How to deal with lying and defensiveness?

I am really at the end of my rope and would appreciate any feedback or advice from those who know where I'm coming from.

My husband of 20 years has ADHD. About a year ago, he left me. He was tired of my anger and frustration over his ADHD behaviors. Sadly, I had just found Melissa's book and had a newfound hope for our struggling marriage, but he maintained that the problems in our relationship were my fault (control issues, anger issues, etc). He did start taking Adderall, but otherwise refused to see his part in our problems and walked away from 17 years of marriage. A big reason for him leaving was that he had found a cute young girlfriend. She dumped him after a few weeks, and he then started dating other women casually. After 6 months of this, he decided he still loved me, didn't like being single, and wanted to come back home. I took him back, and am now questioning that decision.

I love him. He's a good guy: fun, energetic, adventurous, and bold. He wants to be (and often is) a good dad to our kids. He is very impulsive and prone to lying. I don't know how aware of this he is. He is a highly compartmentalized person. He hides things away, and once I discover these secret things (or even get close to discovering them), he becomes angry, defensive, and verbally abusive. He throws things. He tells me that I am horrible. He threatens to leave me. 

Recently, he asked me to sort through, open, and organize about 2 months of his unopened mail. In that stack of mail I found a poem that he had written for his ex-girlfriend (the one he left me for). It bummed me out to see it, but I got over it (the relationship is physically over, though he's still hung up on her) and continued to clean up his mess. A couple weeks later, he gave me an edited version of the same poem. I tried to be happy about it, but was pretty hurt and told him about the poem that I had found. He became furious, called me ungrateful and mean, angrily denied that such a poem had ever existed, and accused me of having mental problems and making things up to hurt him. This event has played out many times in recent years (when I discovered he had slept with an old family friend, when I discovered that he had gone to a "massage" parlor in Vegas, etc). He denies any responsibly, lies, and accuses me of having trust/psychological issues.

He denies that he lies. He denies that he is defensive or angry. He won't read Melissa's book with me and won't even discuss ADHD issues if they negatively affect me (but will discuss what a gift it can be), and he actively avoids me when I'm upset by something he's done. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Is there hope? When I ask him to confront his distance from the truth and deal with his anger, it backfires in a powerful way (ie, that I'm crazy and he'll leave me if I don't stop being crazy). I don't want to live like this. Any suggestions? I don't want to give up on him.

Thanks for listening. I know there's a lot of pain and frustration out there. I want to improve our marriage, but I feel very alone in this effort.

Hi Going Thru,  I just had to

Hi Going Thru,  I just had to respond to your post because it really hit a nerve with me, especially the comment that your husband threatens to leave you.  That is exactly what my husband would say to me, that and a lot more.  It sounds to me like you have done more than most would to save your marriage and really have given him a lot of chances after finding out about an affair and him continuing to date.  After all that, he thinks it's ok to threaten you and say you have mental problems?!  That is NOT ok!  That is verbal abuse!!  I took that same behavior for 25 years and that is what I am so upset about today.  My husband left and had an affair and yes everyday is very painful but losing him and his verbally abusive behavior is not why I am upset.  It is because I listened to that garbage for years.  Most people tell me " you are the sweetest lady" but my husband for years continued to blame, threaten and never took responsibility for a thing.  I could never get him to listen to how I was feeling, it only upset him more.  That sounds like your husband.  You state you want to improve your marriage but if HE isn't involved in improving it, and threatening you and not being able to listen to how YOU feel isn't being involved, it won't work and never will.  You also said that after his affair he decided he still loved you and wanted to come home.  Maybe he does still love you but his behavior is not showing it.  My husband left 3 times.  The first two times he wanted to come home and I took him back.  However, I now realize it was just because for him at the time he wasn't willing to be on his own. It had nothing to do with him wanting to seriously work on improving the relationship.  All I am saying is don't take that behavior because you don't deserve it and don't beat yourself up if the marriage ends someday.  There is nothing you can do all alone that will improve it.  He has to work on himself, too.  I think that if we had known the REAL truth of what went on in our marriages we would have thrown our husbands out years earlier, but we, especially women, live in la la land and ignore all the red flags.  Thank you very much for posting.  I wish you happiness!! 

Thanks for sharing!

Thanks for your reply, add. I'm sorry you had to put up with that treatment for so long. It isn't fair. Did your husband ever take responsibility? Did he ever try to change? Did he ever start listening to you or start caring about how you feel?

It's funny: I overheard a group of young women talking making a list of what they were each looking for in a "dream man." They were throwing around various qualities, some noble, some funny, and others superficial, but I made my own mental list as I was waiting for my coffee. I never got past 1 item: someone who is nice to me and cares about me. After 20 years of marriage, that is what I have come to value. I can honestly say that my husband is not my dream man. 

I agree that he doesn't want to work on the marriage or himself, let alone even acknowledge that he has done anything hurtful. He does what he wants to when he wants to, and far be it from me to get in his way, even if that thing he wants is a cute young blonde. The threats and lies and defenses do feel like abuse. Two days ago, while I was trying to talk to him calmly about a problem in our marriage, he stopped me midsentence and said, "If you don't shut up right now, I will divorce you." I stopped talking, but only to pause to realize the ridiculousness of what he just said. In the past, that would have shut me up pretty fast. But this time, instead of shutting up, I finished my sentence and left the room. I haven't said much more than "hello" and "goodbye" to him since, and he seems fine with that.

I took my wedding ring off this morning. I say I've had it, but I am still waiting for him to change. I completely agree that I, like many women I know, have ignored the red flags in blind loyalty and hope that our marriage was strong and would rise above anything. I now hope I can have the courage to stop waiting/hoping for him to change and just start living my own life. Easier said than done. 

I wonder how much of his behavior (lying, threatening, blaming, and defensiveness) is related to ADHD? When I found Melissa's book, I had so much hope. Like I said, he has no interest in reading it, as according to him I am the only thing wrong with our marriage. I think I need to re-read the book, even if it is only for my own sake.


Please don't beat yourself up

Please don't beat yourself up for wanting to stay and wanting to make it work.  I've been re-reading my journal today - 18 months of heart wrenching personal growth, grief, and confusion over my relationship with my ex.  I've spent 100s of hours researching ADHD and it's effects on people and relationships.  But I've also spent 100s of hours working on myself.  I am proud of myself for as far as I've come. I am proud of myself for how strong I am.  I am proud of myself that I am the kind of woman who wants the best for other people and sees beyond "what is to what could be".  Is it easy?  Not at all.  Sometimes I wish I was someone who could just say "screw him!" and walk away.  But this is who I was created to be, and I am learning to love my strengths and forgive my weaknesses.

My counselor and about 10 of my friends have said to me in the last few weeks - "we know you deserve better than how he is treating you, but we love and support you and ONLY you can decide when you are done."

When you are done you will know.  If you've reached that point, then give yourself the grace to move on without guilt or regret.  If you're not there yet then give yourself grace to continue your journey.  

Oh, and when I'm complaining in a few months that I took him back and he hurt me again, can you all remind me I wrote this?  ;-)

Hang in there, GoingThru.  You are NOT alone.


All the above that you have mentioned i have been through.Just recently i had one of the biggest gruesome discovery when i picked up my ex phone and saw a text message he sent to a woman and it said"meeting you tonight",i stayed still,i paused out of shock.Never knew that he was cheating on me since he was the one to always tell me that cheating messes up a whole relationship/love.He preached this in my head for years and always try to convince me that he is no cheater when in fact i found a naked woman in hi apartment one afternoon when i went to meet him,it was the night of my birthday.I was so hurt and sobbing uncontrolably.I soon after found Melissa's book and found hope for our love and marrige.I love him more than i had known because i stayed and tried even after that.

He saw my weak ares and started to treat me very bad after that,he chased me constantly for the past 3 years,he cursed me non stop,called me horrid names and told me that i am a little immature girl that needs to grow up,told me every time we had an argument that he would leave me for being childish.This went on for years and i kept going back over and over again.The last big fight was about me and my health going down from all the stress he gave me.I did an operation and i saw no help no concern from him.No financial help,support nothing!,the support would be a settled resort for me but i did not even got that,right then and there i realized that he just don;t give a damn about nobody,nothing but him self.His cheating manipulating abusive nasty actions has left me no choice other than to leave him.I tried all how every direction to make it work,i read books,stayed on line here for a long time trying to dig up anything helpful to save us,i never succeeded,he just never wanted to start meds or resort to working on his anger,if we had a fight in public he would make sure to put up a scene so that people would take his side even though he was the wrong one ALL THE TIME..

He turns arguments on me all the time and blames me for this whole marriage failure saying that i am to damn insecure that's why we were having problems.I am no longer with him and i still love him but i will never ever go back with him again and don't want to have anything to do with him period.He brings his past relations in our marriage while together and compared me to his ex before me.

i constantly lived in abuse with him,it's not healthy to be in an abusive relationship,i see how much you love your husband but that is not the way a man should treat his wife period! even if he wanted to have other women,cheat whatever still you should never have to resort to be called names etc.because you keep taking him back he thinks that he can treat you how ever he wants and get away with it,but i you put down your foot and stop giving him all those chances then maybe he would stop the abuse.

20 years is a long time to be faced with that type of abuse,it's been only 3 years and it took me that long to finally get out...

i hope you make the right decision for your own sake and stop thinking about him any more because it's clear from your post that he has only been thinking of himself and i don't see where he was ever thinking of you in this...




I have been watching a program lately that is helping me face the truth and see things more clearly.  I watch "Bridezillas" and wonder why the grooms are willing to put up with the self centered brides.  I am more and more realizing that my dh is a groomzilla for our entire marriage, toned down but still with the same mind set. He wants things his way or he is willing to call names, manipulate, conive, lie and hurt people with the tone of justified entitlement.  He doesn't care about how things sound or look or how I feel.  When I remember the word, "groomzilla", I can see AND ACCEPT THE TRUTH that this is how he has acted during our entire marriage.  The last couple months I have not been the supportive, thoughtful person I had been my whole life and things are really terrible here right now and I see what I have been doing to enable him to be that way with me.  It is a battle zone that I now can see that he is comfortable in a battle zone....I cannot stand it. 

I had been keeping the peace at any cost.  I had been trying to support his ego so that (in my IMAGINATION) he might be able to love and give back and appreciate everything I have done.  It never happened and he does not remember all I have done for him over the past 40 years.  NOTHING!  He takes history and changes it around in his head so that he can live with himself without guilt or shame.....which is how he copes with his ADD.  He is willing to use words and names to me and others that I never would use against people.  

Trust me, you won't feel good about YOURSELF if you spend a lifetime with someone who is acting badly toward you.  There are no rewards AND your health and self respect will suffer.  It is not the person you are loving when you say you love is the vision of the person (spouse or bf) that you yourself have created that you are loving....if you love the person who is bad to you.  If the person is disappointing and hurting you, he will continue to disappoint and hurt you.