Help! Am I being Emotionally/psychologically abused???

I am not quite sure, but I am wondering if my non ADHD husband has become slowly but surely more and more emotionally & psychologically abusive with me over the years. Although I understand we can all be prone to behaving abusively at times......I am starting to realize there has been a enduring pattern develop ......I am really confused about this because the main focus of all our relationship and life problems are my ADHD in his eyes..and because I have felt so bad about this I have taken this on, but nothing I do seems to make him happy.....I can describe in more detail but I just wanted to check if anybody else has experienced or wondered about this in their relationship.

I'm loath to use the term

I'm loath to use the term "abusive" but I think it's certainly possible that your husband is engaging in behaviors and saying things that you find painful and demeaning.  My husband, who has ADHD, probably thinks that I've been psychologically abusive to him.  I don't think that I have been, but I have expressed anger (which he finds very hard to deal with) and he might equate that with psychological abuse.  

It's very common in relationships in which one partner has ADHD for there to be a cycle:  partner does or doesn't do something because of ADHD; other partner expresses negative response; first partner continues to do or not do something because of ADHD; other partner gets increasingly upset; first partner still engages in behavior; other partner doesn't know whether to get louder or to leave; and so on.  It's messy.

I completely agree with Rose.

  • I completely agree with Rose. My adhd husband most likely thinks I'm psychologically abusive. I barely raise my voice or show anger, but he thinks I'm an evil witch. 

has this become emotional/psycholiogical abuse

Thanks Rose and Lauren, yes I have very much come to understand how frustrating it can be living with someone with ADHD....and certainly relate to the dynamic you have both described. I have been learning to take responsibility for and to manage my ADHD for some years now and to also support my daughter with hers and things have overall improved in that department. However, its never perfect and we do better at some times than at others. When there are extra pressures and stressed it can become a lot more difficult. 

Unfortunately, what I am now experiencing goes consistently way beyond what you have both described. I am not perfect by any means, but it has got to a point that it is unbearable ...he broods for ages and always tells me he is fine when I ask until he explodes, sometimes cornering me in the kitchen with a tirade of abuse (he is a very big and loud man) that has me speechless and cowering in absolute terror & confusion and has my daughter in tears of distress, standing at the door yelling at him to stop. And then I tell him Im sorry but I don't know what for. I rarely can speak up for myself as no matter how reasonable I try to be in my communication he either dismisses it, tells me Im wrong, lying or shouldn't feel that way, or worse turns it back on me. If I try to express my anger at his way of being with me he tells me Im being vindictive and that my perception of him is grossly misguided which just goes to show how fucked up I am. I try to stay calm but if he goes on and on at me, I become so distressed and overwhelmed and confused that there are times I scream back at him and say something ai shouldnt, which only reinforces his view of me. I confess to even sometimes becoming so distressed that I have banged my head against the wall (never ever in front of our daughter). I know I should just walk away at times and we both should but I have tried to ask that we make rules about fighting but he refuses. He rubbishes and takes offence at my attempts to try to work out any rules, plans or structures (that I know my daughter & I need) saying we should just know how to do this stuff. Friends have started telling me they have not liked the way he has been speaking to and treating me for quite some time now, recently a young friend of our daughters whom we have know for years and has come camping with our family a number of times told her mum that she didn't want to go camping with us again because she was was very distressed at how he was speaking to and treating me (& at rimes our daughter) the whole 9 days we were away, how constantly angry he seemed the whole time (mostly but not only at me), & how very tense it was. her mum, my friend, who knows about & understands my ADHD and my daughters AdHD and has educated herself about it (as has her daughter which has been great for her friendship with my daughter), cautiously told me this a couple of weeks ago. And she has a number of times said to me that she feels that my husband is pinning too much blame onto me and my ADHD & that I have been taking it on and on and excusing him far more than is necessary. He has not educated himself at all about our ADHD but at same time now seems to use it to pin his frustrations and unhappinesses onto me. I understand that the history leading up to my diagnosis set a dynamic in place that of course takes time to unravel & shift, & I understand that it would take time for him to forgive and to regain trust in me, but unfortunately because he does not have & refuses to seek out an adequate understanding of our ADHD (although he full well understands what its like to live around people with ADHD as he keeps snapping at me whenever I try to ask he find out a bit more info about what it is like for my daughter & I), it is going from bad to worse in our dynamic. He does not seem to consider that even with the ADHD certainly being an added difficulty in the relationship that it still nevertheless takes 2 to tango not just in terms of the development of problematic dynamics but in terms of working together to better understand (rather than continue to misinterpret) each others differences & collaboratively work on ways to improve mutually understanding, communication & support. He is basically a good guy and I feel very bad for him but I think it has gone way to far the other way...he does not seem to have any insight into himself let alone have the willingness to reflect upon his own part in things. i do not feel that he is just angry at me from time to time, or even quite often, but that he has progressively become more constantly angry, contemptuous and hateful towards me no matter what I do. I have said to him that he doesnt like me and can not come to terms with my & my daughters different needs, he shouldn't stay with me out of sense of obligation, that if he is not happy he should go. I am not willing to take all the blame any more. I notice when he is away for work etc that everything feels much calmer and relaxed at home and that my daughter and I are able to manage our ADHD much more effectively. reading back over this I am a bit horrified and feel instantly ashamed and that I want to say he has not gotten that bad and that perhaps I am oversensitive, and that perhaps my perceptions are inaccurate, and that perhaps he has every right to feel and behave this way because It is the only way he can get it through my thick skull how irresponsible, shelfish, unreliable, dishonest and uncaring I apparently am. But it is not working at all and it is only making things worse and worse, Im really sorry if this seems like one big long huge justification for my ADHD behaviour but really I am feeling so utterly utterly hopeless & in despair .....and I think it is not going to work between us, is not good for our daughter & certainly not conducive to the best management of our ADHD....I think our relationship is beyond hope and I do take some of the responsibility for that but I will not and cannot take all of it.....I am exhausted beyond belief, and just so fedup with being in the same house as someone who cant bear the sight of me.



Except for the angry

Except for the angry outburst, terror, and name-calling, I believe my husband knows how you feel to a point. I started hating the sight of him and always trying to be in a separate room from him. He finally told me to just go back home. If you are this bad off with no end in sight, perhaps you SHOULD separate for awhile. Both of you work on your issues from afar. 

Good luck!

Hi Lauren, yes I think you

Hi Lauren, yes I think you are right. I know you are right. i think it impossible to sort ourselves and the relationship out under these circumstances. Perhaps time apart will allow us to both recuperate, and get better perspective. I dont hold out much hope though...I think he gave up a long time ago.....and we have been through too much ADHD diagnosis came a few years after Id been through aggressive prolonged cancer treatment for advanced breast cancer when our daughter was 3, which also caused financial and housing difficulties, premature and severe menopause meaning no more kids and completely stuffed up sexual functioning, my struggling to get back into the workforce after a few years unable to work, my mum then rapidly deteriorating with Parkinsons & related dementia, dying a horrible prolonged death in hospital for weeks last year and now my dad (always a difficult character) sliding into dementia and driving everyone crazy (Im his gaurdian) and the depression and anxiety I sometimes struggle with has gotten a lot worse over these last couple of years with all that going on (Im in midst of getting reassessed etc). i have felt pretty overwhelmed by it all and so has he. I just think our relationship has been though too much and there has been too little time and space to recuperate. I feel like we are beyond help but perhaps a break and then reassess - cant go on like this that's for sure. Oh well. Thanks Lauren

take care of yourself and your daughter


I am so sorry you are going through this. If I am out of line, then please forgive me but: I think you need to stop worrying about him right now, and whether or not you deserve this or he is basically a good guy, and focus on the fact that he is mistreating you, that other people see it too, that you are not crazy, and that it is affecting your daughter as well as you. You must stop worrying about why he is mad or trying to repeat these patterns of getting him to "see" or realize what is going on. He is not in that place right now. Maybe he and you will be at some point, but for the moment, you are being mistreated, and it is not ok. 

I experienced similar with my STBX. Your words raise several concerns: "sometimes cornering me in the kitchen with a tirade of abuse (he is a very big and loud man) that has me speechless and cowering in absolute terror." Mine was a master at turning everything onto me: it can really do a number on you and make you question your sanity. Think about this: he is saying that you deserve this or that something is wrong with you and you are "provoking" him. This is what abusive people do--they blame the victim.

You (and he) know that his behavior is indeed a form of abuse and it is not ok. Of course it isn't! He is using his size and anger to try to control and intimidate you. Of course you are experiencing depression and anxiety. My own therapist told me I had PTSD from similar scenarios over the years. It may sound completely overwhelming and impossible to do, but you need to look out for yourself and your young daughter. It sounds hard to separate, but  believe me, it is no harder than living in a situation that has gotten out of hand like this. Once your head clears, you will know the right thing to do, but living constantly with this kind of stress is terrible. And I say this gently, because I lived this way for a long time and I am a mother and I had to do this myself: this kind of situation can truly scar your daughter and if it doesn't stop, you need to protect her, right? 

You have so much on your plate! I can't imagine the stress you must be under. At the very least, could you wait until there is a calm moment and tell your spouse that you cannot live with this kind of behavior between the two of you? I know it is hard to think or plan or address things when you are so tired and emotionally drained. Can you get advice from a therapist or counselor? And have a backup--a bag packed, a place to go, a plan--in case you need to leave? And can you talk to your spouse in a calm moment? (I gave mine one last chance in a calm moment and he refused, so I felt ok about leaving). 

Best to you and your daughter. I am sending you good thoughts. 

Oh Lynn, you are not out of

Oh Lynn, you are not out of line...I am after asking for a reality check on this forum in an attempt to unravel the impact of my ADHD, the dynamic that has developed as a result of this (but does not seem to be reversible, only getting worse) & something further that is developing beyond all this that alarms and worries me (& others around us). I think I am indeed being mistreated, he no doubt would say the same of me. I do not think he would ever be physically violent and I do not think under different circumstances things would have come to this. Ive worked with domestic violence in the past & I do know that sometimes it is circumstantial (not that this excuses it) & sometimes it is imbedded in the very fabric of the abusers world view (I ma pretty sure in this case it is circumstantial). I've been refreshing my memory reading up on the dynamics of emotional abuse and have to say a lot of what is happening fits the bill but not all of it (so I excuse it) but ai think it is progressing. Ive also been refreshing my memory on Gottman (expert on relationships) research about the 4 Horseman of the Apocolypse (metaphor for the 4 signs a marriage is doomed) and my husbands behaviour fits the bill to a tee and has done for some time - especially with something called stonewalling & with his contemptuousness. I agree i think it is time to make a change for my own sake & for my daughters sake especially. I think & hope in time he can return to his old self and that we can be good coparents together but only time will tell. I'm just so very sad that things have come to this & cannot help feeling angry about the fact that throughout all our struggles the lack of community support has been abysmal - something I have been very aware about in my previous work with disadvantaged women & families who given the right conditions could flourish and thrive but who actually break apart & go under struggling to survive and overcomes challenges with little community support or understanding. I do feel for my husband but you are right what has developed between us is not OK his behaviour is not OK (& to be frank sometimes mine is not either) so it is time to bight the bullet. I am getting professional help & support and am carefully working my way to making decisions accordingly. I guess that is also partly why I asked for feedback on this forum. I feel abit clearer and more hopeful, although deeply deeply sad, thanks all. x



hormonal impact on ADHD

It was the total hysterectomy (including ovaries) at age 47 that pushed me over the edge and led to my diagnosis (I began reading about Adult ADHD in 2004) and it was a light going off. The immediate drop in estrogen felt like hitting a wall going 70 miles and hour.  Inadequate hormone replacement and no ADHD medication made me believe I was suffering early dementia.  It was a challenge to find any professionals in my geographical area, and fitting my insurance plan, to help confirm a diagnosis, then prescribe medication and ways to to deal with it.  Life went on like that for several years, at the same time I suspected my young son.inherited the trait.  It is very difficult to advocate for yourself, and another person, when the disorder impacts your mental process - throw in a spouse - who wants you to get "fixed" but offers no help, only criticism and has serious issues of his own..........well that is my ADHD brain going off on a tangent - the reason I write this is that the role of estrogen, androgen and hormonal balance in severity of ADHD problems really needs more focus.  Pre-hysterectomy, I dealt with severe PMS - and now I see how ADHD contributed to the syndrome greatly.

Hi there... chiming in a little late on this...

Hi there,

I just wanted to say that I have a similar dynamic in my home. I am the ADHD-spouse and my husband is the non...

My husband and I have always fought a lot. I always thought it was all my fault before my diagnosis and treatment because I am emotional and intense. I now see that my husband would pick fights with me and then when I reacted (overreacted) the blame was assigned to me. Whatever he did would pale in comparison to my ultimately large reaction, so his behaviour was just whitewashed. Now that I am medicated and in therapy- I haven't been reacting or overreacting and my husband seems to have escalated his attempts to get me to engage (clinging to the old pattern)... It has become very clear to me that my husband is verbally abusive... probably always was- but I couldn't tell because my head was so cloudy...

After the birth of my daughter 6 months ago- my husband cracked. In the hospital I asked if he could stay one night with me and the baby (I had complications and was there for 5 days). He told me that I was being needy and that all through my pregnancy I had been a big bitch and everyone was 'dealing' with me and that he wasn't happy and we needed to think seriously about our future. He basically was threatening divorce. This is with our new baby in the NICU and me in the hospital having serious medical complications... I took him seriously and brought it up to him the next day, where he said he was just tired and didn't mean it and loved me and the kids and our family... then he designs me a $3000 piece of jewellry to commemorate our daughter's birth. Jekyll and Hide. Not sure I can forgive that one. Then a month later in December when I wouldn't agree with him on some hypothetical point he started screaming at me that I just like to fight and be difficult and that I'm just trying to piss him off. This was not true at all.  Then he starts trying to cross-examine me into agreeing with him. I said to him- "we aren't going to agree on this. Let's just drop it."  By the way- the point of disagreement was about whether we should try to salvage any of our new bathroom fixtures from our bathroom in the event we ever did a teardown rebuild (we don't even have money to do that- so this was speculative). He was saying that trying to salvage anything was useless and we shouldn't bother. I was saying that we should ask the contractor what they thought and save anything that  was practical/ cost-effective to save... Not sure how that position can be WRONG. He just couldn't accept it.  And he just wouldn't drop it.  When I finally got quite dismissive about the topic (after 20 minutes of him trying to browbeat me into agreeing with him and admitting that I just like to be difficult and argue), he totally lost it on me and told me that I am seriously fucked up and that he didn't 'give a fuck about' me and 'get the fuck away' from him... He stormed outside and was screaming and swearing at me in the driveway right n front of our house...  It was bewildering for me because I literally had not done anything, not even raised my voice.   He frequently does that- tried to bully me into sharing an opinion and belittling me when I don't agree... Then he pushed me about a month later- in front of our 4-year old because he wanted me to get out of the room and I was still talking to him...  He's called me a bitch in front of the kids. He's called me selfish and lazy (because I wouldn't return a dress I bought and had decided to return that second. 

 I will not accept that behaviour. Some of the nons reading this might be filling in blaks and thinking my husband was driven to this after years of me being unreliable or argumentative or whatever. But that's not my situation, I definitely have some annoying behaviours- forgetting, repeating myself, interrupting. But I am also incredibly responsible- I work full time as a lawyer (when not on maternity leave), do all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, everything, and almost all the childcare... but my husband will follow me around wagging a finger at me about how I've cut a banana or if the thermostat is turned a degree higher than he wants it (despite the fact that I am the one in the home during the day) or if I bought a loaf of bread too many (he doesn't like to put bread in the freezer- says it gets freezer burn).

Getting treatment has opened my eyes to what I was tolerating... I have told my husband that if he starts to treat me badly- I am walking away... I used to engage all the time- now I don't... For me- that is a bad sign... but gradually my husband is getting his own behaviour in check. 

My therapist says that many women with ADHD inadvertently pick an anal, picky partner and that it can become abusive- so you are not alone in that dynamic. Hang in there. And do your best to manage your own symptoms and walk aaway... I know that's hard when he is following you around and saying hurtful things. My husband does that too... but with practice- not engaging is easy... For me- it's all about my kids and I will not put them through that. If my husband can't stop this- I will be leaving him. But I'll give him a chance to change... that's where we are now.

Hugs to you!



Chiming in

Hi There Smiling again,

thanks for your response....yes I do think things have got out of hand. He has left now which is a relief (probably for both of us). although I think his way of treating me got out of hand, I can still see how it has come to this as largely a result of the symptom-response-response dynmaic that we were caught up in way before I was diagnosed and we could start to develop and understanding of what was going on. Sadly by then, I think it was too late as the timing of many other stressors in our life just compounded the problem and we had no time and (emotional, mental space) to start to try to address things. This is what I find most sad and unfair for both of us...because it may have been possible to pull ourselves out of the downward spiral otherwise. I don't think he is inherently abusive man at all (not that makes how things got OK) - I just things got so out of hand & he was so hurt and hopeful that once we have recuperated a bit we will be able to communicate more easily and work out things with our daughter in her best interest. We are going to review things at end of the year....but I don't feel there is much hope for us unless we both commit to working hard on doing things differently, repairing our wounds with expert help and guidance...Frankly I don't know if either of us have the energy left anymore....but things could shift in the next few months I guess....

whatever the outcome between us, I think we will do OK as co parents. and if I ever get i to a relationship again (Ill be 54 soon?!?!), at least aive learnt some lessons about my ADHD that I will need to put on the table with any potential partner....

Sad but OK


From bad to worse...this will take some getting through

Just thought Id update on my situation. Im not even sure it is appropriate for this forum any more but perhaps it is....

Im not sure how to start and how to keep this a simple as possible......ummmmm........this might be hard for some to get there heads around as it has been for me.....Im am seeing a therapist, have support of a few close friends who "get it" and a specialised online support group (similar in format to this one but with very rigorous screening process - for very good reasons) which have all been godsends.

Im a bit cautious because not many people understand this stuff although as Ive learnt more about it, it makes absolute perfect sense of so much about my relationship. The issue of my ADHD is not entirely irrelevant but really it seems it was just one of many things that my ex used against me in very insidious, cruel and seriously emotionally & mentally abusive ways for years. Towards the end of our relationship (he left the house in May) I was in such a progressively dreadful state of depression, anxiety, confusion, suicidality (NOT like me!) diminishing self confidence and loss of hope in life, the Carer Support Counsellor I started seeing about dealing with my aging dad who is sliding into dementia, was seriously concerned. When my husband left the house it was such a relief and, although I still have a way to go because this has been going on progressively for years, much of this lifted for the first time in many years (OK I know that naturally when people separate if the relationship has been really tense for a while it will be a relief initially but this goes way beyond that). My mind started clearing and I started getting a bit more perspective on things for first time in ages, realising that the extent of the initially very covert emotional & mental abuse I had started becoming aware of in the last few years had in fact been progressively going on for many of our 15 years together (at the very least about 10 years since I started getting back on my feet after aggressive treatment for advance breast cancer & from all the repercussions that came with this). I also had suspicions of some sort of affair since middle of last year but he had vehemently & self righteously denied this even though Id accidentally stumbled across a text of his to a female "friend" that was suspicious and said some extremely hurtful things about me. 

Since he left without any clear explanation except that it was all my fault, no interest to discuss things, no apology for his treatment of me leading up to this, no acknowledgement of his own part in our difficulties (yet again), no empathy or compassion at all (as it has been for years I realise) I discovered they he in fact was having an very intense sexualised online obsessive affair with a woman he met in US in March. I knew all the signs and asked him and again he had denied it and a whole lot of other a most vehement dismissive way, incensed I would ever even think such things of him and self righteously & contemptuously spitting at me that this just proves how vindictive and crazy I am which is one of the many many reasons he cant bear to be with me anymore! So...bugger him...I got into his emails and ...lo and behold I found all these obsessive emails back and forth to a different woman (he obviously backed off with the other one after Id confronted him about it last year - but Im not sure the other one was reciprocating to his advances anyway) sharing photos, video chats, sending her expensive jewelry, madly in love with each other, cant wait to get hands on each other dripping with sex emails....I was utterly shocked by the this but even more shocked to discover the things he had been saying to her about me, but also to his 1 and only friend (a rather odd dysfunctional fellow himself). What I read made it clear that he has hated me for at least the last 9 years and has been lying (I had caught him out at times in the past but he always had some pathetic excuse that zi fell for and felt sorry for him about!! DUH!!) & cheating and backstabbing me throughout all this time. I was so utterly shocked at what I read...the ways he described and talked about me were absolutely traumatic to read and the depth of his hatred and contempt went way beyond what I could ever imagine or had even sensed especially over the past couple of years wehn things really started getting bad after my mum died her horrible death after a miserable struggle with Parkinsons!!  I had a couple of friends who had said they felt he treated me very badly and that he was in fact emotionally abusing me but I had always made excuses for him because ai felt guilty for what we have been through which he had i realise been reinforcing and using against me. I had many times tried to sufgest we needed therapy but he would always say he didnt need it I did and he didnt see any hope Id change as I was too f***** up. So I would ask "If that is the case why do you stay?" & he would reply with because I love you madly you just drive me crazy sometimes and then continue to treat me badly which eas very confusing and crazy making. I realise he turned and twisted everything back against me, and nothing I could do was good enough or would make him happy - I knew that he must have some inner demons and unhappiness that I couldnt help him with and thar he needed to address this but he always denied this (only to continue acting it all out against me as I realise).

When I read these emails it was like I had been spiritually emotionally psychologically disembowelled and the past 15 years (9 in particular) flashed before my eyes much as I imagine they would just before death!! in a flash I realised the last so many years had been a lie and I cannot begin to tell you how traumatic this was! I confronted him about it in an email and he didnt give a damn, he turned it all back on me, blaming me, asking what did I expect and telling me that he owed me no explanation and certainly no apologies and in future he will not read any further vindictive emails from me etc. No acknowledgement whatsover of the hurt he had caused, his mistreatment, betrayal, no compassion or empathy whatsover, obviously feeling completely justified for his behaviour over the years because of being a victim of me!!

Honestly, I have never ever in all my years experienced anything like this! I cannot described how bewildered and disorientated I felt! For days I could not get behind the wheel of a car or get out of the house without feeling totally lost and disoriented, not knowing where I was trying to go or why. Fortunately I had a couple of good friends who helped put me back together. I was so bewildered I had already been researching info about emotional abuse (which had made sense) but after this I renewed my efforts and found myself being pointed in the direction to looking at links about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and most particularly a more covert variety of this. I was not expecting this and almost dismissed it but decided to read the info anyway only to shockingly discover that the descriptions fit my ex like a glove and that the descriptions I also found about the impact of NPD in relationships and upon the spouse absolutely fit like a glove also!!! I was so shocked and disbelieving but at the same time all the pieces of the confusing jumble of a puzzle I had been grappling with for some years just fell into place one after the other - click click click - and I realised this just made so much sense!!!! What was really important too was that there were warnings & advice about how to deal with people like this because the usual rules dont apply & also explanation & advice about how Ive been impacted (the emotional damage) & what I will need to do in order to recover from all this. Im not happy about this and so angry at him (and at myself) and I really feel quite traumatised (& realise I probably have been for a while). But the therapist Ive found and the support group Ive found for people like myself have been my lifesavers (as well as a tiny handful of close and sensible friends who absolutely get it and are shocked but not particularily surprised by what Ive discovered). 

Fortunately, as he has so much invested in appearing to be a nice guy and a wonderful dad, I am able to lean into this in order to get him on board with a written parenting plan and clear agreements about how we share the care of our daughter in a "cooperative, respectful, business like" way. So as long as we stick to this and dont contact or communicate about anything else and I dont take the bait when he tries to dangle his little barbed hooks in front of me......eventually it will get easier. But it will take some time to get over this.....

By the way, my ADHD symptoms (which were way out of control for quite some time) have settled significantly, and everything in life is much easier to manage (as long as I dont get hooked into his tricks)! I realise now that he was undermining me in everyway & using all my weaknesses and vulnerabilities against me for years and that this was largely why my AdHd , depression, anxiety etc etc where getting out of control and impossible for me to do much about until now. Although Im very sad and have a way to go I have a sense of hope for the future for the first time in ages.

very strange story I know....but if it helps anybody then that is a plus. I do not deny that ADHD is hard to live with and I understand about the relationship dynamics that occur but my husband was NEVER interested to learn about and understand this (or anything!) and work with me to try and sort anything out. He was however VERY happy to blame me, my ADHD, everything & nothing for everything that was wrong in our relationship and took no responsibility for his part in any of it. In the end he almost had me convinced (brainwashed) that I was to blame for it all, was seriously going crazy, was no good to anybody - to the point I was regularly feeling so hopeless and helpless that I was contemplating suicide and that everybody - including our daughter - would be better off without me!!! Thank god I talked to friends, counsellors and could never think up a food enough plan that wouldnt totally devastate my daughter!!! And thank god he is gone!! 

So....there you go...onwards & upwards! :) 




carathrace's picture

thank god he is gone

Amen to that, sister!  I am so sorry for what you've gone through.  What a blessing in disguise that you found those emails -- what seemed to be all pain at the time was the thing you needed to see the truth.  I'm so glad you've found good help and I wish you a joyful and free life.

Amen to that, sister!

Thank you so much for your response carathrase! Yes the pain of finding out the truth was worth it....the alternative may have been that I spend the rest of my days believing his brainwashing and never having a chance to fully heal from the impact he has had on me! It will take some time to undo and grieve the damage done but I feel that I am certainly on the right track. My psychiatrist who is an expert on adult ADHD has told me that unfortunately people like myself turn up in the rooms of psychiatrists and psychologists far more that anybody would prefer, usually having no idea what is wrong with themself or why they are in such a dreadful psychological state, no idea that they are suffering at the hands of a partner with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or sometimes even Psychopathic/Sociopathic Personality Disorder (they share similar features) who often can come across as very very normal nice people -  he has been very supportive. All I can say to anybody on this blog is that if you have a partner that blames & criticizes you for everything, that nothing you do or are is ever good enough for, consistently lies (or you suspect of lying), wont go to therapy with you, seems to not take responsibility for their part in any of the relationship difficulties, seems to have little insight into themselves, has very fixed negative ideas about you and the rest of the human race, seems to have no empathy, remorse or compassion, gets easily offended by the slight criticism or slight (real or imagined) you might want to look at information about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (either overt or covert) and Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. I hope none of you find yourself in the same situation as I found has been one of the most soul destroying experiences of my life...but i do see hope for the future, and feel I will come though this wiser about the human condition and about myself....



follow up

Did things continue to get better?

Yes, it is emotional abuse

True narcissists are predators and ADHD women with self-esteem issues seem to be a natural target.  The pain and suffering inflicted on me by my ex-spouse of nearly 23 years pales to any challenges that I've confronted from ADHD.  I felt like I emerged from a walking coma, only to face a long rehabilitation from the damage to my heart and soul. when he left three years ago, destroying me financially and alienating my son from me.  He has since remarried (another victim) who believes the stories about his psycho ex-wife. Unfortunately, he still enjoys harassing me and I limit my communication with him to short e-mails and no phone calls.  I wish I could say I am not still struggling, but I am, and that's what brought me to this page tonight.  


I disagree

My wife has a raging case of ADHD. This causes her to see things in the worse possible light at times (when her stimulation level is low). Not only that,these are the only thing she remembers over time. This is the low self esteem component. All of these attributes of this work together to make up  completely self defeating disorder. My wife would describe me in the worse possible light behind my back. She alienated me from my own family for a time. In light of all the lying, arguing, retreating, defensiveness and labile behaviors to then be subjected to your family thinking you are being abusive to your "sweet innocent" wife finally cause me to ask her to leave, Add my 8 year old son into the equation and it is very difficult to explain this disorder and how it can make you feel abusive. Certainly the temptation was there.

This was before she was diagnosed with ADHD. For the following 2 years I had you keep trying to force her to accept that it was the underlying problem in our marriage because she would keep changing her tune.I have learned to better control my temper but it has been with great effort. This thing is a one step forward and one step back process. Once you realize that your spouse is not capable of meeting you halfway then you can work on the problem. Anger is part of that.

What is the really going on?

I appreciate your frustration of trying to make a difficult marriage work and how crazy it is to deal with unreasonable behavior.  If you were trying to force your wife to see that ADHD was the underlying problem in your marriage since her diagnosis, I would suggest it doesn't seem to be the cause  in what you've shared.  Lying and bad-mouthing your spouse are not hallmark behaviors associated with the disorder ((by the way ADHD is a brain wiring, neurological disorder, not a "case of something". (If you read Ms. Orlov's and Dr. Hallowell's blog and tremendous amount of resource material that can be accessed on this site, you'll understand why they don't fit.)  

From how you describe your wife's crazy-making, anger provoking behavior - I think, your wife sounds like someone with a personality disorder -- ( I'm not a professional, but you might check out NPD to see if anything rings true for your experience with her. Or maybe she's immature, unwilling to take responsibility and that's why strangers like me shouldn't label, right?!)   However, while married, I more than took responsibility for the stress ADHD played in my marriage - wanted to manage it and hoped my husband would be the kind, loving man I knew he could be if he didn't have to deal with my issues.  Guess what.  Some times things can be mutually exclusive.  I could have ADHD and be a good person.  He could be a lousy guy and worse -( yes - his childhood, etc. etc. may have contributed or whatever excuses I'd find- but the problem - - in his mind, he's PERFECT!.  I just needed to be fixed.  But it wasn't the ADHD that broke us up.  I no longer was useful in his world.

 The divorce itself and what he's capable of has been horrific, but I have a fighting chance now, because I'm not being abused and undermined by someone untrustworthy.  Whatever your wife's problem stems from, it doesn't sound like you need to be trying to deal with unreasonable behavior.  I do believe if spouses can work together, as Ms. Orlov's approach is an excellent model, marriages can not only be saved but improved.  The chapter on empathy and appreciating what it's like to live with someone with  poorly managed ADHD gave me even greater insight and sympathy, and motivation to want to tackle it to save my marriage and family.  I can't know what causes your wife's behavior but wrong is wrong, and you should not have to be understanding of what is at best manipulative, if not deliberate, treatment.  Good luck with finding some resolution with what I know is a very complicated relationship and issues.  I hope you find a more positive direction for yourself and son.

It isn't lying and bad

It isn't lying and bad mouthing in her eyes. Not at least until she is confronted with the behavior and takes time to examine it. I don't deny that I had alot of anger. That is the normal response to this pattern of behavior according to Mrs Orlov. As far as your taking exception to the "raging case" comment, this is a spectrum disorder and my  wife checks out on the far end of it.

Angry people can be seen as abusive when the context of the anger is not understood. My wife would tell you that she more than took responsibility too. That is subject to debate.To her taking responsibility involves admitting what she did and then immediately expect me to forgive and forget. That may not be reasonable depending on the magnitude of the issue. As far as ADHD being mutually exclusive to marital issues sometimes, I'm sure it can be. Just not in the case of most people on this website.


It seems likely that most people on this website would be here looking for solutions to problems, rather than those happily coexisting.   In fact, I don't visit it now that my marriage ended, but signed up to receive notices of new comments.  I do know one point that Dr. Hallowell makes in regards to having ADHD and a happy marriage is to marry the right person. He backs his advice with personal experience, noting his second marriage supports it.  I always wondered, if I wanted my marriage to work, how could I make my existing marriage work.  In my heart, I always knew I hadn't married the right man, but was so invested in the idea of marriage and keeping my family together, I thought I could control the outcome.  I don't know if I'll get another chance to prove his point about finding the right spouse.   I believe Ms. Orlov's personal experience is as the non-ADHD spouse (as you are)  an encouraging story, For one, she doesn't project herself as the calm, perfect, never angry spouse.   But it takes both sides to understand what they're individually contributing,not blaming the other and that's what her and her husband were able to discover together.  Taking responsibility for one's own contribution - though not easy - is possible. Some people aren't able to be objective about their own behavior and I know my ex-spouse really believes his own lies.   When reading people's stories in forums, I try to take what I can, but I just don't think people's experience can be over generalized. I do know I see things much differently since I am no longer in my marriage - but I do know it couldn't be saved.  

*******HAVING said all that - My story followed a similar story line as Katetd - and there is no doubt what so ever, that I too married a "nice guy" with a narcissistic personality disorder - it is severe - and is more accurately described as a character disorder.  

As far as being at the far end of the spectrum of severe ADHD - that is a discussion for the professionals - but I think other factors enter into her behavior.  I personally don't think you can be a little ADHD or severely ADHD.  Mine is aggravated by anxiety and depression.