My ADHD is not the only problem in our marriage

I'm brand new to the forum.  I'm 35, married for 4 years, one child.

It was actually my husband who found this resource through the New York Times wellness blog. I am the partner with ADHD. I'm glad the topic "Women with ADHD" is here, because it seems that most of the other posts are about husbands with ADHD, and let's face it, in this society husbands already do less than their fair share, so those poor wives are getting a double whammy and are understandably frustrated. (The level of their hate and vitriol is still a little shocking to me, however.)

Not that my husband isn't angry with me - he is, on a regular basis. But after another ridiculous fight this morning, I think we both realized that it can't go on like this. We independently started seeking information. He looked up advice on how to deal with an ADHD spouse, and I looked up how to deal with a verbally abusive spouse. I think our marriage has both of these problems, and they feed off of each other. I believe that even if I didn't have problems with attention and memory, we would still have marital strife because of the way he views the world (everyone is against me, everyone else gets special treatment and I have to suffer, etc.) and also because of my inability to trust and be open.

I have trouble forming close relationships, though I have many casual friends and acquaintances. I believe the ADHD is partly to blame-- more specifically, the anger it seems to cause in the people close to me.  I was a constant source of disappointment to my parents. They did not have an easy life (still don't). My brother is developmentally disabled, so of course most of my parents' attention had to center on taking care of him and making sure he was getting good care and proper treatment from his teachers and therapists.  I tried to help them as much as I could, but I was only a child and couldn't understand everything.

I was a smart kid. I'm sure it seemed to my parents that life was grossly unfair. Here one child was given so many gifts - good health, intelligence - and the other child was given so little.  When I didn't use my god-given talents to their full potential, it was like I was slapping them in the face.  I was bright and eager to learn, and generally got good grades, but was always "shooting myself in the foot" (my dad's words) by forgetting to do my assignments, daydreaming, and doing other things that prevented me from achieving the greatest heights. My mom, who to this day is a constant whirlwind of cleaning and organizing, was at her wits' end when it came to my messiness and absentmindedness.  One day she made me sit down and write 100 times "I will remember to turn off the light when I leave the room." After enduring a lecture about how my lack of consideration for others was unacceptable, I already truly felt awful about the electrical costs I was incurring, and the burden to my family. So, what did I do when I was finished writing my penance 100 times? I got up from the table, left the room to go tell my mom, and forgot to turn out the light.  I'm surprised I lived to tell the tale.

So, I get it. I know the things I do (or forget to do) are almost comical in their brazen idiocy, and I know they must make people crazy. It's natural to assume that I just don't care about other people. But I do care - I care deeply and I always have. The cumulative effect of all that anger and criticism has made me into a fearful person who feels unable to share myself with anyone. I feel that if they find out what I'm really like, they will hate me.  At the same time, I always craved intimacy. I wanted someone to love me no matter what. I wanted someone who could fill the empty hole left when my family rejected me over and over.  This led to a lot of bad relationships, because I would get involved with men I didn't really love or who weren't good for me, just because I craved their attention and affection.

In my husband, I've found one of the good guys. I was gradually able to open up to him and let him get to know me.  We love each other and we are both so in love with our little boy. But tensions have been rising. We have the typical couple arguments over who's doing the housework, who's taking care of our son, whose turn is it to do xyz. I feel like I have to do everything. So does he. I really, really do work hard and try to remember things by writing notes to myself, etc. This year I started on Adderall because I started to feel like my work and home responsibilities (I work full time and I'm damn good at my job) were getting to be too much for me to keep track of. At work, I cannot afford to forget things, so I work hard to focus and have several levels of fail-safe reminders for everything. It is exhausting but I get it done. At home, I let more things slide.  But with a baby, you can't make as many mistakes as you can when it's just you and your husband. I felt like I had an undue burden of the child care responsibilities, so we eventually worked it out so I'm only doing about 2/3 of it.

But my husband gets really stressed out, and when he does, he goes into this anger cycle where he points out everything I fail to do around the house, even if I have worked hard to get better at that particular thing. It's like once I did something wrong, it's forever and can never be remedied. He blames me for things that he himself forgot or misplaced, because it's easy to assume I'm the one who accidentally threw out an important piece of mail or forgot to pay the day care.  Until today, I don't think I realized how much my absentmindedness angers him. But he really is angry. He feels that I don't care, that I am not supporting him through a stressful time at his job by making sure things are taken care of.  But I think he realizes that he can't do this to himself and to me. And I know I can't live in a climate of fear over the next time he will suddenly lose his head. We are ready to work on this, but it's such a tangled web that it's hard to know which issues to tackle first, or how to proceed.

Thanks for listening, and any advice would be appreciated.