Husband doesn't listen, has temper

I am new to this site, and to posting about my ADD husband.  A background on me: We have been married for 22 years.  In  many respects, we are a success story.  My husband has always worked hard to provide for the family, and I try to accept his disorganization, distraction and emotional disconnect (on occasion) patiently and with understanding.  We have 5 children, the oldest being 21, then 19, 16, 14, and 7.  Two of our children have shown strong tendencies towards ADHD. one of which has a diagnosis of ADD PI (primarily inattention).  I love my husband, he has many wonderful qualities.  He's charming, funny, hard working and is aware of his struggles with ADD, and tries to manage them all the time.

There are two things, however, that have been a strain on our relationship and his relationship with his children at various times in our family life.  He doesn't listen.  If I try to make a point, or argue an opinion, he will shut down the discussion, insist that he is right, or resort to belittling, hurtful comments.  Our children have all, at different times, expressed their frustration at not being able to talk to their father for fear that he will not respect their opinions or value what they have to say.  This is especially true if they try to express their negative emotions about something, or how they feel about what he is saying to them, or doing that bothers them.  Often, when discussions do go sideways, his temper flares, and he will over react to things so vehemently, I usually just shut the conversation down and walk away.  Currently our second oldest, 19 year old son is not speaking to his father, and has moved out.  Our 21 year old daughter has resolved to try and talk to her father about her feelings, and if he doesn't listen, she will walk away from the relationship for awhile (she is married and lives away from home as well).  Both of these things bring me great stress.  I should mention that I am currently in counselling myself for mild-moderate anxiety brought on by the stress level in my home and life right now - much of which has to do with my husband's relationship with my son. 

So my question is this: Is a flaring temper, the inability to be flexible and give and take in a conversation, or insisting that they are right a common trait in ADD/ADHD?  Or is my husband just an overreactive highly strung overbearing person? 

Any opinions or questions would be appreciated. 




I can empathise/sympathise with you

My husband acts in a very similar way to yours and this has caused "issues" with all 3 of our grown up children from time to time. He now has a long-distance relationship with the eldest two, neither of whom live close to us,  who are both married and lead independent lives. Superficially, everything is fine between them, but their contact is very limited to occasional phone calls and very rare visits, although all of them would probably describe themselves as "very close". Our youngest is still living at home, and has a similar personality to his dad. I found their constant arguing unbearable, but it has improved now that our son has a full time job, and they therefore spend much less time together. My husband is still in denial that he has ADD, so I can't mention this when I try to discuss his behaviour. Generally,although I refused to get drawn into their arguments, I used to find myself more sympathetic towards my son than my husband. This was because it usually felt like "6 of one and half a dozen of the other" but I felt that my husband was the "adult" and should therefore be able to control his behaviour better. He always felt that I was taking sides against him, and that would cause tensions between us. Now, having learned more about the ADD brain, I accept that my husband is simply responding to having his emotions (usually fear/insecurity) roused, in the way he always has. He tries to force his views on the other party to make them see he is "right" (by implication this means that they have to admit they are "wrong" for him to be satisfied). I realise now that he thinks that he has been able to "convert" people to his views like this over the years, rather than seeing the reality that they simply back off, avoid the confrontation and go away thinking he is a bit of a jerk. Nowadays, when my husband starts ranting about how unreasonable my son is being, I try to give the impression that I sympathise with him. I agree that our son is acting unreasonably (which he often is). Having this validation about his position often helps my husband calm down a bit. I can then say things like "But you seemed to completely ignore his point of ....., so no wonder he just flew off the handle. He's too immature to do anything else at the moment."  If possible, I try to quote verbatim things my husband has said that caused the situation to get worse and try to suggest an alternative way he could have handled it. Interestingly, my husband often denies/has no recollection of saying certain things (another ADHD trait!). Over a period of time, this tactic is paying dividends. My husband is beginning to see his role in the argument and is beginning to see why I and all of the children have often said/intimated that he is a bullying, intimidating know-all. I think he is actually listening to us all a little bit more, and tries to see other ways of getting his point across. Of course, it is not a smooth path - 2 steps forward, 1 step back  - back it does give me hope for a calmer future.

One suggestion regarding your situation - can you discuss the specific issues with your husband about your 2 eldest children in a way that doesn't make him feel that you are taking their side? It would be better to try to get him to accept his role in the situations before he actually starts talking to them again, otherwise, history will just repeat itself and the situation will escalate.

Hope this is helpful and if not, at least you have my sympathy!