He actually believes what he's saying, even when it's not true

I know, this is an endless topic... my husband who has mild ADHD really believes everything he says, even when it's completely false.

Example: We have been arguing about a renovation that needs to be done - since last spring - it's now November. He will not commit to doing it, yet he won't allow me to go ahead, even though I want to and can pay for it, because he wants control over it? He doesn't really want to do it? Not sure. Last Tuesday I confronted him again, and he said he would get back to me in 3 days with his answer. Well, he went away camping, and 3 days were well past, so I told my husband I am calling a contractor, he is free to participate, but we're going ahead. This is a reno that is really much needed, in my own workspace, and if we don't do it soon, there might be health issues because of mold.

Suddenly he tells me that the very next day, after that 'wait-3-day conversation', he had told me that he agreed to do the job himself, with all kinds of details about how and when etc!!!  We. never. had.that. conversation. I tried to get him to tell me which day, which time of day, what room were we in, when he told me all this stuff. He just gets angrier and walks out.

He yells at me, telling ME I am only using this topic as an excuse to yell and be mad!!! Hell, I would have been DELIGHTED if he'd actually offered to do the work. Why the heck would I want an excuse to be mad? On top of that, he blames me for all the defects in the previous work that was done on the house and property because I'm the one who hired the workers. You would not believe the stuff I'm responsible for, every leak, every tiniest problem, 1/4 inch off square in a corner... sometimes I think I might be responsible for WWI, the Big Bang, world famine, and maybe even global warming. For sure, global warming. He makes me feel like s---. But on the other hand, he will never actually commit to BEGINNING anything, so naturally I am always perfect for blaming.

But he believes it all! It's kind of insane. At times I think I will have to just blow my head off to feel better. Different versions of this story happen all the time. He tells outright lies, but to him, they are truth.

Can someone please help me think this through and find a peaceful space. In most things he is a kind, gentle man. No one would believe me if I told them this stuff.

Are we married to the same

Are we married to the same man??  My husband does the same things: won't commit to projects yet won't let me do them either.  It drives me freaking INSANE.  My therapist advised me to ask my husband for a time when he can give me a decision or discuss something with me.  He will usually say "I don't know" etc.... So then I'm supposed to say "OK, how about Saturday at 2 PM?"  Then he'll say "I don't know, don't push it" or something like that... Then I'm supposed to cheerfully reply "OK, then Saturday at 2", and if he still won't discuss or decide at the appointed hour I'm supposed to do it myself.  The point is to make it clear he's had his chance to have his say. It kinda helps-- perhaps it will work for you.

As for the blaming thing--  Well, I grew up in a family that was very good at playing the "blame game".  Over the years, though, I have gotten much better at "owning" my own mistakes and bad behavior, and likewise I've gotten a lot better at calling people out when they try to put the blame and crap on me.  Hubby did that this morning.  I told him, "I'm not the bad guy and I'm not going to let you make me the bad guy, this is YOUR issue and I won't let you put it on me."  Of course he got very pissed and has barely spoken to me all day but it's HIS immaturity that's causing the problem, not me.   

He's being a pouty  little kid right now. I'm not making this up--- about 8 PM a huge chunk of plaster fell down from the ceiling in our (very old) house and crashed onto the foyer floor.  He and our son both ran out to see what had happened.  Hubby observed the mess, then went upstairs to bed.  Son (age 11) ran and got a broom and dustpan and helped me clean.    Who's more mature?????  At the moment I am thinking this is a divorceable offense.   (I mean, what kind of man does that??? Sees his wife facing a big catastrophic mess and just turns around and goes to bed???)


Is your husband on meds or anything?   Mine has just been officially diagnosed with ADHD after an extensive battery of tests.  Now he is dragging his feet on making an appointment with a psychiatrist to hopefully get medication.  I will have to make that appt for him this week if he won't do it himself.

Yes I think we married the

Yes I think we married the same man. You may have to make the appointment. I make all the appointments here, or they would never happen. LOL.

No meds yet, we talked about it a couple of years ago and he nearly went for it - and frankly I wasn't fully on board with it, but now he doesn't think he has ADHD and I can't bring it up any more or he gets mad.

I tried your method... that was the whole point of my note above! He had 3 days to think about the renovation and then when he passed the date,  I decided to act - THEN he claimed that he'd already offered to do the job! THERE IS NO WAY TO WIN.

Sometimes I don't even think he recognizes me, he makes me out to be some horrific creature who has it in for him. Today he told me that no man would want to be with me because I don't know how to ask for things properly. I asked him to give me an example. So, I am supposed to say " Honey, this problem is really bugging me, is there any way you could fix it for me?". As if I didn't try 100 ways to ask. He is too busy, he will do it in 2 weeks. He will do it tomorrow. He wants to wait till there are 5 other things to do so that it's worth bringing out the tools. He does not realize that there is no way to ask that makes things actually happen. Personally I would LOVE to test drive another man just to see if he's right.  LOL

I think when a job needs to be done, especially a crucial one, a real man doesn't need to be asked, he just does it? Well I know it's not about being a real man or woman, it's about dealing with this damn ADHD - it's like another person between us. I am hating it and I don't know what to do any more.

barneyarff's picture

I understand all too well

I understand all too well what you are going through.  Now you have found a way to "give" him the time (3 days)to respond, etc and when he doesn't he's screwed and all he can do is yell and make you feel crazy.   This is manipulation pure and simple.  He tries to do things that make you feel like you are the crazy one.

Here is what happened today here.  I am ready to buy a new house.  There are 2 that would really fit us.  the realtor wants to come and look at our house to give us an idea as to how much it's worth.  I don't even want friends to come in because it's so messy.  I've asked DH to please clean up the garage, the shed and his room.  Almost all of the stuff is his or stuff that I wanted to get rid of and he refused to let that happen.  We had a huge row about this where he ended with the typical "I just can't talk to you"  And for the FIRST TIME I replied "Well, you'd better figure out how because tomorrow the banks are open and I have an appointment to talk to the manager to get a loan for a condo"   Now this is not news, but you'd think I had smacked him.

I'm going to be out of town for 6 weeks on business.  He told me that he could easily get those 3 areas cleaned up to the satisfaction of the Realtor by then if I would promise not to buy a condo or talk about buying a house or talk about the mess in the house.  I wrote it down on the calendar.   So, what do I find when I walk into the family room?  There's a box  from his room that may not be technically his stuff (but he wouldn't let me throw it away).  I know what's going to happen.  And here this is like your situation.  Instead of just getting stuff done, he is figuring out how he can blame me for this and "show" me that ALL the problem is my stuff.  I see it coming.   When he does it I will rent a dumpster and toss it all in there and he will have a stroke.  Then I will buy the condo because I will know I have done everything I could to make this work and to the last gasp DH tried to manipulate it to me all my fault and to make me feel crazy.  Then he will whine that he just can't talk to me.   

My children are only OK about me going on this business trip because they know I will make a lot of money and that we can get out of here.   and he still doesn't get it.   

Now he's acting all happy.  Of course he is, he is off the hook for 6 weeks.  How in the hell did a smart person like me allow this to happen?

I know I know.... somehow he

I know I know.... somehow he always manages to make me feel like the crazy one. When I try to explain to close friends, it's so complicated I get lost in the telling. It goes back too far and each step is filled with some kind of lie or evasion. It's like an iceberg, with the giant part hidden underneath. Your story, barneyarff, sounds just like many of mine. Many! I wonder how I got myself into this too... although we have been together 10 years, it started around 6 years ago when my Dad was killed in a car accident, and my husband was NOT supportive, behaving like he was the only one who knew how to cope with it. He made me cry a dozen times, as if I wasn't already freaking out enough! Then he can just come back up the stairs whistling, like nothing happened, and just be as sweet and loving as pie. Maybe I'm the one who's insane.

Well I am going to persevere with the 'time limit' idea, even if it didn't work this first time. Even if the mere mention of a time limit makes him mad. Everything makes him mad, so why not just grit my teeth and suck it up.

Yeah, if he's going to get

Yeah, if he's going to get mad anyway, just go ahead and proceed once the time limit has passed.  Even if he's mad, the job will get done. 

If my husband was outright refusing to take meds or go to counseling and/or denying he had ADHD (even though "officially" diagnosed), I would be out of here.  (Well, actually *he* would be out of here since the house is in my name only.)   There's a point where you've just got to say "ENOUGH". In my situation, I'm hoping things will get better with treatment, but if they don't, or he decides to refuse treatment, I'm going to "lawyer up".  No kidding.

Making others think they are crazy seems to be a trend...

When I saw the title to this comment, it brought me to tears.  My husband does the same thing, fighting to make me think that I am crazy!  He would rather fight to make me think that something is wrong with me that to admit that the things that he does and says are totally off base and crazy from anyone's point of view.  The things that I ask him to do and the ways that he responds to things just don't make much sense, but he constantly tries to make me think that my concern over his behavior is just me being picky.  We come from two different 'sides of the track' and that is always his defense of our points of view.  Because I am so unfamiliar with people from his part of town, I started viewing them all through his behavior, which he very obviously allowed.  Now that I am starting to get wiser to his tricks, and they are tricks to get himself out of how water, I see now that it is just him, not them or me that is a huge part of so much of the problems that plague our marriage. 


I'm a smart person too--- but

I'm a smart person too--- but I didn't know what I was looking at.  For a long time. sigh.  And sometimes smart people do dumb things.  In retrospect, I now see that my first husband must also be ADHD.  But the first had more of an emphasis on the "H" part while the current husband has no "H" at all-- and this makes them look very different. I guess I must just Loooove that hyperfocus courtship, LOL. 

In your shoes, I'd probably cut straight to buying the condo and moving out with the kids.  Assuming my husband refused treatment, that is.  (Has yours? Or does it just not help?)   

If I still wanted the realtor to come over, I'd move his box of crap back into his room and hire some cleaning service or maybe 1-800-GOT-JUNK to clean out the shed and garage and take his crap to a storage unit, which I'd make him pay for (we have separate accounts, which is a blessing).   One disgusting room (his room) shouldn't be too much of a black mark on the house appraisal.   

also smart

I also think I am a smart person, and unfortunately, just did not know what I was dealing with. Wow, these posts sound like my life! Seriously, mine does exactly the same thing. I finally concluded that a) he tells me things, or that he will take care of things, just to get me to stop bugging him in that moment, but they don't really mean anything b) if I try to talk to him about his out of control mess and clutter, he will find one example of something I didn't take care of, or that the refrigerator has a container of spoiled food in it (not sure why it is only my job to throw it out--because I buy it all?), or one thing I did late, etc., to "show" me that I have an equal problem. Which I don't, at all. c) I am tired of being embarrassed when people want to come over and my house looks like the show "Hoarders." d) I also am ready to be "out of here" and feeling nothing but relief. Mine has not treated or taken seriously his ADHD for years, and the last two years have been hell.  

I notice my ADHD dh states a

I notice my ADHD dh states a lot of things including TV trivia as "fact", when it fact there are errors or mistakes, but the way he states it sounds so definitive and educated. I don't really catch him or call him on it anymore, it's just too bothersome and I think it's his way of liking to "state" things, it must have a certain ring of finality or complete authority for him. In public, if I've been speaking to anyone, he will feedback by saying "No! yada... yada...", even when in essence he is agreeing with what I say -- but he has to negate with that one word, go figure. I guess it makes him sound so much more influential. I think anyone who is even remotely observant, notices this.

There are still walls that have not been painted in this house since we moved into it 20 years ago and I have mentioned it repeatedly over the years. I've painted the boys, craft room and part of the kitchen/bathroom (he helped b/c company was coming that week, so he could say he did it). For the den, I had painstakingly stripped each wall of the wallpaper and painted each wall as I went along. Well, I was about to strip and paint the 4th and last wall when out of the blue he "took charge". Not only did he paint the 4th wall, but he DID NOT bother to strip the wallpaper! :( :( :(  Now all I stare at is a hideous wall with buckling and cracked wallpaper underneath it. He also left splatters all over the floor in front of the wall which I had to scrape off later. I am still bothered by how he turned a labor of love into a wall of crap. It was almost as if he felt he couldn't stand that I was so dedicated to it, and he really did a horrendous job. I don't know if I'll ever be able to re-do that wall. I'd have to restrip all the paint, wallpaper and probably what seeped underneath. Just thinking about it raises my blood pressure.

Here's a kicker.... and I'm still with him. One year, I fell through part of the upstairs window in a freak fall and not only broke my humeris (the knobby part of my shoulder) but also dislocated my shoulder. What does my husband do? He carries on ranting and raving about how much it's going to cost him to replace that window, busy sweeping up the debris, all the while I've gone all ashen and in obvious shock and a lot of pain. My kid is freaking out and in shock himself having witnessed the accident. I'm crying and asking him to please tend to me, tend to our kid, please get me in bed, get me water, anything -- my whole body is sweating profusely in reaction to the trauma and he goes "no! i gotta clean up this &*^% mess first it's going to cost at least $xx.xx!!" After he does that, he insists I will be okay, that I should just go to sleep. I'm in such pain and suffering in shock that I do not get medical attention until nearly 10 hours later.... and then due to a negligent hospital, I did not get my shoulder re-set until 18 hours from the time it was dislocated.

A few weeks later while I was still recovering and still on/off pain, I discovered he had finished off half my bottle of Vicoden. He also gave me a playful punch one day - right on my injured shoulder. I nearly kicked him in his jewels in reflexive response. How much more unaware can a person with ADHD be??

I'm still married to this man. Any rational man would have gotten the kids to the neighbors and called an ambulance and went to the ER with me. But my ADHD husband chose to ignore my pleas and insist "you're okay, you'll be fine". I'm not sure what rational woman would stay after this incident. If I told anyone in the family, they would never have believed me.

Lord, Goddess, whatever -- it feels good to get this all out of me. I've been like some pressure cooker about to let loose and not in a good way. I want to expose him to the rest of his family so badly but I know it would do no good. He's the breadwinner of the family and that's all that matters to most of them.






it does feel better

It does feel better to let it out on these forums. Posting here helps me a lot!

I find my husband does the same as yours, he will NEVER actually agree with me, no matter what I say! If I say something is black, he will say it's dark charcoal, just so he doesn't have to be seen agreeing! Or he will do the same as yours, start with a NO, then go on to say the exact same thing I said in a different way. to make it sound like it's his idea. I don't know why he has to do that. I never act like I'm right all the time - I'm always willing to admit I've made mistakes and always willing to listen to the other side. Sigh.

I fell down our office steps one day and badly sprained my ankle - it swelled up like a grapefruit immediately and all he did was help me to the couch then spent the rest of the day ignoring it like it didn't happen. Why do they do this? Is anyone monitoring these posts to provide some insight?


My Ex does the same thing as do the 5 kids that I have with ADHD and ADD. It never ends. I have eventually just ignored it as if they don't do it. They tell me they don't recognize that they are doing it and are not trying to argue but stating their opinion. That drives me crazy. :) I just move on anymore and avoid the arguments and irritations. After all, Im the only one irritated by it. 

Ive had days where Im sick and on the couch and he will watch the kids for me. The kids will ask and ask him questions and nothing. He doesn't even acknowledge they are asking questions. Then they come to me. 

Im new to this page, so I don't have a lot of insight. After 17 years of marriage and two years after our divorce, it hasn't changed. Not one day. I wish there was a fool proof response to each behavior. I wish there were days that they would at least have a "wow" moment and realize how they are. But that hasn't happened yet. Maybe we can both get answers and help.

The Constant Arguing is just so....

My husband does this as well.... I will say something like, This pasta taste really sweet.  He will then say something like, "No, the sugar content is just a bit higher in the tomatoes that most.  Maybe they are Roma Tomatoes." I will just look at him and say, No matter what kind of tomato it is, that would still make the pasta taste sweet.  What I was commenting on what the taste of sugar, not where it came from.  He will then say, well we are saying the same thing, I agree with you... 

No is not a term of agreement.

I am constantly telling him that the words that he uses have there own meaning and that word choices to those that are not in his head matter in the message he is delivering.

Did I mention that he has his own meanings to common every day words? 

If the Webster Dictionary has many possible meanings to a work like talk for example he will either make up his own meaning, or use one that does not apply to the conversation.

Here are some definitions of the work talk.  He will skip over the most obvious definition, number 1- and claim to be using Definition 37B ( the last one listed here)  which is the Idiom version that has no place in the conversation, just to be different. He will then use the dictionary as a defense of his use of the word.

talk from www.dictionary.com

verb (used without object)
to communicate or exchange ideas, information, etc., by speaking: to talk about poetry.

to consult or confer: Talk with your adviser.

to spread a rumor or tell a confidence; gossip.

to chatter or prate.

to employ speech; perform the act of speaking: to talk very softly; to talk into a microphone.
verb (used with object)
to express in words; utter: to talk sense.

to use (a specified language or idiom) in speaking or conversing: They talk French together for practice.

to discuss: to talk politics.

Informal. (used only in progressive tenses) to focus on; signify or mean; talk about: This isn't a question of a few hundred dollars—we're talking serious money.

to bring, put, drive, influence, etc., by talk: to talk a person to sleep; to talk a person into doing something.

the act of talking; speech; conversation, especially of a familiar or informal kind.

an informal speech or lecture.

a conference or negotiating session: peace talks.

report or rumor; gossip: There is a lot of talk going around about her.

a subject or occasion of talking, especially of gossip: Your wild escapades are the talk of the neighborhood.

Verb phrases
talk around, to bring (someone) over to one's way of thinking; persuade: She sounded adamant over the phone, but I may still be able to talk her around.

talk at,
to talk to in a manner that indicates that a response is not expected or wanted.

to direct remarks meant for one person to another person present; speak indirectly to.

talk away, to spend or consume (time) in talking: We talked away the tedious hours in the hospital.

talk back, to reply to a command, request, etc., in a rude or disrespectful manner: Her father never allowed them to talk back.

talk down,
to overwhelm by force of argument or by loud and persistent talking; subdue by talking.

to speak disparagingly of; belittle.

Also, talk in. to give instructions to by radio for a ground-controlled landing, especially to a pilot who is unable to make a conventional landing because of snow, fog, etc.

talk big, Informal. to speak boastingly; brag: He always talked big, but never amounted to anything.

talk someone's head / ear off, to bore or weary someone by excessive talk; talk incessantly: All I wanted was a chance to read my book, but my seat mate talked my ear off.

talk to death,
to impede or prevent the passage of (a bill) through filibustering.

to talk to incessantly or at great length.


Just drives me crazy. 


It's not sweeter, it just has a higher sugar content. LOL!

Well I know when you are in a situation and really mad, it's hard to see the humor, but just try telling some of these stories to someone and it just sounds plain funny.

I tell my mother about all the stuff he does and she just laughs, because really, it doesn't even sound real.

This is darn hilarious. And

This is darn hilarious. And how ironic the word is "talk." :)

Can see it happening in our household too.

Here's another weird but true incident about denying the practical, rational reasons for something and instead making up an incomprehensible, irrational reason to explain away the most commonsense of knowledge:

We'd been having bats come into our home and become active at night. All of a sudden I'll open my eyes and there's one circling the room or right above my head. I tell ADHD dh, "After you use the fan in the attic, make sure the flaps to the exhaust fan are closed. The bats are getting in thru the slats."

His response? "No, they are not coming through the attic." "No, they are not coming thru the chimney, nor the open slats, nor the chimney walls that are falling apart and exposing beams"  "No. They are coming thru the slits in the windows of our son's room."

Like a lobotomized servant I go and check my son's room and actually look for the slits. Unless there are bats on this earth that can enter through locked windows by flattening themselves paper-thin, there's no way in hell the bat is coming in through closed windows, let alone a lower level of the house.

I had to physically take him to our son's room and show me where the bats are coming in thru. Did he mean osmosis? Or something weird like an alternate universe? When he couldn't explain his reality, he told me he went and gorilla taped the exhaust fan shut in the attic, no more bats, thanks to him.

Goddess help me! I hope you can all get a laugh out of that... I don't want to cry anymore but I can still laugh.





You mean it's not just me?: Or he will do the same as yours, start with a NO, then go on to say the exact same thing I said in a different way.  No one in my family understands that this happens 20, 30, 40 times a day and how painful it is.  Why is this a feature of ADHD, I wonder?

OMG indeed!!!

It is one of the craziest things that happens. The No, but--then similar comment just in his words....


Another thing?   Why is it so important for them to feel like they are the ones that are coming up with everything?  Or that they have to have the last word?  Or need to be the center of attention?

Case in point: Last night we were with some friends and we were all talking about the toys that we played with as kid and how they were so much more physically active than the toys that kids play with today.  I was commenting on my Suzie Bake Oven and how it cooked food from the light bulb inside.  There are very few girls that did not have this type of toy so we starting talking about the cakes and pies that we made in these ovens.  He totally interrupts our conversation while I was talking saying the following," When I was a kid we did not have any toys. We just played with wire  hangers.  We twisted them into shapes of the figures that we wanted to play with, then made sure to put them back in the closet after we were done so that they could still be used with our clothes."  The whole room went quiet... Everyone was mumbling under their breath... "what does that have to do with the physicality of playing with toys rather than sitting in front of an Xbox?"  He after this very pregnant pause, he said that he had to walk 30 blocks in the snow as well to get to school. Clearly putting me down with his comment.  I just sat there and stared at him in totally disbelief.  He does this to me at home, but in front of other people?  This was a new low- and totally off topic--as usual.  One of the men then said, "I don't think that any of us are old enough to make that claim"..

Vindication for the first time in a very long time!  One of the women even said, " Did he do that because of all of the attention that you are getting because of the baby?  We can't help it, it is inside of you right now..." by the   way, I am having a Boy, so he won't be baking things in any toy ovens.  I guess I am now moving into the realm of people not inviting us places because of how much he disrupts the flow of conversation.   

My husband will often tell

My husband will often tell another person that a factual statement that the person has made is wrong.  OK, so this is valid, sometimes the other person IS wrong.  But the tone of voice my husband uses is very disrespectful, what I call the "I'm right, you're wrong, and I'm going to prove you wrong in 10 seconds after I look this up on my phone" tone of voice.  It really bothers me.   

what is.... 'conversation'?

To me, a conversation is where two people can each express themselves in order to be understood by the other. Also, it implies that each person is actually INTERESTED in the other. NOT in my husband's mind. For him, each conversation is an opportunity for him to present his views. That's it. No curiosity about the other person, no support, no questions, no real involvement. If the other person says something, it goes right over his head and he continues. Or God help the other person if they disagree. This sets up a volume of words, burying the other person completely and not giving any chance to defend.

Case in point: I had asked a mutual friend over for lunch while he was in town. Visitor sits to lunch, and is excited about a project he has with a certain company. This company happens to be one that my husband had some run-ins with, and he kind of burned his bridges in his dealings with them. Well, this scenario was the perfect set up for him to say every negative thing he could think of about the company, about the product, hell about every product made by man, about the state of the economy (all due to idiots unlike himself)... he went on and on and on and just would NOT STOP. No one could get a word in edgewise! Every word was negative and depressing and it made him look like such a loser.  I tried to get him to stop by gently agreeing with him and trying to change the topic but he was on to me and even loudly said that all I want to do is hide from the truth!!! I KNOW the truth, I just don't have to bombard one person with it for an entire hour. I don't think we will see this friend again. So sad. This happens all the time, every time we have friends over. I am so embarrassed sometimes!


OOf, I look back and think of how many friends and acquaintances I distanced myself from because my estranged ADHD spouse offended them and I dreaded trying to socialize with them again. Seriously--I didn't tell him about or go to the company Christmas party for years because it would just be too stressful. Your phrase is SO dead-on, and sad: the observation that a conversation is an "opportunity to express his views" is so right. I know that deep down my spouse did not start off as a mean or selfish person and that he did feel sympathy, at least in the beginning. But his sympathy or human compassion or concern for others were almost never connected to his behavior in the situation we were in. He bowled over a parent teacher conference once expounding on his theories of neuro-psychology (ironically) and didn't let the teacher say anything. The theories didn't relate to our child or anything she needed to tell us--they were part of a book he had been reading. She just sat there, stunned until we ran out of time (and hadn't talked about our child for more than two minutes). I put my hand on his arm a few times to try to gently stop him and he just continued, looking at me like, "Are you kidding? I am in the middle of saying something!" (The conference was for 20 minutes and he talked for 17. Really). It is hard for others to see something like that and not think, "What the?" Back when I used to try to talk or reason or argue with him, he would actually interrupt me repeatedly and say "I know what you are going to say already!" and then keep talking. I used to get so hurt. 

Phew. I know that there are many successful examples out there of couples making it together when ADHD is involved. But mine was not one :-) and I am so relieved at the thought of being able to have normal, give and take, two-sided conversations again...

Precisely. I know when his

Precisely. I know when his mind starts racing with the hyperactivity, I should know better than to head out anywhere with him. It is indeed painful, especially in public, when everything is a "NO" at every turn, and micro-managing all my movements. By then my self esteem is as low as it gets and I swear I behave like some kind of snarling captive (PTSD??). I dissolve into a tantrum-like fit of a 6 year old in public :"Stop treating me like that! I'm not a babyyyyyyy!!" *sob*.

And of course everyone turns to stare at the crazy lady who obviously is a spoiled princess having a spouse-zilla moment. Poor poor hubby what does he see in her?

I am not sure when it began (probably when I got desperate enough), but I started to ask him to explain himself as soon as he starts a response with the word "NO". It has been somewhat successful; I have not heard a "NO" as a sentence starter from dh in a while.

I had been countering his "NO" responses with an immediate question: "What do you mean, NO?" "What are you saying NO to, exactly?" It didn't register for a long time, and then perhaps dh was able to avoid my questions by omitting the word "NO" to me. It's more a conditioned response perhaps, because my son says his father still says "NO" in nearly every conversation he engages in with him. :(




Our experiences are so

Our experiences are so similar.... I feel for you re your sprained ankle....I can practically feel the same scenario unfold over here.

My dh took off the week off from work to ostensibly help me but I rarely saw him, only when I was getting disbursements of canned soup and pizza. He spent the whole week watching TV in another part of the house.

I am still new to the forum and learning how to follow replies, so bear with me...



Honestly, my husband will tell me that I am really good at taking care of him when he or the kids are sick.  He admits he sucks at it and I am quite good at it.  My ADHD Mom was also way better at it than my dad.  Actually, she was really wonderful.  I don't think he EVER did ANYTHING for me when I was ill.  Not even once.  I don't know that that is an ADHD thing.  Maybe a gender difference?  

I think the arguing thing can be PARTLY a processing difference (SOMETIMES).  I can see it more clearly when one of my ADHD students, my mother, or my son is doing it, but not always when I'm in the thick of it.  I'll have to think about how to explain it better.  Sometimes, it can be an impulsive response.  For me, I only respond this way to my husband, because there is an emotional component.  I know our limbic brain (emotional brain) is more active than the frontal lobe (executive functioning/logic), so that must play a part.  But the way we reason through something is very, very different.  It doesn't matter how smart we are.  



to ADHD Mom of 2

Wow, thank you for posting that, it took courage! I agree there could be a gender component in there, and I also think much of the behavior can be attributed to personality traits and bad habits.

But if we focus on ADHD -  Are you able to talk to your husband about how to make things better in your communication? What kinds of words or situations work best to make things smooth between you? When a situation gets out of hand, are you able to look back and see what went wrong? How do you process it and then learn from it? How does your husband deal with these issues? Would you say things are getting better between you over the years, and if so, how do you make it happen? Do you both work on it equally?

I would love to find methods that work, good solid advice - coming from a self-aware ADHD spouse, that would be the best!


Pbartender's picture


There's an old 1944 mystery film starring Ingrid Bergman called Gaslight.  In the film, "The plot concerns a husband who attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment, and insisting that she is mistaken or misremembering when she points out these changes."

In recent years, "gaslighting" has become a term to describe "a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and sanity. It may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim."

Recently, I've begun to wonder how much gaslighting -- either intentional or unintentional -- plays a part in ADHD relationships.  At first glance, there seems to be quite a lot of it.

I'm beginning to wonder whether or not I actually am as ADHD as my wife's complaints make me out to be.  Over the years, her complaints have certainly made me doubt my own memory, perception and reality.  That doubt is a large part of what induced me to go see a doctor...  But I'm realizing that a lot of my diagnosis wasn't based on my actual symptoms, but on her complaints.

A very recent example...  A conversation I had with DW just yesterday, verbatim:

Me: DS and I are going to head over to the grocery store to grab some donuts or something for breakfast.  We're also out of bread, so I was going to grab a couple loves while we were out.

DW: Oh, thanks...  I'm going to go grocery shopping later before I go to work, but if you get some bread then I won't have to.

Me: Great!  We'll be back in a bit.

[Later, when DS and I get back, as I unpack stuff in the kitchen...]

Me: We're back!  We got a couple of kringles, if you're hungry, and I picked up two loaves of bread.

DW:  Okay, thanks.

[Later-later, after DD and DW get back from grocery shopping, and they're packing stuff away...]

DW: Hey!  We weren't out of bread!  There was a loaf in the freezer!

Me: (!?!) That's the one I bought this morning...  There's another set out in the fridge.

DW: Oh, I wish you'd told me...  Had I known, I wouldn't have bought four loaves.

Me: (!?!?!)

From my point of view, there are times when it feels like she forgets about conversations we've had or invents conversations that never took place.  It's always been blamed on my absent-mindedness, and I had always accepted that blame.  But even accepting that blame, there have also been times when I was DEAD CERTAIN I was right, and there were witnesses to back me up (DS, in this case).

Nons, I know a lot of you guys have probably had similar experiences...  How do you know whose perception of reality is real?  How can you tell if it's actual forgetfulness, or an intentional lie to covering up some other mistake and manipulate the blame onto someone else?  Could it be that I'm NOT as inattentive and forgetful as I've been led to believe?

Some days, I feel like I'm going insane.



(EDIT: I'm definitely not looking for an excuse to stop treatment.  I am ADHD, at least a little, and even without that I was suffering from some related depression and anxiety that needed to be taken care of anyway... Counseling and these message boards have with that a LOT.  I just need some help figuring out what's what, here.  I need to know that I'm not completely nuts.)

You are not alone PB

I have recognized that DH has been gas-lighting me for years.  It is crazy-making.  Because you want to trust that you and your teammate are working together.  DH also has a way of talking in a grounded statement sort of way rather than a "let's work together" tone.  When he says something, he talks with conviction even though he doesn't know what he is talking about.  He often will say two sentences after each other which contradict themselves.  Then, when asked to clarify, will accuse me of hearing him wrong and NOT LISTENING correctly.  All in a very pointed, factual manner.  He/she who cares the least WINS in his world.  I am trying to figure out what I am afraid of.  I believe it is like the Bergman character, she does not trust her own self anymore after years of conditioning by the unreasonableness of her husband. Whether it was intentional or not, the manipulating of the truth has had a VERY detrimental effect on us all.  My DH has hampered his family's sanity and has lost their respect so that he could WIN the arguments and enjoy his ego games.

Pb, I am familiar with the

Pb, I am familiar with the film Gaslighting. When I first watched it, I immediately thought back to a former relationship. The ex partner did not have add or adhd, but there is no doubt in my mind he was/is a psychopath. The spouse in that film is a psychopath as well as a narcissist.

 It is interesting to note that I was raised (just barely) by a narcissist, then fell into a relationship w a psychopath. These people have a way of manipulating you and others into falling in love with them, and once you are in their clutches (being that you are now the source of where they get there energy from), they start sucking the life force out of you for their own strength. The more they keep you on edge of insanity, the stronger their own sense of self becomes. I truly feel that all marriages which suffer abuse there is a partner with a borderline or outright psychopathy. These people know full well what they are doing... They gaslight when no ones watching, behind closed doors. They will not exhibit themselves like that when people are around, or if there is a tape recorder or video camera around. They are that clever.

The affected spouse starts to believe they are the one with a 'disorder'. 

I do not know enough about your own spouse, Pbartender, but just going from the above conversation you posted, my first reaction is that your spouse is simply not listening to anything you say and answering absentminded. but later, she follows up with putting you "in the wrong" when she herself makes the mistake. So rather than admitting she forgot what you said, she gives you a bit of that narcissistic borderline treatment to get control, rather than admitting she wasn't listening.

would you consider that your spouse exhibits symptoms of distraction as well?