I Bait My non-ADHD Spouse

I am ADHD and my wife is non-ADHD. We have been married for 19 years - no kids. I was diagnosed and medicated starting 15 years ago (take concerta) and went to therapy until 12 years ago. I learned some organizational skills (using calendar, etc) but did not do anything about my social skills and have poisoned our marriage as a consequence. I just saw an ADHD-specialized therapist for the first time yesterday - this was triggered by our marriage being in crisis - because of my unresolved ADHD symptoms and denial.

I bait my wife into maddening arguments. A typical argument can start because of one of my ADHD symptoms that I have not worked to resolve: I ignore her, talk over her, don't listen to what she is saying. The argument goes on without resolution. At some point I go silent, like I am waiting for her to stop arguing. Only I know she cannot stop because I cut her off emotionally - She needs to feel connected and can't just sleep with these emotions flying around. What am I doing? Escalating. Why? I have some ideas but I am also asking you... I become numb and unresponsive. She asks me why I am not responding and I claim I am trying to respond. She asks how I can be so mean and I respond that I am not trying to be mean. That's my ADHD denial symptom. She gets more and more frustrated to the point where she feels like pinching me and throwing things. That seizes my attention and I suddenly start responding - saying meaningful things that actually often take us to resolution of the argument.

She has stated that I am looking for stimulation - a dopamine boost and I am doing this to self-medicate and I have denied it. Last night we were arguing and I was escalating again but she refused to take the bait - she refused to lose her temper. We sat there for two hours - barely a word spoken. And she kept saying "you're provoking me but I'm not taking the bait". Finally, I pinched myself hard until it really hurt and the words started coming out of my mouth. I took responsibility for how I had ignored her feelings earlier and ended the standoff, although the length of this standoff created many more hard feelings.

This whole dynamic has happened throughout our marriage. It usually is late at night, long after any stimulant medication has worn off and when I am tired/sleepy. She says I provoke her in order to self medicate. I used to deny that but the results of pinching myself last night changed my view. When I do this I feel like I am in this numb twilight zone; however, I am actually being very mean and callous, baiting and stressing my wife - who I claim to love - in order to self-medicate with stimulation.

When I stop and think about how many years I have been doing this to my dear wife, I shudder. She keeps trying and I keep denying her. I cannot excuse this behavior and need to clean my house with the help of therapy. I am and have been denying my behavior/unresolved ADHD symptoms for far too long.

Have any of you non-ADHD or ADHD folks had similar experiences with baiting arguments and/or going numb?

numb

Hm... well, I don't think I do the baiting thing, but I definitely get numb when I've done something stupid and my husband is yelling at me.  He is always justified in his frustration, and I, humiliated, only see my screw up after he points it out.  I have no response, because I know i've completely failed again, so I just go numb and can't say anything. 

The meds really have helped me though, and so far, things have been much better.

I'd say yes, you probably need to look into behavioral therapy, or mindfulness training, maybe coaching as well as the meds.

Hope you're ok.