New to site, ADHD husband turns anger on himself, passive aggressively.

It has been wonderful to read so many stories that sound familiar. Does anyone here have experience with this? Here is an example of what happens:

I am in the kitchen doing some task, thinking my own thoughts, and my husband walks in and launches into a tirade about the tasks he must do that day complete with details about what materials he will use, where he will find them, how long the tasks will take, why he is doing them, when he last did the same task, when he will probably do them again, then remembers more things he must do as a result of doing this particular task, and on and on, ad nauseum. Meanwhile, he has not greeted me, acknowledged my existence and I feel like a vessel into which all this information that I am not interested in is being poured, causing me to feel invisible and unimportant and repelled. Yet he stands near me as if he expects me to attend to this "list" and if I do not respond, or if I respond by saying, " I'm in the middle of something, can you wait just a minute?" in a calm, normal voice, and often his response is, "Okay, I'll shut up, nobody wants to listen to me anyway, I'll just go do my work and everyone can ignore me like usual." The first thing that goes through my mind is, "Hey, wait a minute, I didn't say anything mean to you, and you're behaving as if I have said, 'Shut up, I don't want to hear it!' Besides that, you haven't even said 'Hi' or even noticed that I was doing something else!" When I have dared to actually SAY this, his response is more of the same self deprecating stuff, like, "Yeah, yeah, I'm boring you, I don't even know why you talk to me anyway, go back to what you were doing, I'll just go work."

This really disturbs me and makes me feel as if he wants me to say, "No, no, honey, you aren't boring me, don't go do work, stay here so I can listen to your list!" But that leaves me no room to say what I deserve to be able to say which is, "I'm in the middle of something, can you wait just a minute?" I am being polite. I am even willing to listen to some of his list, even if it is not interesting to me, but when he responds this way to my reasonable request, I feel like he is putting me in a bad position and making me responsible for his feelings. Wen I have pointed this out, just this way, he even says, "I do everything wrong." There is no way for me to point anything out without having to put my needs aside.

This happens when I make a request like, "Can you please put a plate in the microwave when you put an onion bagel in there?" Suddenly, it's as if I've told him he's a bad person!!! His reactions are so over the top and paint me as the bad guy. It's like he's not able to take responsibility for anything! Any suggestions?



Hi.  I don't have any

Hi.  I don't have any suggestions right now but I wanted you to know that my husband is like yours in that he turns anything potentially negative that I say about him into "It's all my fault" or "I feel so guilty" or "I can't do anything right," all of which comments seem designed to make the other person (i.e., me) feel bad for saying anything.  I also find it very frustrating that even though my husband kind of acknowledges that him reacting in this way isn't useful or productive, he also feels attacked if I suggest that he work on developing more productive emotional responses.  

If I actually think of some useful suggestions for you, I'll let you know.  Be strong!

Don't apologize for a

Don't apologize for a reasonable request. It was. Don't try to defend yourself, you didn't do anything to defend. You are being diverted.  I just read in "The Verbal Abusive Relationship" that if your arguments end up being about the WAY the communication went rather than about the argument topic, that probably you are being verbally abused and manipulated. 

What's interesting about this

What's interesting about this to me, is that when we do try to discuss this issue, he SWEARS that he heard me say whatever it is that I said in a snarky, "parental," angry, unhappy, nagging or some other negative voice. When I explain that I am often so anxious about bringing anything up that is not just something happy and comfortable, because I fear his response, that I try so extremely hard to take a deep breath, say what I need to say with the simplest of words, and be as direct as possible in as kind a way as I can. I have suggested that maybe he interprets anything I say that's not just happy or comfortable as a great criticism possibly because he always felt criticized by his dad, then he goes into the "I don't even know how to react, I'm so messed up." routine. If I say, "Hey, I'm not your Dad, I am a better person than that, I don't treat you the way he did and it hurts my feelings that you can't even see that, and I don't deserve to be treated as if I am being mean to you. When you respond that way, I feel like you can't even see me, that I'm invisible" well, of course it just brings on more!!! And what I am saying to him is not something bad about him, it is often simply something like, " I like to clean the bathroom floor before putting on a fresh rug." (after I see that he has put a fresh rug on the unmopped bathroom floor) He will respond, "I'm sorry I don't do it your way, here, I'll mop the damn floor!!" when I would gladly accept, "Oh, I'll just put it in the closet until you mop it." or "Oh, do you want to mop the floor?" or even "Oh, ok" as he puts the rug in the linen closet. What he hears is, "You jerk, why are you putting a clean rug on a dirty floor, you stupid piece of *h*t!" when I would NEVER talk to him that way.


I have an 8 year old son with ADHD and some other special needs and as I watch him grow and see how he thinks, I see how he isn't able to accept anything that could possibly be construed as help, suggestions, "we have to do this another way" or anything remotely related, because he will say, "Ok, I'm a **ckin' idiot!" even if he is doing something he has never before attempted and has not gotten it quite right, even if it is close, or very good for a beginner. Being a beginner is somehow excruciating for him. It is really sad to see them both feel this way.

Amen sister. I have the exact

Amen sister. I have the exact same problem with my husband...and daughter. Everything is taken as a criticism. Everything is me attacking them. Everything is me telling them they're stupid. With DH I just stopped reacting and taking it personally. This was a far bigger issue before than it is now with he and I. When he snaps "I'll mop the damn floor" maybe respond with "no sense in getting angry about it...the mop is in the closet" or "wow...that reaction was completely unnecessary" and then just remove yourself from the situation so that he cannot continue to rail about something senseless. I find that being very direct helps too "sorry you feel that I was calling you stupid, but I wasn't...please don't put words in my mouth or assume you know what I was thinking". The more you point out that they're making incorrect assumptions about your comments/motives the more I feel it helps. But you have to do so without reacting angrily. 

As for my DD, I'm still struggling with that one. My main hope is just to help her realize that being told "no" or being asked to do something she doesn't want to do doesn't warrant the emotional responses she has...and that accusing someone of calling her stupid (incorrectly assuming) is something she needs to stop doing. I don't fully understand why she 'goes there', I really wish I did. I know DH has a lifetime of self esteem issues that make him 'go there'...but I've finally stopped assuming responsibility for him and his incorrect assumptions about things I say or do. I tell him his perception is off from what my intention was and leave it at that. 

My husband (who's the ADDer)

My husband (who's the ADDer) is similar to yours. If he's in the wrong mood, no matter what I say is going to set him off. Plus, as you mentioned, he hears something completely different from what I'm really saying. My only advice would be to do what our counselor told us to do--which is to repeat back what the other says. It's hard to do in the moment and I will admit that we haven't really done well at it. My hubby and I are however working together to diffuse heated discussions and fights. He is trying to control his reactions to me and I'm trying to remain calm even when I want to jump down his throat. It's hard to do if you don't have buy in from your spouse though.

My only other advice would be to not take it personally and try to control your reaction. When my hubby really spins up and starts spewing all sorts of bad things about himself and others, I just try to calm him down by telling him that he isn't [insert whatever insult he may have said]. It seems to work fairly well.

In any case, hang in there. You're not alone in this!

For a while, I started

For a while, I started worrying that I really was becoming a *itch but some part of me knew and knows that I really don't talk the way he has it in his mind. When I listen to his Dad talk to him, I see it so clearly. Just yesterday, his Dad was trying to convince my husband that he "grew out of" ADHD when he was explaining how medication at the age of 52 is helping. It is not the Ritalin of his youth (which he said he would sometimes hide because he hated the taste, and his Dad would say, 'See? Don't you feel better?' when he had not even taken it, just pulled himself tighter together so he wouldn't get in trouble.) He says now, the medication he is taking twice a day helps keep him from feeling depressed and angry all the time and seems to help keep him on track. Except this thing. He is so ready to hear the negative, he hears it at every spoken word. I tell people I am the optimist in the family. I will give somebody groceries and secretly buy the meal of the person behind me at Taco Bell, and if he knows about it, he says that people will just take it for granted, or that they should work hard like he does to get what they need, or that the sleeping homeless guy I just left a sandwich and cup of hot coffee for won't even notice. He seems afraid to lose what he works for all the time.

As for my 8 year old son, it is something tied in with his whole makeup that makes it hard to be a beginner, partly also because his IQ is 147 and thinking about machines and logic come so easily, those problems are almost effortless. But when it comes to tone of voice, social cues, facial expressions, and those kinds of organic subtleties, his delays make those things so hard. If he admits he was wrong, he lets everyone see his insecurity that hides behind his projection of perfection-he must at all costs hold up that image of doing it right and being perfect, and it's even hard for him to admit to himself that he might not be able to make the basketball go into the hoop, or do a cartwheel. The mistake automatically makes him "an idiot" or "stupid" and he has little tolerance for mistakes in others, too. Thank goodness he and I both have therapists, that's what saves us both.


Hate To Be **itty Here

These things are actually ODD.

Same thing as my husband n the boy.

Hard to even comprehend how a normal conversation is construed as criticism, but it is.

Also, ODD obviously has degrees like ADD. It was once thought to always relate to criminal behavior, which it doesn't in general.

Just mostly sucks since the communication is so much more impaired with this add on to the add.

I'm sorry is all I can say.

Hurts bad to have the one you love to be so oppisitional.



That's an interesting

That's an interesting thought...We had considered ODD in my son's case, even some other related things, but it's interesting to apply it to my husband. Hmmm. I do know they both for sure have ADHD, have some similarities and differences as well. I just bought the adhd marraige book and I'm starting to read it. When I'm done, I will show it to him so he can read it if he wants to. It does seem like we are in a time of flux and change because last week we had a long discussion about the issues I bring to the marriage (not to be discounted!) There is a definite place where the issues bump up against one another. I am still trying to define my boundaries. I have been closed up and distant for so long, it's the room mates raising a kid together  thing with us. I am trying to be more open and we have agreed on a certain amount of connection until more feels safe, if it ever does. We'll see. At least it is being discussed. I do talk about my marriage all the time in therapy with my own therapist.

wow. that video was right on.

wow. that video was right on. I need my H to watch this. Broke my heart about my son, who has no real friends and hasn't since 3rd grade. the Anger is THE biggest thing that I have issue with in my marriage, i have told him i could live with the forgetfullnes, the mess, and so many other things if he wasn't always angry, if he made me laugh once in a while. I need to watch more of R.B's segments. Thanks

This all too familiar. I have

This all too familiar. I have said to him numerous times that he takes everything as a criticism and he over reacts to the slightest of frustration. I can say the grass is green and he can somehow turn that into an attack on him. Its mind boggling. he is always so defensive, between his not paying attention to what i am saying or his negative reaction when he may listen is very very hard to have a conversation with him. I have pretty much given up speaking to him unless its necessary - dinner is ready or i need to go to the store - no actual conversation is possible.  He will also on occasion just start spewing out all this 'stuff' that he has to do....that i don't give two cents about, as the stuff he 'has' to do are really the things he wants to do...its not I have to cut the grass, or take out the trash, its things that relate to his hobbies that take up almost all of his non-working hours, i need to get this part or fix this thingy..

Most of my communication with my H is now via email, its sad but I feel if i put a comment in email then he can't hear a "tone" of negativity in my voice. Definately ODD...and nothing is ever his fault...everyone else has the problem, everyone else is the A-hole, very condescending and judgemental of everyone but himself.

I see my son becoming ODD, I feel it is very much related to how his father behaves, not only is he a bad role model but he attacks his son also (verbally), which sets him off, which further sets my H off and round and round we go.  My son rarely explodes when talking to me, and usually on the occasions when he does its because I have lost my temper and yelled at him first for not doing something he was told 12 times. I also really only every see the ODD reaction when the meds wears off in the evening and his father has NO patience for how he behaves unmedicated.  Its a bit hypocritical as he doesn't take his own meds and behaves almost exactly the same way.

Sorry I do not have any suggestions, I'm in the same boat with you. My H doesn't take his meds regularly which seem to help control that split second impulse to hit the roof. Other than the meds, he refuses to go to therapy other than his DR to get the scripts that he doesn't take anyway. I have tried family counseling and he just doesn't bother showing up.  I think my H has been in this pattern for all his life he either can't change or doesn't want to....and considering he thinks everyone else is to blame he doesn't seem to think he needs to change.

Today i was thinking that I am going to spend the rest of my life unhappy if i stay in this marriage, yet on occasion i see glimpses of the man he could be, on the rare occasion he remembers 'OH hey I have kids', and actually spends time with them he can be good with them (as long as they are kept in perfect line), and I hate to take the kids away from those few moments...but are those few moments worth the 90% of day to day crap to deal with ?? 

Heard It Before, Yep!

Iron, I can totally relate to what you're posting here. My DP (ADHD) does the same thing...  quite often with his hobbies which I can find even more infuriating since it has little to do with making the house run or the relationship comfortable. 

I've found it best to just say "Wow - that sounds like a lot. I'm happy to listen or help if you need it right after I wrap this up." It's got a 50/50 success rate, but it does defuse the anxiety that was just plopped in the middle of the room and let's them know that we're there. 

Also, if I haven't totally gone into "resentment mode" from a bad conversation, I'll follow up later saying "Hey, how did X turn out?" and do a bit of reflective listening. Again, about a 50/50 success rate (i.e. not going down the self-defeating rabbit hole).


It's just so nice to know

It's just so nice to know that this is totally an ADHD thing and not me being defective because I can't deal well with it. I'm so glad to hear everyone's experience with this!