Love my husband but...

I am coming to terms with the fact that my husband in all likelihood has ADHD. While we do not have an official diagnosis, 80% of the indicators are there. In addition, his son is clearly ADHD and it isn't a huge stretch to figure out where he got it from. In general I would say our marriage is good and through some gift from above, he has been able to develop coping and masking strategies that allow him to be socially and financially competent - most of the time. We've had many setbacks and I am struggling with our current one. We've had a rough month and when I take a step back I see that it began the week he started his new "dream" job. I know he's feeling stress to perform in this new job; he wants to make a good impression and be successful. He sets pretty high expectations for himself, and has some self-esteem issues, so the net result is this huge, pent up mass of stress that he eventually diffuses all over me. I've trained myself to remain as objective as possible but it is soooo difficult. When I open the topic for discussion, maybe a day or two later when we are both in a good mood, he has so warped the confrontation it's as though he wasn't even a part of it. And EVERYTHING, absolutely everything is my fault. Every sentence out of his mouth begins with You; you did this, you said that, you won't even... etc. etc. I don't become defensive as I've learned that only escalates things. I just listen and try to redirect the conversation, but he REFUSES to assume ANY responsibility for his role in the blowup. I've been to counseling to learn how to deal with it, but quite frankly when I try to implement what I've learned it just pisses him off more. "Honey, I get that you're really upset right now. Tell you what, I'm going into the other room, and when you feel you are ready to talk about this I'll come back out and we can figure out what to do". Oh, that so does not work. He needs to spew, and me putting space between us just adds to his frustration. It's the weirdest thing too - after he blows up he becomes practically catatonic - head in hands, immobile for half an hour. I imagine on some level it is very very painful for him. Of course this is screaming "We need counseling!". He refuses. In his warped perspective, it's all my fault. Everything he is feeling is somehow my fault. I have never encountered a person so incapable of personal insight, or so uninterested in gaining personal insight. So I'm really feeling stuck; I love my husband, but I love myself too and I don't want to spend the next twenty years of my life being the target for his anger, frustration, stress, etc. If he won't get help, what am I to do?

Never wanting to take responsibility

I can relate to every word.  My husband had a huge issues with accountability and would not discuss any difficult topic.  He would blow up and then take off in the car.  Sometimes he would be gone for 24 hours or 48 hours me not know where he was or if and when he was coming back.  This would be my punishment for trying to communicate with him.  Basically he wanted to pretend everything is fine and not talk about anything.  So problems build and build w/o resolution and then you don't try to communicate because you don't want to endure the emotional punishment he will serve up to you by taking off.  So you stuff and stuff and stuff until you look in the mirror and don't even recognize yourself.  When my husband was diagnosed as an Adult after he moved in with me and if I knew what I knew now, I would have ended the relationship and should not have married him.  He never embraced his Dx. Never really thought any of this was a problem.  The more you direct them the more you become the nag or the problem.  I told our marriage counselor at the Hallowell Center that ADD seems like a death sentence for a marriage.  Get out now. Don't waste another minute of your life trying to help someone who does not want help.  My husband did not want help.  The more I tried to get him help the bigger the wedge between us.  Best of luck to you.

Not ready to throw in the towel

I am not ready to give up on our marriage just yet because the good far outweighs the bad. I know he feels remorse after an outburst, he reaches out to me, and I sense he is confused and overwhelmed by emotions he can't name. A couple of years ago he said he thought he would benefit from counseling, but right now, with the new job, I think he's overly defensive and just can't deal with the thought of a stranger probing into his psyche (as he sees it). Time will tell - I am aware of the situation and am monitoring my own emotional stability. If, after time and counseling I don't see improvement, then I will need to make the hard decision to leave. My guess is his son will soon be officially diagnosed, and a light will go on in my husband's head. That will be a turning point.

That's a huge frustration

That's a huge frustration for me as well..it is like you're arguing with someone who isn't even speaking the same language as you.

One thing I have tried very hard to change is the "you always XXX" or "you did xx or I wouldn't have done XXX" and so on. Even if he gets mad, blows up, acts like I'm speaking French, I still tell him in a very simple and short way "only you are responsible for your own behavior. No matter what I do, that does not mean you have to respond this way" MANY times he would interpret something I did or said WRONG and react with anger and by being defensive and of course it was all my fault even though his initial interpretation was WAY OFF BASE. I don't make it a federal case, I refuse to believe that he is incapable of understanding simple common damn sense, so try and make him see that he can blame me all he wants, but my opinion is that he's being unfair or he's just flat out wrong in his interpretation of my comment or action. I don't defend anything I've done, except to say "I'm sorry you took it that way, but even if you were right in your interpretation, that does not excuse your horrible reaction" and I walk away. He hears me, he knows that I'm right...and I honestly believe this because this is one area where we have improved greatly...and I honestly feel it is because I quit trying to pound home my feelings and 'fix' everything.

Many of us can relate to being blamed 100% for the issues in our marriages...and admittedly for a while I was a huge part of the problem. You seem to be one step ahead of most in that you know that your reaction to his ADD behaviors can be just as damaging to the marriage as his ADD behaviors...so congrats to you! You should be very proud of that. I understand though how tough it is to take the blow ups, even when they apologize later and you feel there is genuine remorse...it is still very hurtful. (experiencing this as I type...and we'd been doing so good for weeks!).

I admire you for being able to see the good in him, it isn't always easy. My husband and I are on the same page as far as where we are going with our marriage and we're starting behavioral therapy tomorrow...to help us both cope with ADD and it's destructive patterns. While you're still at a place in your marriage where you see the good and want to be with him, I feel it's the optimum time to do everything within your power to get him into behavioral therapy.