acting inappropriately herself - I'll take on my part in this, no doubt, but like before, I feel like she's putting the WHOLE thing on my shoulders when SHE had choices how to act, too. I'm really trying to put aside my pride to get back to the team, but I have a hard time dealing with her when she's like this, especially if I acted like her, I would get reamed up & down - I know that's true from experience. . . . .

SO how do I break the cycle, again without feeling like I'm selling myself out? You say that you validate his feelings, but how do I do that when I feel like her perception of things is warped AND I know I won't get the same validation in return?

Again, sorry about the rant, but looking for answers because I really do love my DW.

ADHD Highway

Sorry things took that turn.   I know I'll learn from your conversation with the OP

A thought...

My husband is the one with ADHD in our marriage, but I suffer with depression and anxiety. I know if I were the one sick in bed and my husband was doing everything, I would feel terrible, and I would probably take my anger out on my husband because he can do my jobs just as well, if not better than me while I lie around useless. Does that make sense? It isn't right of me to take my anger out on my husband, while he IS just trying to help, of course, but it happens, sadly. This might be the case with your wife, and if it is, then you didn't do anything wrong. This is something she'd have to work through.  

Hi ADHD_Highway_to_Toast,

Hi ADHD_Highway_to_Toast,

I first want to thank you for your post. It's helped me take a detailed look at my process for getting out of the forever-on-loop fight, and it's inspired a few other future blog topics. Please forgive my delay and for the length of this response. I wanted to really think about your question and ask my husband for his input, as I wanted to give you the best response possible.

Because this is a complicated issue, I believe the answer to breaking the cycle is . . . well, maybe not complicated but definitely a process, and one that involves understanding, taking responsibility and empathy.

During the four and a half years of our relationship that I was undiagnosed, my husband dealt with disappointment after disappointment from me, whether it be forgetting to pay an important bill, not coming home when I said I would, not doing the dishes like I promised or leaving a chair outside in the rain. Just like you with your DW, I often times thought the offense my husband was upset about was extremely minor, and I would tell him it wasn't a big deal and that he was over reacting. This, as you read, would turn into huge blowups. Even after receiving my ADHD diagnosis, I continued to react this way, as I still truly believed the things he was getting mad about were so minor and ridiculous. Even when he would tell me how rude and disrespectful I was to negate his feelings, I couldn't stop because I believed his feelings were irrational. But one night a few months ago, I had an epiphany-like moment in which I began to see that I had just as much fault in our fights—if not more—as he did.

The first part of my process was truly understanding and taking responsibility for the role I played in the resentment and anger that led my husband to overreact to the small things. I finally realized that it wasn't the one minor thing that initially upset my husband, nor was it the four other things I did that week that made the one minor thing seem like it was a big deal. It was the almost six years of disappointment, distrust, anger and resentment that slowly built up in his subconscious that come flooding back when that small thing happens. The diagnosis of ADHD makes it easier for my husband to understand my actions, and because of that, he's become more empathetic when I screw up. And while that's wonderful, the diagnosis doesn't erase the buildup of disappointment, distrust, anger and resentment those six years caused.

Once I came to terms with that truth, it was easier for me to validate his feelings during a fight (even if I didn't necessarily agree with them) because I knew that my past actions contributed to our current situation. Telling your partner that you understand how they could be upset with your actions and being empathetic toward their feelings is not agreeing with them or apologizing. It's saying, "I understand your frustration with me because this isn't an isolated incident and we’ve been here before." It also helped for me to know that the cause of my husband's anger is hurt (he is a very sensitive person). If I forgot something important or didn't follow through with something I said I would, he interpreted those actions as me not caring about his feelings. So now, when issues arise, I'm able to say, "I understand why you would be upset by this. I would like to assure you that I had no ill will when I did that. If I hurt you, I'm sorry. That was not my intention at all." In my marriage, it goes a long way when I make it extremely clear to my husband that I love him and that I’m sorry I hurt him, and it also goes a long way when he can tell I’m really trying to get better with my actions. When I show him empathy, he shows empathy in return. When I show him respect, he shows me respect in return.

I've also thought about it like this: If I felt hurt by someone's actions, and I voiced my grievances and told them how I felt, I would feel even worse if they told me I was overreacting because what they did wasn't a big deal and I should therefor not be upset. I now try to treat my husband with the respect I would like to be treated with if he hurt me.

But obviously, like in all marital issues, it takes two. When I came to my husband with my realizations, and I apologized for my part in our fights and for the years of disappointment and for not understanding his feelings, he saw my effort and decided to put forth his own. Aside from my ADHD-caused actions and inactions being highly annoying and sometimes slightly detrimental, there was a bigger reason he was getting irrationally hurt, and he's been exploring his hurt and subsequent rage in therapy with me and on his own. He has his own set of issues that he had before we met that have nothing to do with me, and he is working on them, just as I am going to therapy for my ADHD and working on me.

Finally, I believe it's IMPERATIVE for each person in the relationship to understand their own actions and reactions, and to also understand the actions and reactions of their partner. And it's imperative to discuss how they relate to every fight-causing circumstance (I would highly recommend waiting till the fight has subsided and then conducting a postmortem). It's been a godsend for my husband and I to have honest, thoughtful conversations about both of our parts in our fights.

I hope some of this helps. It’s been a long road that we are still traveling, and we have a long way to go, but it’s gotten worlds better in the last few months because we’re much more understanding of each other. I know how it feels to be in a circular fight with the person you love most, and I really hope you are able to find a way to get out of it.

Please let me know how it goes.


We have feelings too

 ...there was a bigger reason he was getting irrationally hurt...  it wasn't the one minor thing that initially upset my husband, nor was it the four other things I did that week that made the one minor thing seem like it was a big deal. It was the almost six years of disappointment, distrust, anger and resentment that slowly built up in his subconscious that come flooding back when that small thing happens.

You hit the nail on the head about why arguments and feelings get so riled up in my mind. I don't know if I even realized that this is what was happening inside of me when we had all those fights for all those years.  I had been holding in my subconscious my feelings of disappointment, distrust, anger and resentment for 40 years and bringing all those emotions you described into every little discussion about every little thing.

I can see from what you wrote, that you do try to see, hear and love your husband by acknowledging his pent-up feelings rather than to discount them or criticize him for having them.

Owning Your Feelings is Key Here Jenne

After making another post on the progress that my wife and I are making, I finally pinpointed a real problem with US, moving forward. This goes back to the idea of the BIG ROCK and the little rock and with each person a relationship being one little rock, and then the BIG ROCK is both people together and each little rock as a part to play and their own feelings and emotions.  If either person has a problem of an stumbling block that is preventing both people from moving forward or breaking the cycle, then identifying what that is, and who owns what....is almost mandatory if it's the thing that is at the source of the problem.  What I heard her say that was really an important part in this and possibly more important to think about in terms for someone who has been married for a very long time as you said.....40 years of it now.  Whether it's 40 years or 4 years together.....there is some of that, you bring with you from your past going all the way back to your childhood.  All the way back to the beginning that you had and still have to this very day.  If you really want to take full responsibility and own what is your's....you have to own all of it, including what you had before you were married since, that is still there to this day, it doesn't just go away just because you are not looking back far enough to see it.  We learn how to be from our parents and our family of origin, and you learned that over the entirety of your childhood right into adulthood.  When you are talking about subconscious feelings of disappointment, distrust, anger and resentment......that includes the last 40 years, and all the years before that too?  It all plays into this and it's always there and has been there....life, didn't begin or will end  with getting married or with your married life you know?  How you are now as I have really come to realize....is just a different version of how you were when you first got married....but even before that, from all your experiences growing up as a child too.  I've mentioned this before but I had this notion in my head as an early pubescent teenager with a few zits here and there ( no acne just zits ) that somehow by magic when I turned 21....then I would never have zits any more since adults don't have zits...only teenagers. LOL  And as we all know, it doesn't actually work that way!! LOL  I was rather disappointed when I found that I still got zits every now and again, even after I turned 21, at least for some years later when the zits finally went away. LOL   Establishing arbitrary lines or cut offs like that, is not always the best way to see it and I found out myself?  Zits and few other things I would have liked to imagine would just magically go away on my 21 birthday like I thought.  Not so much....time and age sometimes does little to effect that it's not the best way to see it when it comes to owning what is your's and separating what is not when comparing that to another person?   The clock really starts counting down to 0 when you own it and are aware of it as I've found.  And knowing what is your's or not, makes it easier to see what is someone else...which amounts to you not taking in what is not yours even if someone esle is standing there telling you it is?  It works both ways in a positive direction for yourself, when you can own everything that is yours...and not own what is not and letting that go even if the person your are with thinks what is actually theirs...thinking it's  yours...in the same way. 

You aren't required to take what is not yours, just because someone say you do?  You have to know what is yours and what is not yours first.....before you can do that effectively.  The beauty of "to thine own self be true"..and knowing exactly what that is.  When you can do that for yourself, you can see the same things in another person too even if you can't do anything to change them. It certainly gives you a base line to change yourself and improve without it being a judgment.  If you can stay on the objective side of things, it can work in your favor and be a useful tool in every respect. I really do try to see things as just "they are"....and "it is what it is" without allowing myself to gone down the judgment road, and use that for self improvement instead.  I've found having ADHD, the one thing no one is really going to give me and I have to give to myself, is validation for a job well done, when it comes to improving not necessarily saying I don't have more work and a ways to go?  If can get really  hopeless if you can't judge yourself accurately and give yourself credit where credit is due.  That's a silent process that you give to yourself along the way?  And that simply comes from understanding that a non -ADHD person can't do that since, there is just no way for them to know?  I will never be disappointed if I don't expect what is not reasonable and that is really not a realistic reasonable expectation on my part for someone who doesn't have it to give me.  How could you or anyone else know, unless you had ADHD yourself?  You can't.  That's why it's not a reasonable expectation for me to have and why I have to give that to myself no matter what?


Nice truth J....

I've only found one way to move past all the damage (emotional, physical, and Physiological) I've incurred since childhood, due to my own ignorance and sins, and the ignorance and sins of others...Is just what you are saying here....Own it!! (No matter how painful, and how tempted I am to pass it on to someone else)....When the man in the mirror is always the subject of my corrective efforts....Then and only then can I grow and move past the Dysfunction....(No matter what my spouse is doing or not doing)

For me the path to correction is God's word and his abiding spirit (they always agree)...I have to allow him to take me places I would not or could not (no human ability) go...(acknowledgement, confession, submission, repentance, quietness)....(Of course I'm just speaking for myself here)...I know that many humans like to trust in their own thinking, or find other paths they believe will lead to their healing...


Very sweet and insightful.  I

Very sweet and insightful.  I agree that acknowledging another person's viewpoint is very, very important in communication.  I especially like how you were able to draw on the distinction between communicating with a spouse and an outside person.  You recognized that a friend would feel very upset if you belittled or ignored their feelings or observations and can understand how your husband might feel the same way. Real discussion and resolution goes a long way to not opening the big 'ol suitcase filled with years of anger and resentment. It's much easier for me to maintain focus on the topic at hand if I'm not hijacked by all the old emotions and hurts.  For me, the emotional hijacking occurs exactly at that moment when I would expect to see a little genuine empathy or understanding and it doesn't happen. I am aware of that dynamic but cannot always successfully stop the train without appropriate feedback from my H. So, although I may take care to validate my H's position and feelings, the one way direction of the empathy leaves me vulnerable to the hijacked emotional overload. 

Last night was an example of how I could control it part way but not all the way.  Backstory of course is huge hidden debt, lies, love of credit cards to the point where our minimum debt service is unmanageable.  Our house needs repairs.  There isn't money to save for the repairs and there is no room to take on a smallish debt to handle things like roofing or a new HVAC unit. My H is doing extra work but he's spending all of it ($600 worth of remote control vehicle stuff in one month, anyone? Sigh)  It's to the point where I have taken on extra Saturday work to create a cash cushion and I honestly do resent it. We both understand that the house needs to be sold.  I love my house.  My garden contains every Mother's Day plant I have received in the last 20 years. I raised the kids there.  I've made it comfortable.  It is equidistant from four major shopping areas, two of which were developed after we moved in. It is even going to be 15 minutes away from the new Ikea we are getting (and the angels sing!) I love my convenience. It's convenient to the beach, I have a 20 minute commute, and it's close to everything else including my closest friends.  We can't keep it. I don't even know where else to move that is more affordable and in a decent neighborhood.  I am not a rural dweller. It makes me very sad most of the time and occasionally super angry. 

Yesterday I found another credit card in use.  This was after a statement 6 weeks ago that there were no other cards and nothing else being used.  (Because everything he wants must be NOW.)  

I brought it up and kept the conversation to real issues.  It is huge progress from where I was a year and a half ago.  Here's where it went downhill.  I expressed sadness over having to leave the house.  H in ADHD fashion misinterpreted what I was saying and accused me of being contradictory and giving mixed messages.  I wasn't being contradictory.  The house needs to be sold.  The circumstances haven't changed and the required decision is not changing.  However, I was expressing an emotion of sadness over having to leave, independent of the NEED to sell the house.  He interpreted it as though I was saying don't sell.  Sigh I know, those communication cues are tough. That is precisely where I *expected* or would have appreciated some recognition of the emotion or how it affected me or some mention of culpability or awareness that the current actions weren't helping the situation.... anything other than an attack about being contradictory. 

So, I explained my comment, ended the conversation and walked away.  Again, a far cry from where I was a year and a half ago.  However, it leaves me in a kind of purgatory.  The issue and emotion are unresolved so I still carry it with me from the argument.  It is not resolved so it festers and the next thing becomes the straw.  I don't feel any connection from H.  It gets thrown in that suitcase to be opened later with the buildup of all the other stuff.  

Each spouse can do his or her share, non ADHD or ADHD, but without both people coming together as you so eloquently wrote, a real resolution isn't possible.  Despite treading very carefully and remaining as neutral as I could be and sticking to facts, I'm sure my H still felt lectured even though I didn't unpack the whole suitcase.  I still felt completely emotionally abandoned and disregarded.  And fearful.  My anger has been rooted in hurt and genuine fear.  My h?  Not sure?  Shame?  Without the chance to take those basic emotions into account and BOTH of us looking at the dynamics there isn't much to be done.  

I'm so happy for you that you were able to see part of the pattern and bring it out into the open in a way BOTH of you can dissect and discuss. If I don't receive the validation I would expect from, say, a friend or even a co worker, consciously or unconsciously, the cascade of emotions starts. I'm better at controlling it now. LOL, I used to be consistently inconsistent. The validation makes me pause, take a breath and say thank you. 




Va......This Conflict Pattern is Really Tough

I'm going to be looking more into this concept of HCP or "high conflict people" which I can really see now in my wife very clearly.  What is most helpful to me, is just getting the validation that it's not all me, even though it comes back at me like it is?  And she will always say no matter what in a contrary way....."well you do that"...or....."everyone does that"............and yes, both of those statements are true?  What can you do or say to argue against what is actually true?  Because it is, I do all of these things on occasion, and yes, everyone does do these things at some point in time or at times and even rare for some or more common for others and all of that is true.  But what they say about something that happens once....you can say that accident or a mistake.  No harm no foul.    If it happens twice ( in a short period of time again )....you can say it's just a coincidence or luck or happenstance or even well everyone does that....and still get away with it.  If it happens 3 times in the same short time frame?  That's a pattern.  Strike 3 your otta there!!! LOL  Meaning....you can no longer use the same excuses or rational...after you've struck out!!  And then if it just keeps happening....it becomes ridiculously at that point?  Logically and resonably speaking.....after 3 times in a relatively short period of time.....there has to be another reason and you can no longer use vague generalities to explain it after that?  Just that much, and nothing else pretty tells you that this person is not aware of what they doing to the point that they actually say those things and say  "well everyone does that".  ( eerrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! )  That is a person, who is willing to own the first 2....and then not all the other ones after that.  Resolution isn't possible because resolution is not what they want.  I just read that so I'm just repeating back "that's not what they want".  As I read into that more....it's not that a person would not like resolution or they actually don't "want it"....but for what ever reason there is....they cannot get that for themselves and so you on the recieiving end are not going to get that either?  Pretty much in simple terms.  I want resolution....and I'm simply not going to get it.  If I do....I have to fight and scratch and claw for every inch I get which is just ridiculous at times since it really makes no sense what so ever but yet.....it just is.  And that's that.  I'm not going to get what I want and I have to let that go but up to a point, when it starts hurting me or I am getting blamed for no resolution, is where this goes haywire and I have to say something.  Not only am not, geting what I want.....I also getting what I don't want know which is exactly where our T is having us look at.....that extra bonus on top or the addition to alreayd not getting what I want.  It's bad enough to not get it in the first place,  getting blamed or accused or what every on top and fault finding or blame casting ( or chastizing ) is now getting a whole lot of what I don;t want....so what I want..gets buried underneath that now instead.  What I don't want....is a lot more important than what I want.. and that is just messed up beyond belief sometimes and I have to be able to see that as separate and know the difference myself.

I have a quick and funny story I just remember about a guy who I use to work with.  When our company was doing well and there were 14 or us ( not 3...like when I left. side note:  I hear there is only 1 employee left now going from 16 at one time ) so I know that was the right move now for sure since it wouldn't ended u[p the same anyway )  So we were all at a big party at the house of one of my fellow eimployees and he had a basket ball court in his back yard so a number of the men got together to play "HORSE" just for fun. And there were 5 or 6 of us, including this one guy I wanted to mention.  He was always problematic but in this case it went into the ridiculous.  He was the first to get HORSE, so it was time for him to get off the court right?  Wrong!!!  He started arguing that he didn;t have HORSE....he only had HORS..and we were all wrong. LOL  Okay. Have it your way.  So we gave it too him and he got one more chance and he missed again! LOL  HORSE!!!   Oh no...no he didn't according to him. LOL  I don't even remember how that worked because now we were all yelling at him to get off the court and he wouldn't leave??? LOL  ( like wtf??? )  But we were laughing too, because it was just a stupid game of HORSE and we were all drinking and having fun... but he still would not concede and we just wanted to keep playing but he was standing right under the basket and wouldn't move? LOL  So we started to really give him a bad time but still, no one was angry but we started to throw insults at him just to get him off the court.  In the mean time, my favorite person in the world and one of my closest friends ( now deceased ) went over to the fire wood pile and grabbed a rather stout piece of fire wood and came over to him and started swinging it as his knee...since we all knew he had a bad knee from some major accident he had when he was younger, and now my Dave ...his swinging this piece of firewood at his knee as if his knee was a soft ball or something which caused him to step back and Dave kept advancing on him and with eash swing of the firewood, he would tale another step back until he walked him back wards right off the court and we all immediately continued play. LOL  And he still wouldn;'t leave to the point he was still trying to argue that he didn't get HORSE even after we let him have an extra chance and he missed that one too!!! LOL like OMG!!!!  What can you do?  As it turned out, his wife heard the comotion outside and looked to see us all ganging up on him, so she got their coats and stuff and came down and told him..."time to leave now". LOL  Which he did, at her insistence.  It was just, a stupid friendly game of HORSE just for us guys to have some bonding time alone togehter have a couple of drinks and few laughs and no one cared who won or lost.  Except for him.  He cared so much that he created a scene and disrupted the entire game for everyone.  And over what?  And here you had 5 guys screaming that we all were keeping track..and we all agreed that he was out and he wouldn't leave of concede and all he did was argue that he didn't lose or was out of the game?  Not until my friend Dave found a creative way to get him off the court that was so funny ( I was dying at that point ) that we could even get him to budge or move?  All you can do or say.....;is what his wife did.  Just come and say "time to leave,  we're leaving now, say good bye, he we go, we're going now"...and that was it.  His ride was going, so he had to go.  If it wasn;t for the fact that his ride home was going, he'd have probably still been there arguing that he didn't have HORSE.  And I'll bet you if you asked him to this day , he would recall that we all cheated, and lied and he only had HORS ( which he kept repeating over and over )  and we intentionally did that just to get rid of him?  And the fact of the matter was, we didn't want to get rid of him...we just wanted him to move off the court so we could finish the game?  We didn't care what he did, except for the thing he was doing..and that was it???  Talk about self sabotaging?  It's just that ridiculous really, so why even argue or take anything like that in on to yourself.  It has nothing to do with you, you can know that for sure.


Thanks for the feedback

Good points. I hear "everyone lies" "everyone uses credit cards" "you've never lied, look me in the eye and tell me you've never lied!!!" 

Those are true statements.  Children universally try out lying during their development. And the majority of people learn and move past it as a standard coping mechanism. But, yes, everyone over the age of 2 has lied.  Statistically almost 100% of the US population has used/is using/carrying some kind of credit card balance or debt.  Who pays cash for a house or car or even college?  A tiny tiny tiny percentage of the US population. 

Yeah?  The point is?  It's hard when someone muddies the water like that.  Purposefully, knowing that the real conversation is about a habitual lying pattern within the marriage and not lying within the norm of society.  I ignore it now as if these types of comments weren't even spoken. We're not arguing the societal definition of responsible credit card usage. We're arguing psychologically disordered credit card use. The definition isn't even the discussion.  The discussion is how it affects us and how to correct. 


Thanks for the feedback

Good points. I hear "everyone lies" "everyone uses credit cards" "you've never lied, look me in the eye and tell me you've never lied!!!" 

Those are true statements.  Children universally try out lying during their development. And the majority of people learn and move past it as a standard coping mechanism. But, yes, everyone over the age of 2 has lied.  Statistically almost 100% of the US population has used/is using/carrying some kind of credit card balance or debt.  Who pays cash for a house or car or even college?  A tiny tiny tiny percentage of the US population. 

Yeah?  The point is?  It's hard when someone muddies the water like that.  Purposefully, knowing that the real conversation is about a habitual lying pattern within the marriage and not lying within the norm of society.  I ignore it now as if these types of comments weren't even spoken. We're not arguing the societal definition of responsible credit card usage. We're arguing psychologically disordered credit card use. The definition isn't even the discussion.  The discussion is how it affects us and how to correct. 


vabeachgal, yep, feel this also

Yep, this is a hard one for me also. the "one way direction of the empathy", also leaves me vulnerable at times to only being able to have to work things out on my own, and in my own head.  And, with a "couple's" life, I think it makes it somewhat harder, because we ARE a married couple, but have to operate as if we are still separate and NOT married. I find this extremely hard to navigate, since my primary thoughts are to work things out AS a couple.  And, it's hard to do this with someone who doesn't talk things out AT ALL, and finds it hard to verbalize anything except "external" things and/or things he keeps "hoping or wishing for".  He has yet, not been able to say what is truly in his heart, and what he feels. Then, if he does say something in relation to that, it can change or it doesn't seem totally genuine. (almost as if he's saying something he thinks I WANT to hear, and not what is really in his heart and mind) Sometimes I wonder if he really WANTS a close "marriage" relationship, but just SAY SO, and don't let me have to guess everything. 


"The first part of my process was truly understanding and taking responsibility for the role I played in the resentment and anger that led my husband to overreact to the small things. I finally realized that it wasn't the one minor thing that initially upset my husband, nor was it the four other things I did that week that made the one minor thing seem like it was a big deal. It was the almost six years of disappointment, distrust, anger and resentment that slowly built up in his subconscious that come flooding back when that small thing happens. The diagnosis of ADHD makes it easier for my husband to understand my actions, and because of that, he's become more empathetic when I screw up. And while that's wonderful, the diagnosis doesn't erase the buildup of disappointment, distrust, anger and resentment those six years caused."

This is where I'm at in my thought process. My husband of 30 years was diagnosed years ago, but we've known for a long time that something was going on. After knowing about this for years and living with the turmoil of it on a daily (hourly) basis, he has decided to try medication. I am hopeful, but our marriage has been very rocky for the past 2 years and I can't get that out of my head. He understands though. That in itself is pretty awesome!   

Feathers Me Too as Well

I have to to think about this working from both directions.  My part, that Ive come so far along over the years from where I was, can easily see myself back years ago...where my wife is now, and go  "well, but I was XX years old when I was like that, what';s her problem!!!"  But I have to admit, I was like that too but only up to a point.  I think I was always more aware of myself than she is even now, and learned how to manage things at a younger age when it was easier to do?  The thing is, it is like riding a bike to a certain degree.  Once the training wheels come off, you never need them again and you only improve from that in an on going fashion. It's also why I can see myself better and see what is ADHD and what isn't because what isn't, can be changed and modified much easier than what is?  As time goes by and the training wheels come off these symptoms one by one, what is left at the end of the entire process is purely what is ADHD and really nothing else?  All the emotional and behvioral aspects to it are realted of influenced but you have control of that much, you just have to learn how.  That's really the part that anyone with us is effected by the most?  I mean really if you stop and think about it...if losing track of things on occasion, some minor forgetfullness or just forgetting stupid minor things and being a little scattered...was all there was to deal with on your end?  How bad are those things really in the big scheme of things.....compared to the emotional roller coaster, the anger outbursts, denial all these irrational behaviors when it comes right down to it?  It's the controlling behaviors and the acting out emotionally that is really the most problematic. If it were just being messy for me and nothing else...I could deal with that easily...and probably anyone with me would look at that and weight that against everything else and it still wouldn't be that big a deal?  If everything was equal and that's all it was?  And at this point, it is about all there is that I honestly can't help at times which I simply equate to oversights  but I've reduced them down and minimized the them so much, that I know plenty of non-ADHD people who hare worse than me...if I put myself in the big picture with everyone else.  What I have to deal with emotionally and the energy it takes out of me....just not to argue over meaningless stuff for the sake of arguing and nothing else?  She just has to do it....for what ever reason, just to argue and be contrary for no other reason.  Thats just exhausting since it really serves no ( good purpose ) even though it does serve the person doing it...at a price to everyone else?  I do expect her to do it...and in respect to dissapointment...I am not dissapointed when it happens and it doesn't hurt as it use to....but I'm really tired of it continuing when I don't seeing her make the effort.  That is my biggest complaint in terms of doing something about it, and leaving me to fix it for her.  That is the hard part when it appears...she needs somebody to do it to....but I refuse to be that somebody and allow her do it.  That just takes a lot of effort and work....and in comarison, I'm not seing the same coming from her which is where my resentment comes from?  Not so much the past, but in the current yet....i see the forward progress....but the constant threats of leaving just make that all the worse.  I mean, you couldn't make it harder on me.....than if she set out do to so which I do know, that is not her intention but the results still feels that way for me.


Almost on the other side

It's been a while since I visited this group, and I have so much in common with just about everyone. My spouse found out she had ADHD 14 months ago, and the whirlwind got worse after this diagnosis. She felt guilty and remorseful, but her defensive behavior only escalated. I went through all the stages of feeling angry for being made to feel like I was the one responsible for our fights, and being made to feel like feeling invisible was just in my head. I handled all responsibilities, and was unhappily married. In the last 6 years of our 8 year union, we opened a business, and rehabbed a home. All came crashing within the last 14 months.  I have been abandoned by my spouse. Added stress with her mothers health and a new found diagnosis sent my spouse over the edge. She planned a new life and attacked my character on a grand scale. I've gone through an incredible traumatic experience that is not over. I've been threatened, bad mouthed, abandoned with a business and a home to handle. I've been covering up for her to our neighbors and customers, and living in chronic physical pain due to the physical demands of our responsibilities. I guess what I'm sharing is an extreme example. My spouse changed in a extreme fashion to the point where she is unrecognizable. For the last 8 months, I've been challenged in a way that I just cannot understand. She demands I pay her bills and to only communicate through email. She threatens to make my life hell even-though she's already devastated me. After all of this, my family has opened up about how she made them walk on eggshells and a day didn't go by when they didn't witness her pick at me or start a combative conversation. I'm heartbroken, but now I can actually realize that my marriage was not fixable. ADHD didn't make my spouse do this. I think it assisted with her inability to recognize her damaged perspective. It is a blame and shame challenge. She was too busy blaming in order to deal with her shame and there's no way out if that cycle. It's lead her to abuse me, abandon her life she created with me, and to work overtime to start a freshly new life where truth does not live. I'm sorry for those that are labeled destructive due to ADHD, but let me tell you, if your spouse with ADHD works on their relationship and uses tools to overcome blaming, and defense, than the little things can be loved. Not everyone is an abuser, now I know I was being abused. Now I know I deserved to be heard, appreciated, and not to be made to feel that I have deserved this egregious abandonment. I deserve love, and so does anyone willing to give love and work for it.