My ADHD husband is very critical

Hi everyone,

I've been struggling for years with my husband's constant criticism. I'm wondering if it's related to his ADHD.

He insists his criticisms are just "helpful tips." When I do something "wrong," he'll correct me and tell me he just wants to show me a better way of doing it. This can be everything from how I organize the bills to how I fold laundry to how I parent our son. If I say the wrong word when we're talking, he'll correct it no matter the relevance to our conversation. If I ever make an impulse purchase, he scolds me even though he spends countless dollars on his many hobbies. It feels like he thinks I'm useless, impulsive and always doing things wrong. I've talked to him a number of times about this but it always comes down to him telling me not to be so sensitive; that this is his way of helping me.

I have talked to a counselor who characterizes his behavior as abusive and in many ways I have to agree. The outcomes are the same from my perspective. But I don't think it comes from an abusive place in him. I hope not anyway. The only reservation I have about that statement is that I believe suffers from low self-esteem due to his difficulties with ADHD. Could he be criticizing me to make himself feel better? I understand that is common among abusers.

He has many frustrating ADHD issues but I believe he is a good person and I want to be a supportive partner for him and help him overcome his issues. But my feelings are hurt on a constant basis with these criticisms. A childish part of me wants to say, "Hey, I'm doing all of this work around the house and your business, in addition to my own work, to make up for your ADHD. And you have the nerve to criticize HOW I do it?" But I am making every effort to be mature and constructive.

Have any of you experienced this? Is this a common trait amongst ADDers?

Thank you.


my thoughts...

I don't know if that's typical of ADHD or not, but my husband does that some. I guess I just let it roll off..I notice it but it doesn't get to me like it seems to get to you. Maybe it's coming off differently to you than it does to me? I don't know. I'll be washing the dishes and he'll remind me not to put the knives in the dishwasher, or "make sure you oil the cutting board, or it won't last very long." Sometimes I just tell him, "I'm doing this my way..if you'd like it done differently, then you can do it!" He's also somewhat OCD, so that could be part of it. For him, if it can't be done perfectly, then why even bother doing it? Luckily for the most part, the chores he doesn't do, he doesn't get very OCD about, but I do try and respect his opinon on things if it's something that I don't know much car maintenance, and care for electronics..As far as parenting our kids go..he definitely voices his opinion, but he respects mine as well..I mean he's a parent too, so he can voice his concerns. He knows I don't want to spank our kids, so we do everything we can to avoid it and have successfully from the beginning. Are you a stay at home are you with your son all day and your hubs only sees him a little, because that would bother me, if he didn't show much interest in the kids, but felt the need to criticize my parenting.

Pbartender's picture

I've been accused of this often enough...

I've been accused (using a wide variety of choice phraseology) of this often enough (and my suspected ADHD daughter does it constantly), and now I can see how it happens...

In my instance, I'm trying to be helpful by offering tips and information that I've discovered to let some one do something better.  I'm a "fixer" and a "troubleshooter" by nature, and so I always feel compelled to offer advice, if I see a way to do something better.  The trouble is often the advice isn't asked for, and the matter-of-fact way I deliver it often unknowingly comes off in an arrogant "know-it-all" sort of way.  I'm not trying to be a jerk...  I just don't realize what my "help" looks like until after I've already blundered it out.

Now, when I get the urge, I'm trying to get myself in the habit of asking if they want help or advice first...  "Can I give you tip?"  ...and if they decline, it's like getting permission to let it go, making it easier for me to let them do it their way.  It seems to work better.



Thanks, pbartender. I do

Thanks, pbartender. I do believe he's just trying to help but it feels hurtful. I have a funny mixture of frustration/anger/humor/hurt when I feel like I'm doing my best and he comes along and watches and offers his advice! I'll get the courage up to ask him to try your strategy about asking first. Maybe that would help us both. I would imagine he feels hurt, too, when I don't always welcome his well-intentioned advice.

Thanks for your reply. I

Thanks for your reply. I think I need to find a way to let it roll off me better. He's honestly a great person and a great parent. He's thoughtful, in that he thinks (overthinks?) about everything. But where I struggle is when I tell myself to let it go and not worry about the little criticisms, I find myself just telling myself his opinion doesn't matter. Maybe a defense mechanism or something? I need to find way to ignore the little stuff but still value the important opinions. It's hard for me to tell myself to let some stuff go, but respect and deal with other stuff. I'm working on it, though.

Just the same

Wow like the others, I deal with the same issues. I have been told numerous times "how to load the dishwasher correctly" and now it's his responsibility. I was even told "how to close the car door correctly" right at the beginning of our relationship. Should have been a sign to me! He's always rearranging things to something different to how I have it and it's crazy! I don't really have anything helpful to say, I'm very new to realizing this but wanted to sympathize with you!

It's not just ADDers who do this

I find myself living with my daughter and son-in-law after leaving my ADHD husband. He has no problem telling me I'm loading the dishwasher wrong. I say, but the dishes are clean and I've been loading dishwashers since before you were born. Makes no difference. My daughter has him doing all the laundry because she "did it wrong" according to him!

Maybe your husband has some OCD too. Not an uncommon combination, although it must be a difficult one. My ADD daughter (different daughter) and grandson both have that.

I can't really offer you much but sympathy.



I understand what you are

I understand what you are saying.  I have the same experiences with my husband.  He has criticized just about everything I do.  And yes, I have wanted to yell back... Are you freaking kidding me?  You do nothing around here and you have the nerve to criticize how I do it?  It never ceased to amaze me how he could play on the computer, not do anything to help, and then come out to the kitchen for a drink and proceed to tell me how I wasn't doing something correctly.

I have expressed to him how hurtful his critical comments are but he says he is just trying to be helpful.  The strange part is that I believe him when he says he is only trying to be helpful.  It's like he doesn't get the big picture.  He doesn't see how hurtful it is to constantly criticize someone especially when they aren't doing the chore to begin with.

He has gotten slightly better.  For one, I've said when you do "x" you can do it how you want, but right now I am and I will do it how it makes sense to me.  I've also used if you don't like how I do "x" then you can handle it from now on.  I'm not opposed to hearing an opinion or a suggestion on how something might work better.  But don't tell me how to load a dishwasher when you never do a dish.

For years, I was constantly told how something could taste better if I cooked it this way or that way.  I didn't like it, told him it was hurtful, but it was like he just couldn't stop himself or he knew I would take it because someone still had to cook for the kids.  Once the children were older and pretty much cooking for themselves, etc... I stopped cooking all together.  I only cook on special occasions like holidays otherwise the kids or he will prepare dinner.  When asked about my cooking... well, they never liked what I cooked so why bother and I don't.  He criticized how much food I packed in his cooler for lunch, so guess what.  I even explained,  I would rather pack him too much and a vast variety as opposed to thinking I hadn't packed him enough or he may not feel like eating just this.  He still complained.  It was my fault he was over eating because I was packing too much food.  Well, I haven't packed a lunch for him since.  He started to criticize how I did laundry recently.  I looked at him then reminded him that I haven't cooked in years (with the occasional exception) and no longer pack his lunches, does he really want to try to find time to wash his clothes too.  Of course, he said he would do his laundry, but I noticed he dropped it and hasn't said a word about his laundry since.

Your story is so accurate to

Your story is so accurate to my own, I actually questioned for a second if I wrote this post and forgot! I have often wondered if my husband acts that way due to his own self esteem issues. Regardless why it happens, does not excuse that it is abusive and I believe he must take ownership of it and change his behavior. Once I told him that I was terrified to have children with him because God forbid if something were to happen to them he would immediately resort to blaming me for it even if it had nothing to do with me, and that I would not be able to survive him blaming me for something tragic.  He really thought about that and acknowledged he was bad about blaming me, and stopped for a while, but gradually it has come back, but I guess not as bad as it used to be. Sometimes when he gets in a tirade I will say to him, "yeah, I know, you'll find whatever way you can to make this my fault however unrealistic  it is." I know that is sarcastic, but sometimes it works. I hate being sarcastic. I wish we could just talk and resolve things. I always feel like I'm arguing with an extremely hardheaded child. I hate it. 

Hmmm, I actually feel the

Hmmm, I actually feel the exact same way. My husband thinks he is helping everyone by controlling them. For example, just this week he is now extremely mad at my dad because my dad went out and bought a new TV without consulting my husband on which one is the best. It only really bothers me when he goes on and on about how I should do my hair differently and then when I do, it is never good enough. And he's bald! He has no room to talk about my hair! Maybe it's hair-envy. I think that I've come to the realization that I will never please him and he will always find something "wrong" with me, no matter what I do.