Husband with ADHD seems like he has to be right all the time

I'm new to this forum and my husband has been diagnosed with ADHD for about 5 years now.  He also suffers from anxiety, depression, and PTSD.  I didn't notice his need to be right all the time at the beginning of our relationship.  I'm not sure if I was just high on emotion and blind with love and infatuation or if he didn't exhibit this behavior as much then.  I use to be able to talk to him when he was depressed and make him feel better.  Now it seems like when he's depressed I can't say anything that makes him feel better.  I try to tell him good things about himself, but he just denies them.  He's recently watched some videos on YouTube of a Dr. Barklay on ADHD.  He's become extremely depressed and doesn't think that he can improve his ADHD symptoms or behavior.  That it's a physical deformity of the brain and that even with all the knowledge of the world on how to help his ADHD, he still won't be able to utilize this knowledge.  I'm so very frustrated.  I've worked as a paraprofessional in schools and so has my mother.  We know that ADHD symptoms can be improved.  He refuses at this point to see any positives in having ADHD.  When I try to bring up any positives, he states that those are just his personality traits that have nothing to do with ADHD.  One of the positives that I mentioned to him was the ability to think outside the box.  It's one of the reasons that I fell in love with him in the first place.  He said that I was just grasping at straws to make him feel better.

Does anyone else have a spouse with ADHD that seems to feel like they are right all the time and that you are wrong?

I wouldn't say that my

I wouldn't say that my husband ALWAYS has to be right, but he does seem to feel the need to be "right" about what I consider to be silly things.  For example, the other night, we were playing a trivia game with one of our adult daughters.  My husband is very smart; he knows a lot of stuff.  I acknowledge that.  I don't mind that he wins games.  But it really annoyed me that a few times during the game, he implied that he didn't answer a question correctly because the game was wrong, not him.  And then there was a question about a certain video game that, according to the question, had been very popular at some point, and after my husband gave a wrong answer, he said something like, such and such game actually wasn't very popular (i.e., "I would have known the answer if the question had been accurate...").  

In the example you've given about your husband, I wonder if he just needs some time to digest the diagnosis.  It takes longer for some people than for others to process and accept a diagnosis of a brain-related condition.  He might feel ashamed; he might feel hopeless; he might feel that this is who he is and that no one has the right to suggest he should change.  Telling him about the positives of ADHD is good.  Maybe also encourage him to see the positives of treatment.  Good luck.

Ah, The Oppostional Thing

As far as not noticing this behavior at the beginning, I can honestly say the onset of marriage was like a complete 180 in my relationship. (I kicked myself and felt stupid about it for a long time before learning this is often a feature.) It was virtually like waking up and realizing you married a complete stranger. Talk about horrifying. I've since learned that is common in add affected relationships due to both the dopamine charge of the falling in love and the initial fact of being the object of hyperfocus.

I do not know to what degree your husband needs to be right. Though my husband isn't officially dx with oppositional defiant disorder, his degree of "needing to be right," does technically qualify. It's also about the dopamine charge that comes from something exciting like fighting.

I think when you're talking about the video situation, as I've experienced, it's an inability to handle frustration and push through.

Pbartender's picture

"A Physical Deformity"...

What he needs to remember is that modern medicine is fantastic at finding methods to compensate for physical deformities...

Eyesight, and its remedies, is one example that is commonly used in comparison to ADHD and it is also one example that I am am keenly familiar with.

Like many people, I have a common "physical deformity" of the eyes -- my eyeballs are too long front to back -- that causes me to be nearsighted...  to the point that I cannot clearly see anything much past the end of my nose.  I also have a "physical deformity" of the lenses that gives an astigmatism to boot.  Now, just like ADHD, there is no benefit to being nearsighted or having an astigmatism...  Your husband is 100% correct there**.  But, with a good eye doctor, I can get a pair of glasses or contact lenses that can help me see just as well as any other person.  I will have to wear them for the rest of my life, but they give me the chance to do all the things I wouldn't normally be able to, since I am functionally blind without them.

ADHD is not so different...  medication helps correct the resulting memory problems and inattentiveness.  Just as a student with glasses must still learn to read, the ADHDer must still learn the communication and organizational skills required to function well.  Just like glasses, the medications will likely need to be taken life-long , but with medication, therapy, coaching, dedication and persistence, he can improve his symptoms.


**There are a lot of personality traits that ADHDers tend to share...  creativity, spontaneity, mental flexibility, so on and etc...  but these are not traits of ADHD.  Rather, these are traits that most (semi-)successful undiagnosed ADHDers inadvertently develop to compensate for the numerous drawbacks that arise from ADHD.  For example, when an undiagnosed ADHDer must solve a problem, they cannot always rely on the memories of past solutions or lessons.  Instead, they often must have the creativity and ingenuity to create a solution whole-cloth from what knowledge and tools are immediately at hand. 

Just because these sorts of traits don't come from ADHD, however, doesn't mean they should be discounted.  On the contrary, because those are traits that belong to him and only him, they make him who he is, they make him stronger, and they make him all the more likely that he'll be able to succeed at improving himself, despite his ADHD.



Pbartender's picture


Something else to consider is that the need to be right could be an attempt to take control of...  something...  anything.

ADHD, especially undiagnosed, gives a continual feeling of having little or no control over your life, of continuous uncertainty, of always doubting whether your thoughts and memories are correct.  Sometimes, an ADHDer (I've often been guilty of this myself) clings to being right about something just to gain that sense of control back...  To try to prove to himself (and others) that he isn't wrong ALL of the time.

That doesn't mean that it's a GOOD way to deal with it, but it also doesn't necessarily mean he's just doing it to be a jerk...  If he's got anxiety and depression along with the ADHD, it would certainly explain it.  Perhaps if he can get control over the anxiety and depression, he can regain the confidence he'll need to deal with the ADHD?