His Anger, my ADHD, and twin toddlers...help!

Don't know where to begin, but need to get my feelings out before I implode. My husband and I have been married for 6 years, together for 8. I had ADHD as a child (back when we all just assumed that we outgrew it), then was diagnosed again when I was 25, a year into our relationship. At the beginning of our marriage he took on the role as care taker basically...he payed all the bills (to keep them from being late or trashed), he cooked (to keep from the house burning down), he did most of the cleaning (clearly my version of wiping AROUND the lamp and alarm clock were not good enough), he did all the research (to keep me from impulsively buying a car because it was shiny and I was bored with car shopping), etc. I guess I never realized how much he took on, in addition to my adorable quirks of forgetting to turn off the oven, forgetting to lock the door, not being careful and spilling peach crystal light on our new carpets, leaving my car keys in the freezer (as I write this I realize what a joy I must be to live with). To make matters worse, whenever I did something wrong or forget to do simple things, like wipe down the counters after making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and he pointed it out to me, I would get defensive and we would fight. But still we were happy. After 3 years of marriage, we tried to get pregnant and had trouble, so I became an overly sensitive ADHD woman injected with all sorts or hormones, off adderall, and dealing with disappointment month after month. Don't I sound like a catch. He was wonderful throughout that whole ordeal, and most men would have ran, but he loves me. Now we have 2 beautiful girls who are almost 2 and bring us nothing but joy...okay that's a lie, with the joy also comes a lot of stress and even more arguing. Now we fight about 3 times a week on average. I work full time as a second grade teacher in the inner city, plus I'm the primary caretaker of the girls (he is an amazing father though). I'm up with them every morning at 5:00, get them and myself dressed and ready for the day, take them to daycare, drive to work, work all day, drive home, pick them up, make and feed them dinner, clean up, play, get ready for bed, bathe, put to bed. My husband comes home in time to play and help with baths. It's our system, our routine, and it works. The problem is that it doesn't allow for much time for me to pay attention to detail, remember things, communicate like a normal human being, and it leaves me drained to show any attention to my husband after the girls go down. I'm well aware of this, but if he says something about it, I get defensive and angry that he doesn't understand how much work it is. My ADHD is wonderful when I'm marching around the house singing songs with my girls, but not so much when I completely forget to clean the kitchen floor from dinner, then when he gets home from work and steps on a mushed up carrot, he gets mad at me for not cleaning it up, and I get mad at him for yelling at me, then it begins. He gets mad at me for everything, and my response is to shut down. I hate confrentation...this only makes him more angry and he starts getting mean, telling me how hard it is to live with me, calling me names, telling me I have no common sense, pointing out how much he does and doesn't get any appreciation for, letting me know he feels ignored, etc. I go into shut down mode, and stay there for awhile. 

Now I feel like I can't do anything right...ever! He constantly tells me that I ruin things. Like "We were having such a good day and you had to ruin it" or "way to ruin mother's day." I work and think differently, this frustrates him to no end. I either rush us when he wants to take his time or I'm "all-over-the-place" when he wants to move with urgency...and since I can't communicate properly this turns into a fight. I don't do well backed into corners, getting made to feel like shit, and I won't apologize when I feel attacked...but who's to say he's attacking...me...and I have no common sense so you can't trust me to know what I'm talking about.

I try so hard, I do the laundry, the dishes, clean the kitchen, clean the living room, and take care of 2 toddlers, with a full-time job...I feel great about myself...untill I forget to shut the window when I put on the air-conditioner (something that he asked me to do at least 54 thousand times) Then I'm right back to feeling like a failure at everything

I know he feels left out now, not getting much of my attention. I know 2 kids can take a toll on any married even without ADHD, but I just want to be happy and I want to make him happy, unfortunately I don't anymore and he has no problem telling me so. 

So that's a start into how I'm feeling...thank you if you took the time to read and make sense of my ramblings


been there

Hi there,

After reading what you wrote, I have to congratulate you on doing what sounds like an amazing job. The twin toddler years were some of the most challenging for me, and it requires a lot of emotional energy to be a good teacher--the fact that you keep going, and being a good mother (because you are!) and take care of your little ones, day in and day out, and keep on top of everything that is important (like singing with them, and bathing them, and loving them) is AMAZING. I read a lot of self-deprecation and "I am lucky my DH stuck by me because I am no prize" and "I can't communicate properly" in your post, and I hope that you don't truly feel that way. ADHD or not, I know that constant criticism from the person you love, when you are trying so hard, and working so hard, can be soul-crushing. Your reference to your dusting not being "good enough" for him, and his use of sarcasm "way to go," is HIM not communicating properly. As a teacher, think about talking to your students like this. "Way to go!" "That's not good enough." Wow. It is an attack, and an expression of contempt, maybe abusive, and I would feel like shit if someone I loved talked to me like that! And it sounds like you are doing the lion's share of the work at your house--why isn't he ever getting up at 5 and taking the kids to day care? Or making dinner and having it ready in the fridge when everyone gets home? Those are a lot higher on the priority list than "proper dusting" or noticing a carrot that is on the floor.  Believe it. I don't have ADHD, my DH does,  but I did things like leave my keys in the freezer and leave the dishes for the next day when my twins were 2, because I was so FREAKING tired. 

I highly recommend Melissa's book if you have not read it, and also counseling, if you can do it. Your husband needs to understand that he is not helping the situation by criticizing you for leaving a window open, or a carrot on the floor, and that ADHD is an "attention deficit" disorder. And that you are working full time and taking care of twins!  

I used to get annoyed that my DH would take out the garbage and never put a new bag in, and then I would throw something in there and it would splat on the bottom of the can. I mentioned it several times, and I was surprised when he didn't start putting a new bag in. And after learning about ADHD, my point of view shifted, and now I honestly think, "Oh, great, my husband took out the garbage. All I have to do is put a new bag in." I no longer think he is lazy, or doesn't care, or anything like that. Each time taking out the garbage is a new time. His attention isn't focused on the conversation we had a long time ago about the bag being replaced. Or maybe all he can deal with at that moment is just taking it out. Life is short. Who cares if there is a carrot on the floor? Dinner is made. The kids are happy. It would be great if your DH could get to the point where he could just go behind you, and close the window. And lighten up. 

If he won't go to counseling, I know it can be so hard to make that time for yourself and fit it in, but try to give yourself that gift. My DH and I unfortunately got to the point, after a few more years than you have into it, of being so resentful and angry that I still don't know if we can save it. Best of luck to you. And hang in there--honestly, I would rather, a million times over, have a mother who marched around and sang with me, and made me feel safe, than one who had a spotless house and never forgot anything. Give yourself some well-deserved credit. 

Thank you

Thank you so much!! I don't have many friends who I can talk to about this, I don't want them to hate my DH, so it feels so good just to have someone listen (read, but close enough). I loved therapy, unfortunately my therapist left her practice which was in my network and my copay went from $25 a week to $125 a week...add that to daycare costs and foodshopping for 4 and it was the first to go. I do think we need to find someone in my network to go to together, but my DH hasn't really bought into it yet. He's one of those "Blow up immediately, get out all your feelings, then get over it and think everything is alright an hour later" type a guy. I'm sure if I found one and told him I really needed him to go for me he would so it's on me to move forward with this. 

I totally relate!


HUGS to you honey.

I think we have a lot in common.

I have ADHD and my husband is the spouse without. He is a wonderful father and also has some wonderful qualities as a husband, but he is a very blunt talker and a rather rigid thinker. Our dynamic is very similar to what you describe.

We have one son who is 3 and a half and another on the way in November (after 2 years of secondary infertility- fertility treatments, etc)... The infertility alone depressed the sh!t out of me and is what led me into therapy and eventually caused me to discover my ADHD at age 33... I t explained a LOT and the meds immediately made a massive difference. I always knew something was different about me (don't want to say 'wrong') and life has always been very hard... mostly dealing with my intensity and emotions.

Anyway- I work full time as a lawyer... my husband is a financial analyst. I do almost everything around the house (cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, feeding and bathing our child, getting him ready with lunch and stuff for preschool in the morning, dropping him off and picking him up...) and I am nit-picked when they aren't done to my husband's standards. since my diagnosis, I have been a lot better- but I also call my husband out for his mean comments a lot more... so there is some friction.

Some of this is gender dynamics... If you both work full time, why are you responsible for everything home-related? My husband was on my case about cooking recently... saying I should try new recipes as he wants more variety...(I don't like to cook or to follow a recipe for that matter- but have develloped about 6 or 7 meals that I make that are healthy and quick).  I told him that if he wants me to try new things, he can get the ingredients and print me out the recipe and I'll try it- or better yet- he can do it himself! He immediately shut his mouth and the topic hasn't come up since.

You need to leave your husband alone with your kids for a full day while you go out. When you come home- instead of doing your usual (if you are like me, that would be falling over yourself in gratitude that he gave you a break and then feeling guilty that he had to endure it), look at the house with disdain and criticize him for leaving toys strew about or a cup on the counter. People who are not the primary caregiver don't understand how hard it is to do anything extra (like cleaning, straightening, etc), with small children around- ADHD or not... The one advantage these women on here with ADHD spouses have over us is that their spouses probably don't nag and belitte them over a smushed carrot on the ground or crumbs on the counter.

You've certainly hit a nerve with me today!

Why I get so angry and defensive is that I feel like all I do (like you, it's a lot) and all the GOOD I do is not really appreciated and instead I get crapped on for forgetting which button is the car defrost and asking again (my husband loses his temper and yells at me when I repeat myself or forget the answer to something I've already asked).

To be objective- I'm not all roses to live with. I am emotional and intense and sometimes embarrassing (impulsive, hyper-verbal)... I am defensive and can get my thoughts muddled. I can get stressed and anxious...  I generally have MORE of all the good and bad...

Anyway- HUGS to you. You sound like you are doing an amazing job! And twins too... I don't know how you've done it...

Life with toddlers is messy- ADHD or not. Your husband needs to chill about a smushed carrot or crumbs on the counter and take on more of the load himself if he's so bothered by it.

Hang in there!!!