Quit picking on me!

Hi everyone,

Just joined the site this morning after a particularly grating interaction with my husband.  He was playing with a cat toy (like a tennis ball, but smaller) and started throwing it at me.  I was reading the news at the time, so of course I didn't catch it.  It hit my shin, which really hurt!  (I admit that I can be a wimp, but I think most would agree that a tennis ball to the shin is unpleasant.)  I told him that it hurt and tossed it off of me.  He picked the ball up and threw it at me again, saying that he was just trying to teach me to catch.  Again, it hurt, and I became visibly angry.  I asked him to stop throwing the ball at me.  He replied that he was tossing it at me, not throwing it.  To demonstrate his point, he then threw the ball across the room at the wall; it made a loud bang and ricocheted around.  Note that anything I said indicating that I would like him to stop was countered with some way to blame or dismiss me. 

He has a habit of picking on me and others in his family.  When we first got together I thought he was just playful- I've begun to feel more like he's a bully.  He says he's just playing around, but it often escalates to a point where the target has to pitch a fit to get him to stop.  He does this to his nieces and nephews & his brother, too.  He has a tendency to grab me roughly- when we first got up this morning he reached over and grabbed my leg close to my knee which was also quite painful.  Again, I might just be a wuss, but he's bigger than me.  Regardless, shouldn't he stop when I indicate that his actions are painful?  It seems like when I (or anyone else) indicates that what he's doing is bothersome, he just escalates.  It seems really gleeful, like he gets a kick out of getting a rise out of people.  He also grabs my breasts (or other locations) at random times; if our marriage were more amicable I wouldn't be so bothered by this.  I feel constantly disrespected, though, so it really bothers me when he just grabs my chest out of nowhere.  It's not done in a nice way, either- it's like he's a freaking ninja.  Please don't say that I should be flattered.  This is my body- I have a right to my space and respect. 

I know this was really just a little interaction, but I'm at my wits' end.  Is this something that others with ADHD partners have experienced?  What can I do?  We've gone to counseling but had little time for it in the past two to three months (we're both graduate students, which is a topic for another forum entirely).  He said then that he's just trying to get attention, so the counselor and I asked him to talk to me about it rather than picking on me to get a reaction.  For a while he did that, but he's back to his old ways.  I'm trying to be understanding, but I can't help feeling like he's a jerk for being this way- it's one thing to have a lot of energy, but to actually get a kick out of hitting me with things?  Seriously, what the hell?

It's not just physical, he often teases me and gives me a hard time.  Sometimes it's just playful, but often he picks on me for things we've have arguments about or things that I'm sensitive about.  I feel like certain things should be off limits; sometimes the comments really hurt.  I'll admit that I'm a pretty sensitive person; I don't think that relationships should be adversarial.  Shouldn't we be nice to one another?  Is my idea of marriage just unrealistic?  We both come from rough homes, so we don't really know what to reasonably expect from a healthy relationship.  Again, we're trying counseling, but our schedules are restrictive.  I'm looking to hear whether this is something I can attribute to the ADHD (or some other issue) or if this is a red flag.  How much "picking" can a relationship contain before it becomes unhealthy?  Am I being too sensitive or demanding?

I understand that a person with ADHD (he's diagnosed- takes Adderall during the week but not on weekends or on breaks.  Part of the issue is that his resting heart rate is really fast, even w/out the amphetamine.  Side topic: has anyone dealt with this?  Any advice?  Maybe beta blockers?) deserves understanding and a bit of slack.  My issue is that I'm not sure whether this is the ADHD or just him being a jerk.  I've been dealing with this with no one to really talk to for a while, so I've got a lot of pent up resentment.  My apologies if I sound unnecessarily snarky or harsh.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



It sounds like the school kid

It sounds like the school kid who gets into trouble because he needs attention. So the teacher spends more time dealing with him and giving him attention, to the detriment to the rest of the class. Just pushing buttons. Also, if one has anger issues, it manifests itself in hurting others to relieve his own pain/anger. Do you ever end up in tears? What is his response, is it remorseful or does he come off as smug? It could very well be bully's behavior for want of attention.

However.... what you describe that comes close to ADHD is the lack of modulation/regulation of everything -- their voice gets too loud in your face, their music is cranked two notches too high, their opinions are stronger than necessary, their touch is too hard, their play is too intense, their tickles go deep into muscle tissue, their massage or pressure is too rough (I was the only partner in the entire Lamaze class who was yelping in pain from dh massage, instructor told him to stop).

I also see juvenile way of showing affection with clumsy touching like poking and prodding at the partner's body parts. It almost comes off as coarse and vulgar.

Can you talk to him about lightening his touch by a given percentage that he'll understand? I have asked my husband to either bring it down a notch, or please lower it by 50%, 25%, etc... it is more like a reference that my dh can follow without problem...

It's definitely like a school kid.

I agree- it feels a lot like dealing with a kid.  I usually get angry rather than tearful, and then he says I'm too sensitive, etc.  Thinking about it now, that's probably not the best way to handle it.  The one time that I did cry (after a snarky offhanded comment), he just stopped talking to me and stayed quiet for the rest of the evening...  I like the idea of asking him to take it down a quantified amount- I'll try that in the future.  He's definitely too loud, too rough, like you mentioned.  I'm glad to hear others are experiencing this, too!  Thanks for your advice.


Sorry, I am wincing in painful recognition here. My STBX did the same things, teasing until others would get really upset, or sticking his hands in my shirt even when I told him I didn't like it. He would "tease" me as well. 

I think that ADHD can cause two things: difficulty in "remembering" from time to time (so that it is possible that each time he does something like this to you, it is like a "new" time, and he really does not remember or "know" that it bothers you). The way someone explained this phenomenon to me was that for those with ADHD, there is "now" and "not now" and not necessarily a linear continuity with time. And also, difficulty in picking up on social cues, so that it takes someone else getting very, very upset for him to realize that he is affecting them in this way. So possibly he is really in his own head much longer than you or I might be. And finally, there is possibly an element of impulse control as well. However, not everyone with ADHD does these things to his or her partner, and if you don't mind me saying so, he may not be a jerk, but they are pretty inconsiderate and unkind! 

Even though these things may be explained, please don't feel bad or diminish how they make you feel. You are not too sensitive--and don't worry, I wouldn't tell you that you should feel flattered. You have a right to feel comfortable with the way he touches your body--it's your body! And you have a right to tell him if he has crossed a line with teasing or is hurting you. And you shouldn't have to just endure it, and he should understand that he is being disrespectful to you, even if he doesn't mean to be. I am glad you are concerned about your young nieces and nephews--they particularly don't deserve teasing that hurts their feelings by an adult. 

It is great that he went to counseling with you. I wonder if the counselor can help with a "stop" word that you both agree on, so that if you say the word, he immediately knows that it is one of those times, and he should stop. The thing I ran into with my STBX is that he was so defensive and had such bad self-esteem that we couldn't talk about it--he would shut down or insist that I was too sensitive or that he didn't do anything wrong or that I didn't have a sense of humor. And I made the mistake of thinking that if I just explained it to him enough times, he would "see" that his behavior hurt me and would innately know it at some point, and I would get hurt every single time when he didn't. I am so happy that it sounds like your DH is trying. Don't give up. But also, figure out a way to stand up for what you want that makes you feel empowered, rather than hurt and sad. Maybe some counseling for yourself?  

thrive on conflict

Your H sounds just like my 14 year old ADHD son. he is often too rough, too aggressive when playing, in your face kind of thing. He just seems to get a kick out of annoying people, even when he is told to stop the behavior several times,  its not until I scream at him does he stop. I believe he thinks he is being funny at times and doesn't realize he is actually pissing everyone off, and some times i think he knows he is being a bratt and still does it on purpose because he gets a charge from it. My H does this too, to a lesser degree, but there are times when his teasing crosses the line of being playful to being just mean then he doesn't seem to notice the cues that its not amusing and I have to raise my voice to stop before the lightbulb goes on that he is being an ass.