Passive aggressive

When my newly-diagnosed ADD husband and I were at our marriage counselor this week, I was a little surprised at how matter-of-factly she spoke to him about his passive aggressive behavior.

I never thought about it before. And I felt really stupid. He is. And over almost 24 years, I was pulled into the role of, first, the person who didn't want to "rock the boat," and then eventually the person who expressed the anger and bitterness. I was trying to be a good wife. I let him change who I was. Who I am.

This could be a unique situation to us, but is passive aggression related to ADD? I looked around and couldn't find anything firm, but I found one blog post from a mom who said her children were passive aggressive as adults, she believed, because as ADD kids, they were always stifled in expressing their anger, were always bailed out of situations, and relied too much on her, which turned to resentment. She actually was mourning that their relationships now were bad because of how she handled things.

When I read the forum posts here, at first I felt validated that I wasn't the only one in the world doing this. Now they just break my heart. Why would so many spouses want to hurt the people who are--or should be--the most important people in the world to them? ADD doesn't mean they can't think. If you treat people badly, you get "bad" back in return. Why would they do it?

I just realized I'm being very vague in what I'm talking about. Specific things that I've experienced over the years are not having my ideas taken seriously, not getting what I ask for--or maybe getting it 10 years later, never having him take responsibility for his actions (I didn't understand, I didn't see it, I didn't realize), dealing with silence and sullenness instead of getting to talk something out--and paying dearly even if it turned out to be a misunderstanding, getting blamed because I "took it wrong," having things I cared about be sabotaged so I'd give them up. I could look directly into his eyes with my eyes filled with tears and ask "please" or "please don't." It didnt' matter.

Could it be that growing up with ADD leads to passive aggression that grown-ups don't even realize they use as a coping mechanism or a way to manipulate their worlds?

He actually asked me if I could find a link between the two. Is there one?

Passive Aggressive

I don't know if there is a correlation or causal relationship between having adhd and being passive aggressive but I can tell you that my husband who has adhd has had a history of appearing to be very passive aggressive.  On reflection and learning a little more about adhd, I am not sure how much of it is true passive aggressiveness.  I think it may be more a combination of impulsivity and disorganization.  My husband always says, "yes" in the moment not thinking at the time whether it's possible for him to follow through - whether he has another commitment etc.  I think he does this because his first thought is that he does not want to disappoint and then he acts on the impulse before thinking it through.  When the time comes to follow through and he has a scheduling conflict  or some other reason why he can't follow through then my husband seems to panic and instead of just admitting to screwing up tries to back out by lying or acting like the other party got it wrong etc...  Case in point -  on a Tuesday my son pestered my husband to take him to Toys R Us on Wednesday.  On Wednesdays we always have an exercise class but my husband didn't think of it at the time so made the promise to my son.  Wednesday came and without remembering about his promise my husband went off to exercise class.  When he got home my son wanted to go to Toys R Us.  By that point my husband was tired and didn't want to go plus it was dinnertime and I was irritated that he was going to be screwing up family dinner especially given that if he had just thought it through he would have realized that Thursday would have been an ideal day.  In the past my husband would have likely lied and denied any promise.  Now with a recent diagnosis of adhd and enhanced self awareness he waivered a little but in the end admitted the promise and tried to negotiate for the Thursday with my son.  That was a no go for my son who also has adhd and is currently in the midst of a huge hyper focus re modifying nerf guns.  Dinner was delayed but improvement was made on the apparent passive aggressive front.  I believe true passive aggressiveness is when a person makes a commitment and concurrently has absolutely no intention of following through.  I suspect this is different from many adhd people who when they make a commitment fully intend to follow through but get lost along the way or end up between a rock and a hard place when it's time to follow through because they have a scheduling conflict or some such thing. 



My add husband is currently

My add husband is currently following a band around on tour with a few of his buddies. They camp at night after the shows. I have asked him numourous times to please check in with me when he get's back from the shows to camp so that i know he's alive. I have a lot of anxiety about his trip, and have expressed it to him quite a few times, i thought he understood how i worry. He has yet to check in when i have asked him to. With excuses like "my phone was acting weird, sorry, that's all i can say". That's all you can say? Not good enough. Doesn't it matter to him at all that i am up all night worrying, waiting to hear he's ok. Isn't my feelings and worry enough for him to get his head out of his a** to give me some peace and a good nights sleep? He says he doesn't want me to worry the entire time he's gone, it'll ruin his trip. But i explain his actions will affect whether or not i worry. I take his passive aggressiveness at not checking in with me as an insult. We seperated a month ago for about two weeks. He made so many promises to get me to come back home. But once home he started hyperfocusing on this trip and none of those promises have been kept. I understand he doesn't want to seem 'uncool' in front of his freinds, since they have no one to check in with. But we've been married 7 years now. Where is the mutal respect?

I'm right there with all of

I'm right there with all of you on this subject.  My husband is a "yes" man, too and also a promiser of the world.  I used to help out alot in getting him through "his" commitments but I try not to anymore as it has worn me slap out.  Now, I take any promise as empty, so I no longer get my hopes up and if something he promises happens then it happens.  My husband is also good at coming up with excuses why something isn't happening.  I'm beginning to feel insulted, too and the little bit of respect I have gained back with his diagnosis of ADHD is fast going away.  Not good!!!! 

to newfdogswife

would talking on the phone again help reorient him a bit?

Melissa, Perhaps.  I would


Perhaps.  I would like to wait a couple of weeks and see if things change.  His last day at his place of employment is Tuesday, June 30th.  I'm hoping that after this has passed, he will be able to relax a little and not be so overwhelmed.  Unfortunately, he has procrastinated on getting the office ready for closure and is anxious as he is now down to the wire.      

Long before my ADD husband

Long before my ADD husband was diagnosed I recognized his passive aggressive behavior. It took me a while to see the pattern and I still don't really understand his motives. I've decided he just likes to tell people what they want to hear. There is no thought of any follow thorough to back up what he said. If I point it out to him there is always an excuse even when it doesn't make any sense. Here's a ridiculous example. We decide to go look at a house. We're driving down a country road (so, there's no traffic). He's driving and I've got the map. When I tell him to make a right at the next right he says he can't because there is someone behind us and misses the turn. We end up at our destination anyway and decide that the house is not worth the drive. I'm puzzled by his excuse that there was a car behind us and assume that he never wanted to go look at the house in the first place or maybe he changed his mind on the road. Either way, he didn't verbalize those thoughts leaving me completely baffled about his excuse. Back then, I did try to understand what that was all about but finally gave up as the problem was always me.

Is he manipulative? Indirectly I think, because he can't seem to keep track of a conversation or come up with a strategy. It seems he just wants to get his way and feels justified or deserving so any excuse will do. If I call him on it when it doesn't make sense, I'm causing trouble again. 

I've tried my best to keep it together and have the doctor bills to prove it, stress, high blood pressure, depression. I was told to adapt and work around him which I did because it seemed to help. But we just tread water and barely financially. I am not the gal I once was, hopeful, energetic. After all these years in survival mode, I'm exhausted.

He doesn't do it to be mean, it's just life how he sees it. That was before the meds. He's currently on Concerta combined with an antidepressant and is able to complete his thoughts now which helps a lot. Still, it's a big adjustment and I don't trust him. There is no $ for counseling and it's nice to find a site for us. Guess I'm not alone...

Passive Aggressive Behavior

It is my observation that many ADD spouses do, in fact, exhibit passive agressive behaviors (and that many non-ADD spouses exhibit aggressive behaviors, without the passive).  Here is a small excerpt from the Wikipedia explanation of P-A behavior, and a link to the page, which should be helpful for anyone interested in this topic.

Excerpted from Wikipedia (link here to full copy)

Passive-aggressive behavior is passive, sometimes obstructionist resistance to following through with expectations in interpersonal or occupational situations. It can manifest itself as learned helplessness, procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible. It is a defense mechanism, and (more often than not) only partly conscious….Merely being passive-aggressive isn't a disorder but a behavior — sometimes a perfectly rational behavior, which lets you dodge unpleasant chores while avoiding confrontation. It's only pathological if it's a habitual, crippling response reflecting a pervasively pessimistic attitude.

When the behaviors are part of a person's personality "disorder" or personality style, repercussions are not usually immediate, but instead accumulate over time as the individuals affected by the person come to recognize the disavowed aggression coming from that person. People with this personality style are often quite unconscious of their impact on others, and thus may be genuinely dismayed when held to account for the inconvenience or discomfort caused by their passive-aggressive behaviors. In that context, they fail to see how they might have provoked a negative response, so they feel misunderstood, held to unreasonable standards, and/or put-upon. This starts a new negative cycle, when the passive aggressive person "defends himself" from others' perceived stringent demands and retaliate with more passivity and unconscious sabotage.

So what do we do?

How do we handle things when we know it's a passive aggressive (though unknowingly so) situation? Call them on it? Ignore it? Ive come to the realization that I can't count on anything my husband says, as either he's lying, thinks he's going to do somthing and forgets or is just answering to "get me off his back". To me, it seems it's just i'll have to parent him more to get things done (which I am trying desperatly to stop doing, it really only make things worse). Or ignore things that i deem important to me.

what do we do?

I think I've come to realize this is the real issue I struggle with. Nothing I ask for, no need I express, is fulfilled, or if it is, it's after my wanting or needing it is gone. Whether it's passive aggressive, the ADD, or something else, it comes across the same--If I want something, I have to do it myself. Difficult when it comes to things like intimacy or romance. Those things I do without.

His needs however, are fulfilled, by hook or by crook, or by me, just to keep peace.

Again, why am I married?

The Chicken or the Egg?

I'm new to this forum, and I have found it SO helpful in trying to learn all that I can about the diagnosis of ADHD in Adults and what that looks like in a marriage, or in fact, any relationship that a person is involved in. In May of 2009, I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 27. It felt sooo re-assuring to see a reason for why I am so scatter-brained and why I feel like I'm working so hard to accomplish tasks that others seem to have no problem doing, etc. All the symptoms seemed to fit, and I happily allowed myself to be labelled an adult with ADHD and be put on Adderall XR to help with the "symptoms" of forgetfulness, confusion, careless driving, not being able to finish my thoughts, and all that jazz. But, recently I have been talking to many of my friends and a few of my family members who have been diagnosed by THEIR psychiatrists with Adult ADHD, and "thank goodness," they say, "I have a REASON why I feel all these things and have issues in my marriage because of them...(etc)." In their stories, I hear my story, and in their spouse's stories, my husband's story.

I thought it was all fine and good, except that two things cause unrest within me: 1) Adult ADHD is supposed to occur in only one out a large number of people in any large circle of acquaintenances; and 2) Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder is not only closely related to Adult ADHD, but also the "symptoms" and "behaviours" are frighteningly common in MY behaviour in most situations AND in all the other people I have been talking to that have been diagnosed with Adult ADHD. The only reason I find this so disturbing is because I KNOW from personal experience how good it feels to be told that there is a reason and a treatment for the ADHD symptoms and behaviours, but how HARMFUL it is to all your relationships--marriage, family, close friends, employer/employee, etc.-- when you stop there in getting to know your own behaviours and interactions and working towards changing them. The question for me, then, is like that of the Chicken and the Egg: "Which came first in my development? The ADHD or the PAPD (or some version of both of those on the spectrum they both have)?"

Many would say that it doesn't really matter as long as you get treated for ONE of them...BUT, after reading these posts, I feel like it's ABSOLUTELY a necessary question to ask if not for your own sake in finding the right treatment that allows you to love and be loved, then for the sake of the non-ADHD spouses, who (like mine) feel like they're banging their head against the wall sometimes with me and just try OVER and OVER to love me, but can't find a way around my self-destructive "symptoms".

I know these truths from personal experience: It's not fair to myself and it's DEFINITELY not fair to my spouses to just say, "Oh thank goodness I have a way to function in life with medication for ADHD, now I can rest easy and live a more productive life!" . Nor is it fair to either for me to say, "Well, I guess I've just always known better when I've forgotten appointments, hit those parked cars, mucked up that project at work because my sub-conscious was lashing out in hidden anger towards the people involved to undermine the situation and help gain me the control (the premise behind PAPD)."

Am I just supposed to get one diagnosis treated and then, exhibit all the same symptoms as a result of the other diagnosis all the while, not seeing any forward movement in my own journey to experiencing love and wholeness, and let my spouse wrack his brains in the constant battle between loving/forgiving me and lecturing/distrusting me??? NO, I want to be responsible for the behaviours and "symptoms" I have developed over the many years of being either ADHD or PAPD and the results of those for my frustrated spouse! There has to be relief from ALL these symptoms and behaviours in me, and there has to be a way to decipher one diagnosis from the other!

So, that's why I ask myself....which came first like the Chicken or the Egg? And how the blazes can I find out without my psychiatrist throwing more pills at me?? Woah, this is a really long post, it's my first. I guess I had a lot on my mind to unload when I hesitantly joined this forum. Apologies...anyone have any thoughts?? Cheers.


I stumbled on this website by accident and it has been a godsend to me.  I have been married for 27 years to a man who never quite stepped up to the plate in his obligations. I took care of virtually everything. After going to marital counseling (alone of course) I came to the conclusion that my husband was passive aggressive (his sister is the same way - her husband left her in desperation when their son turned 18) I read everything I could on passive-agressiveness (not that much out there) Today I stumbled on an ADHD site and realized that my husband exhibited quite of few of those symptoms too. I do believe that ADHD causes a person to be passive aggressive to cope.  The previous posts described my life to a t. I have 2 daughters age 18 and 12.  I have tried to stay in the relationship but my husband does nothing to help himself. But the onus of breaking up our family will be on my back.  But I don't know how long I can continue life as it is. I am approaching 50 and I don't want to live the rest of my life like I have lived the first half. I am not good and calling my husbands hand on his behavior. Also he is a very good passive aggressive and very hard to discuss anything with. The real me has all but disappeared. He never compliments me and if anything nitpicks at everything.  Anyway I will be following this website closely. I have finally found a home for my problems