How does he expect me to read his mind?

Communication is a huge issue for those with ADHD, and it definitely is with my husband. Part is probably due to the way he was raised, too. His mom and dad are horrible at talking to one another.

Many of our arguments leave me bewildered. They can pop up out of what seems like nothing, but is really something that has been festering away at my dh (and he hasn't talked to me at all about it.) He is a tax accountant, so he's very busy right now and rarely home. Comes with the territory. Yesterday, he said he wanted to do something as a family (we have 2 kids) in the evening. I told him that we would be at the neighbor's for a birthday party, so just call when he got home, He insisted I give him a time, or else he ends up working too late. So I told him fine, 7:00. I kept looking for his car from the neighbor's, but he doesn't call till about 8:45 that he is on his way. I am not upset, b/c I know he is swamped. 

Today (Sunday) he has not said anything about if/when he will go into work. Around 9:30 a.m. (we are still in pjs, haven't eaten breakfast), he starts asking what we want to do b/c he is going into work in a few hours. Being kids, they said "I don't know". Dh is not suggesting ideas, either. Suddenly he is all pissed and says "Forget it, I'll just go into work" and stomps upstairs to get dressed. I ask my kids to just suggest a game or something, and my son said that he did. So, DH comes down pissed and I tell him that our son wanted to play this game. DH says that my kids are not the problem, it is me. That when he gets home, I go off into the computer room or am on my phone. Now, I will admit that I do this. But, that is because he is rarely home right now, and I have 24/7 responsibility of the kids/house. I need a break, so that is why I do that. I figure he'd want some one-on-one time with the kids. 

He then starts yelling about an email I sent him (after he called me ranting and hung up when I challenged him) when I just told him that I support him, but cannot be his punching bag. He called me "chicken shit" for not talking about it. Um, how the hell was I going to talk to you about it when you hung up on me? And, there isn't much opportunity with him never being home. 

There is absolutely no use trying to reason or talk to him when he is like this. He just continues to yell. He ends up leaving (squealing tires and all). So, you are mad at me, but then end up not doing anything at all with even the kids??? Who are sitting there for all of this? And then I find out my neighbor (and probably all the others) heard him yelling, because he was continuing to do so when he got in his car. Lovely.

I do take some responsibility for making him feel unwanted. That was not my intention, but I didn't make it clear that I needed a break. I am a very social person, so some days facebook/email are my only meaningful adult conversations. So, I decide to offer to come with the kids and bring dinner. It is a beautiful day, so maybe we can sit outside. I call his cell, no answer. I sent a text an hour ago and he has not responded. I am so tired of playing these games. If you were bothered by me being on the computer, then why the heck wouldn't you just say, "Hey, could you please come hang out here with us instead of being on the computer?" Why let it build up till you explode??? 

If anyone has good tips on communicating (especially during conflict) with your ADHD spouse, please share them. I am also going to reread that section in Melissa's book.

Lovely way to start the day

Hello.  Don't you just love those morning tantrums?  It sounds to me like he is stressed and overwhelmed at work so his symptoms are more in control right now and you and the kids got to take the brunt of it.  You are right that he can't be reasoned with in that mood.  Even if you all had been prepared with great ideas when he first asked he likely would have nit-picked the idea.  But he likely felt like to should spend some time with all of you.  But didn't communicate that well.

I usually ask the night before what DH's plans are for the following day.  Then we can be on the same page to start since mornings aren't good communication times before meds kick in.  Sounds like you had good reason to assume he'd be going to work, but he might have felt more important to you if you had enquired.  He probably doesn't really care about the computer time, but it came up in the heat of the moment as something he could pin on you.  But it is a good idea to check in with your guy for a few minutes each day as a spouse.  It's the little things we do sometimes that can make a difference.  Or at least deflect a fight.  Nice of you to try to do dinner later.  I hope he calmed down by the time you reconnected.

Still The Same

ShelleyNW- I always appreciate the thoughtful responses you give people here. You seem to be very good at looking at the perspective of both sides of the situation. 

I agree with it being a good idea to ask about plans. I do this sometimes, and probably should have in this situation. I know he is overworked and overtired right now. These two things make it even more difficult to predict his moods or what could set him off. In his mind, it feels sometimes like it it us (my 5 and 7 year olds and me) against him. Obviously, we are not trying to do this. 

Unfortunately, there has been no change in the situation. He did not answer my call or text about bringing dinner on Sunday. Because the building is locked that day, there is no way I could have just surprised him and brought it up. My kids asked me about it, but I just told them I hadn't heard from Daddy. He came home after I was in bed, slept on the couch (both things are typical of tax season for him...not just because he is mad), then did not get up till I took DD to preschool and was gone when I got back. Last night, he again came home late. He got up before my son left for the bus. He did not say one word to my son (age 7). After taking him to the bus stop (during which time Dh left for work), my daughter was up. She told me she tried to make Daddy talk to her, but he wouldn't. She is 5 and the look on her face just crushed me. Now I am incredibly upset and pissed. It is one thing if you want to be mad at me, but why the hell wouldn't you talk to your kids? I guess he thinks he is punishing us all, but in the long run, he is just punishing himself and his relationship with his kids. I am dumbfounded at this and have no idea what to tell my kids (besides that this is in no way their fault.) I will definitely call/email/text and ask him what he wants me to tell the kids when they ask why Daddy won't talk to them. Besides the temper tantrums, he has always been a great dad. He has never done anything like this before. He is hurt in some way, but  when it comes to the kids, I refuse to coddle him until he comes around. 


I am so sorry to hear he is displacing his anger onto the kids.  That is so not fair to them.  I think texting him regarding what you should tell the kids is perfectly acceptable.  Maybe you can also schedule a meeting for the two of you to discuss what is bothering him.  Calmly.  Although that might be difficult before next Tuesday I suppose.  I do feel for you.  Best wishes.

barneyarff's picture

input please

Hi Everyone


So, I'm out of town on business.  Before I left, my DH told me that his therapist (he has had 1 session)  suggested that since my DH is a much softer touch when it comes to discipline, I needed to not let the kids run to me or call me while I was out of town and I should let him be the parent.  frankly, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  I've begged him to "be the parent" especially when I'm gone.  the last time I was out of town, I was so far away that I could not be called so he was on his own.  When I got home, not 2 minutes into being home, I saw a very dangerous situation that had been allowed to happen.  Later that week I got a phone call from my Mother who had witnessed some pretty nasty verbal abuse from my DH to the kids.  I also got a lecture from a friend of mine that my daughter was learning that women were supposed to take the verbal abuse because of the way her Dad treated her.  After that, I insisted that DH get counseling and parenting classes.  He was resistive but has had 1 session as I said.

so to say I've "undermined" his authority while I was gone was silly in my point of view.  (verbal abuse and a physically dangerous situation need to be attended IMO no matter whose toes are run over).   So now I'm out of town again but much closer to home.  Gone 2 days.  The 1st day, the dog got violently ill and needed to go to the vet.  DH had taken the morning off anyway to take our son to the doctor but instead of taking the dog to the vet himself he had my Mother and my daughter do it.  So I listened to my daughter cry about her dog  (the dog is going to live, btw) but didn't give any instructions.

then today in the middle of an important meeting i get a call.  My neighbors found both dogs on a busy street and could not catch them.  They called me because my cell phone is on the collar.

I had them call my Mom to help and I called a friend who is retired to help then called my DH.  After all is said and done, the gate had come open after the utility person went in.  for years (Years!)  I have asked DH to fix that problem.  His solution is to put a bungie cord around the gate.  that sure is pretty!   So, now here we are again.  I've been told by my ADHD husband not to undermine his parenting while I'm gone.  My dogs could have gotten killed because he won't fix the gate properly.   I would hire it done, but once again, I have been told not to undermine his authority and he says the bungie cord is good enough.

My Mother is going to browbeat me because of all the stuff she's had to do because my DH won't step up to the plate.  I've come to realize that I take a lot of sh.....t from people who complain about my DH's behavior.  I feel terribly guilty about his behavior and I've come to realize I've taken it on the chin lots of times for him.  My fault of course.  i do relay the message but then I'm blamed for being critical or interfering or any number of things.  So, hopefully I've learned to tell everyone if they have a complaint about DH to take it up with him.  Maybe his life won't be as rosey as it has been. 

But if my DH is wanting to be the parent why did he ask my 80 year old mother to take the dog to the vet?  Why didn't he do it?  he had time  Do I call him on it?   I have a retired friend who could fix the gate for a little money but if I ask him to do it, am I undermining my DH's authority?  I have wanted for years for DH to fix the gate properly so the dogs won't escape.  Why must I let my children and pets be at risk so my DH can save face and keep his "Authority"?  This bowing to the ADHD god seems very patriarchal to me.  Everyone must bow to it because the ADHD god's feelings must always be massaged and the ADHD god should never be held accountable even in the face of abuse and danger (or just plain inconviniance) to others in the family.

This feels very wrong.  It feels "Icky"  I feel trapped again and I feel like my dogs and kids might be in jepordy just because my DH knows all about controlling nons after his one therapy session and has taken it upon himself to tell me to mind my own business.  Again, if it were a scheduling situation or a problem of feeding the kids too much pizza while I'm gone, well that's his way of parenting and there you go......   But where is the line so my family will be safe?

I don't think you should

I don't think you should defer to your husband on matters that involve the health and safety of your children or your animals.  If something happens to them because of your husband's bad decisions or lack of responsibility, the police or courts or humane society are not going to say, "Well, it's OK that happened, because the guy had ADHD."

Safety First

Hello.  I'm sorry you have to deal with this while you're away.  It would be so nice to be able to trust your spouse to be able to run the household for a couple days.  Alas.  I agree with Rosered, when it comes to the safety of your kids and pets his feelings really aren't the priority.  On the one hand, in order to become a more effective person he does have to be able to try different strategies to see what works without the threat of being ridiculed if they don't at first.  But this is more like time management issues, not about basic safety or abuse issues. 

With regards to things like the fence I try the approach of "please fix the fence by next Friday or I will hire it done.  Is that a reasonable amount of time to expect you to fix it?"  Then get it fixed if he hasn't.  He had the opportunity, and has no right to be cranky with you for having it fixed (although he probably will be).  If he says his bungee solution is all that needs to be done, you can respond, "I understand you feel that way, but I would be a lot more comfortable if you fixed it properly to reduce the risk.  Having it unfixed leaves me with anxiety that they can still get out and hurt."  Or something to that effect.

As for calling him out for asking your mom to take the dog to the vet, that's something you might bring up at some neutral time.  You can ask him how his thought process got him to asking her for help.  Listen to the answer and without being critical, point out why she might not have been the best choice.  Ask him what other options there might have been. 

I like the having complainers take it up with him approach.  You are not responsible for his behavior.  We are asked to not take it personally when their symptoms attack us, so we should also not take the blame for when his symptoms attack others.  Try to respond politely to your Mom, and remind her that she can say no to his requests if they aren't reasonable.  Remind her that you can not control his symptoms and would appreciate it if she would be more understanding rather than critical. 

Unfortunately it can take a while for treatment to work and your husband to develop new strategies and coping methods.  I do hope that he can do so without further harm to your family.  Treatment for the kids dealing with emotional attacks might be useful over time too.  Good luck.

My dad and mind-reading

I am not married to a person with ADHD, but my dad has it, so I've had a lot of similar experiences. He gets so angry when I ask him for or about something that he doesn't want to give or do or think about. His idea seems to be that I should already know the answer without him having to communicate at all. For example, if I ask to borrow the car on a particular day, he gets upset that I don't know exactly what his plans are, and that he has to use the car. Sometimes he screams at me so much that I start to cry, and I just want to clear up in a little ball sand disappear. Sometimes I just yell back, "that's why I'm asking!!! you don't want me to borrow the car that day, just say no, or tell me I can, but on a different day!! I am ok with him just saying no - I can handle it and move on to my plan b!!

in addition to that, he also thinks he can read other people's minds. He accuses me of thinking bad stuff about him, and also thinks he's the only one who can determine what my feelings are, not me.

im so tired of this crap that I just want to get away from him and never come back. 

Yutolia....This Just Happened to Me

I have ADHD...but so does my next door neighbor.  The only reason I know is because his son had ADHD and he and I have talked about it.  His son has helped me with some projects but here's the deal.  His father sound exactly like you just described and does exactly the same thing to the letter.  I'm almost sure...the father does not know he has ADHD.

So just last week....I borrow some scaffolding from him (he's a finish carpenter).  I asked him if he was going to need it and he said no....go ahead.  I told him I would only need it for a few days but possibly only two and he said....fine...go ahead. (we borrow tools from time to time since we live next door.)

So two days (exactly ) go by but I need to finish the job I was working on and only needed the scaffolding a couple or hours more.  I get a knock on the door and the father is standing there all pissed off and yells at me that if I'm going to borrow things I should return them like I said I would and storms off mumbling that he needed the scaffolding and now he can't work.  Huh??

So I take down the scaffolding and return it but the father's gone?????  I knock on the door and his son answers and I ask..."what's up with your father....I told him 3 days and now he's angry...but now that I bring it back... he gone...but he said he needs it today but can't work without it and he's mad at me.  What's up with that??"

His son said..."I think he got a call this morning for a job where he needs it....and I think he might have gone over to the job to take a look....and I think the last thing I want to do is get involved since...I could give a shit what my father thinks since he does this kind of thing to me ALL THE TIME!!!!  Do you want me to call him and ask him???:"

I said..."Noooooooooooooo!!!!  I was just curious because none of that made any sense to me either since when I borrowed it...I told him 3 days and he said fine....but now I don't return things when I said but it's only been two days and I'm sitting here with my mouth open wondering what just happened....that's all?  When ever he gets back and actually needs;s right here waiting for him....that all I wanted to ask you."

Three hours later...he arrives back home to pick up the scaffolding....more than enough time for me to have finished what I was doing and having sitting right where it was when he came home since it was 7:30am when he came knocking on my door yelling and angry for not reading his mind and not predicting the future for him????

Even though....he said 3 days was fine....I won't be needing it????

And his sons sentiments...were the same as yours.  And I in turn....doubt if I will ever borrow that scaffolding again even though just last week...he borrowed my welder and is still using it?? 

We feel your pain.



i recognize all of that. I'm guessing it really wasn't ok to borrow it for 3 days - but why would he tell you that? You can read his mind!! He probably also thinks that you should know that his work called needing him with that scaffolding - not only should you be able to read his mind, but you are also expected to know the future too. 


Im sorry that happened!! I can definitely understand.

Yolulia.......Thanks for Your Concerns

But I am more concerned and sorry you are having to deal with this since my neighbor isn't my father.  I don't have to live with him the same as you (or my next door neighbors son which sounds very similar ) as I said.  He looked visibly distraught when I appeared at the door the other day...and he told me he had just quit working with his father since it had it had become impossible for him as his subordinate (making him do dangerous tasks beyond his capabilities and not understanding (again) what the problem was with what he was asking of him to do ) if......he should just know how to do everything he does, without the years of experience or the benefit of having any one instruct him how correctly with no other teacher but his father.  It's completely ask someone of this, let alone expecting them to mind read and not say anything before hand.....and then just blow up with no explanation other than to blame it all on you for not knowing how or knowing anything they're thinking.  I totally understand and none of that is your fault.  You should not take any of that on to yourself however.....I understand that living with your father....makes it kind of hard not to take things like this personally.  All you really can separate yourself, from the things he says and let it go.  As nearly impossible as this may seem to do for really have no other choice without it effecting your own self esteem and how you feel about yourself when your father does these things with you.  The same as with my neighbors son....who finally had to quit working with his father and lose the only source of income he had in the process.....just to get away from it for his own sanity and self protection.

I actually have a very strong feeling that my own father might have had ADHD as well but with him.....that was the least of my problems since he had more than just ADHD involved and that was by far....and much more difficult and damaging thing to deal with in him.  It over shadowed anything I see with my neighbor aside from the part where (my father too) expected others to mind read him and only reacted or blew up when other people failed to do that with him.  That part.....was clearly the same with my own father I do very much understand this and recognize the same thing with my neighbor as well.

Saying to you from the heart of someone who's been there.....the best thing you can do for learn how not to let that effect you personally and not take these things in as any reflection on you or anything you've done.  Harboring anger and resentment over this and even yelling back won't do anything but be hurting yourself and do nothing to change him what so ever.  I now the feeling of wanting to crawl into a hole and it was with me when I was still living at home sometimes.  All I wanted to do is get away as fast and as far as possible which eventually I did at the first opportunity.

My concerns extend to you Yolulia....and these moments you described that cause you so much pain.

I am truly sorry for the times in my past where I must have been like this myself and am still feeling a good deal of deep regret for what I did not know in my past.  I regret not having anyone spot this or understand what they were seeing or know where to get help or anyone to listen when I cried for help the same as you.

What I am thankful for and truly blessed for the fact that extreme volatile outburst did not come with a hair trigger with me but I did have them in the past at times over stressful situations.  With me....I usually took outside or away from the people I was upset at so they never really saw me loose my control and my temper and took it out on inanimate objects instead.  Mostly....and most the time.....others never saw this side of me and I kept that pretty well hidden from them in fear of embarrassment or retaliation.

But that's not to say....just because I didn't blow up or was outwardly upset or even angry....that my ability to manage and control my emotions did/does not show up in different ways.  Even if I don't blow up and have tantrums that I take out on others....doesn't mean I don't get an attitude that shows how I feel outwardly. 

Other people have to deal with this part....even if I'm not pointing fingers, blaming others and having temper tantrums directing all the blame for my inability to process my emotions well in times of stress (even if not at other times) directly and overtly at them.  This still has a damaging effect on the senses or others and it is still something that I must keep in mind as well.

No matter how it comes across or in which form it comes in to you is not personal to you or anything you've done....and it has nothing to do with you when your father does these things.  That may be nearly impossible for you to think about when you're hurt crying and angry in the moment....but if you can learn to process through this yourself...and see it for what it is as nothing you've done to bring this on to will be able to let it go and move on and not take the anger and resentment you must feel with you. 

For your sake.....I know this is the answer that I found I have to learn how to do in the same way for myself and it took some time to learn and it wasn't easy at first I can tell you.  But can learn and it can be done and still have ADHD at the same time.  I'm living proof of this and am still working on improving it all the time and I feel so much better than I ever use to because of it.  Learning to process your emotions completely and resolve them for yourself and not let that effect others who don't have this problem associated with ADHD is the exact answer and cure for this issue we have.   It's the same answer and the same solution for the same you don't take it with you and leave it behind.



Yutolia, I get it.

He gets so angry when I ask him for or about something that he doesn't want to give or do or think about.  H does this too.  I don't know if it is a symptom of ADD.  It seems to go with the territory but what part of ADD causes it?  overwhelm? defensiveness?   Whatever the cause, H gets angry at requests from me too and I, too, have come into the habit of saying "Never mind, I'll just figure out a way to do it."  or more often, not expecting him for cooperation.  COOPERATION is what seems to be missing.  PARTNERING WITH someone else seems to be the difficulty with H.  His independence seems to be more important to him that any long term relationship.  When someone expects something from him, he balks.  NO EXPECTATIONS!!!!!   Well, that is not what family is about.  Family is about believing that you can count on those people to have a life of togetherness.

He accuses me of thinking bad stuff about him, H does this too.  "You just think....... You just think....."  and it has the effect of calling me a snob, or unloving or a b_____, or a nag, is a sneaky way to shut me up.  He knew that I would internalize what he said and I would "feel bad", but he seemed to not care about that.  His aim was to get me to shut up. It's manipulative.

I am an artist too.  We can be too sensitive.  It is not a good combination of one person being ADD and the other a sensitive artist.  I have learned to not take ANYTHING personally, not to believe most of what he says.  Hard to do if the person shutting you down is a parent. I am sorry.  I tell myself the story in my mind that I am OK, I am strong, his words do not define me. He won't remember or FEEL any of it in a short time.  It is lonely if you must do this with your life partner.  


Oh man - yes, all of this...

Oh man - yes, all of this... so much.


I cannot even count the times he has assumed what I think  - just because I am asking him about something or trying to get resolution on something.  I HATE IT!  And no matter what I say - he still thinks what he thinks - no matter what the truth is.  SO frustrating.


That and you are right Jenna - family is defined by the love, commitment and faith you can put in someone else.  Doesnt have to be blood.  And a marriage is NOT 2 people who share the same shelter.   NO WAY.  And I know I want more.  I dont want to spend another year of my life, lonely, neglected and sad and living on eggshells waiting for him to decide to leave.  Its not fair to me - and I have decided that the cruelest person to me - IS me... because I have allowed it.  I have accepted that neglect and half hearted "love" and all the shit for 7 years, and I returned it with love, support, forgiveness, compassion, faith and adoration.  NO MORE.


What was your H's birthorder in his family.  Just curious?