Tired of the over reactions

I know I'm suppose to be patient and positive, and Lord knows I've been trying, but I'm having huge issues with the emotional over reactions on the part of my ADDer.

They come in bursts and are usually very short lived (as long as I don't engage) and completely out of left field. But when they happen they leave me feeling very sad and like giving up on 'us' completely. 

I try very hard not to react to it as I've come to understand that my reaction only diverts focus onto me instead of my partner when he does this. I'd rather let him sit with it and realize how much of an over reaction it was and how wrong it was (and how much of an ass**** he's being!).

The problem is when he does this IT HURTS. It hurts me soo badly no matter how I react or don't react!  :((

I can be joking and laughing about something (this just happened) and he snaps about it. I go quiet and withdrawal and that's when his apologies start. And hey! that's great and all, but the problem is... that's where it ends! He doesn't ever look into fixing this emotional problem of his. He doesn't talk to anyone about it or read books about it. We just move on like nothing's ever happened. I'm tired of being treated this way by someone who "loves" me. It's like he thinks it's completely ok and normal to act this way!?!??!?!?! wtf? And yet he admits he doesn't treat anyone else like this but me!

I'm carrying this pain inside me (resentment) and the truth is when he acts like this he looks DISGUSTINGLY UGLY to me! I instantly lose all and any attraction I have for him! I find him repulsive and cruel in that moment. At times I feel 'hate' when he treats me that way. I've never had someone treat me that way and get away with it as often as he does (nearly daily)! It's DRAINING and a self esteem killer! It makes me feel like an emotional punching bag. I told him I'm glad no one sees him snap at me like that because they may even see it as verbally/mentally abusive. It's just wrong. It's wrong to treat someone you love so meaninglessly... and then in the next moment be so apologetic and say, "I love you"!?!? It's just sick and twisted... Like as though nothing ever happened....  

And god forbid I have any hurt or upset feelings about how he just acted towards me!!! Woe is me if I express them! WAR HAPPENS! BIGGEST FIGHT EVER!!!

I know I'm not suppose to take his symptoms personally... But what I do take personally is when he does this so often and realizes it's wrong but doesn't seek help to stop it. I take THAT personally!!! Not nice at all... 

Makes me question what I'm even doing with a person like this... ADD or not!

And things have been going so well between us... But what I'm starting to realize is that it's because I'm not reacting to his shi**y behaviours-- but the shi**y behavious are still there and not being worked on. It's exactly what he wanted! Me not reacting to his crap symptoms and him not taking responsibility for them! Perfect! not.

I'm not feeling right about this. :( I'm feeling duped.

It seems he's just going along, still acting like a jerk, even though I'm not reacting to it. I don't know how long I can do this for! It's too exhausting! I really need him to take some initiative and get help for his shi**y disposition.

What exactly does he expect from me!?!?!?!?! :'(    <----- really though!?!?!?!?

Sorry... I write the same thing nearly every time, but I need to vent and get it out! again! It's the same thing over and over... I just wish he would change!

YES! I said it!!! I WISH HE WOULD CHANGE!!!!!!!!! :'(

I hate this! :'(

I completely understand the

I completely understand the part where you say that your husband looks ugly when he acts this way. I noticed too that when we are in a fight and my husband acts in a completely immature, just childish way because he is angry he looks so incredibly ugly. It's really like he changes into a different person.

I read a lot of different posts at this forum and this is one of those things where I can't really relate at all with your husbands. I can over react and get angry etc but it takes a lot for me to attack my husband personally and be mean. All I can say is that the very few times (we're talking perhaps 2 times) this has happened it's been all thanks to him so I don't really want to blame ADD for this at all. Your husband needs to deal with this problem and it shouldn't be put on the shelf with all the "ADD stuff" that you are "supposed to" just accept and let pass.

Please continue to write, every time it happens because you didn't deserve it and you shouldn't have to take it. As long as he keeps doing this you need to make sure that you deal with your feelings from it for your own sake.

What does he say about these outbursts afterwards? As in the next day or later when he has calmed down and you can talk to him? Does he acknowledge this as a bad behavior? Can he express to you what happens when he explodes like this?

Ebb and Flow, its not fair is it?

Despite all my "big" talk, things have been horrible. And they have been for quite some time. He knows he has adhd and he doesnt really care about what that means. It seems that he will not acknowledge his nasty irrational behavior as something that might be rooted by this but will instead blame other things for the reason he cant cope. And to some extent, he's right. His daily stressors outside of us has hit a terrible peak and I dont know what he will do next. Quit, run away, worse?. He is completely comfortable in being unaffectionate, angry, and withdrawn. If I even "look" at him because its been days since we really talked - he tells me I am hovering and annoying. Yes even with the meds. I'm so alone constantly and have no sense of what its like to have a partner any more, yet the kids love and need their dad in the worst way and I want that for them. He is trying, at least, to be there for them but .. Not so much (or enough). I cant tell you all how much I really miss him. To be in the same room, the same bed and to be so alone. Its horrible. To be spoken to as someone not as a support but just another nuisance. To look for a kind word, ANY word some days and not get it- beyond that you might get from a stranger. It hurts. I don't know if I am doing anything right, At this moment i feel, yet again, so lost, stupid, alone.
ebb and flow's picture


I feel ya completely!

I know we're suppose to be strong and supportive because they're the ones living with ADHD but there is another side of this.... us.

We have feelings to. We feel lonely, drained, sad and depressed when snapped at, ignored, etc.

Most days the patience is there but I guess every once and a while I selfishly want some of it back! I'd like some reciprocity where there seems to be next to NONE!

It's like being in a relationship and putting all the work in ALONE! 

I wish my partner would see these things as "a problem". Not something we just blow off and neglect to address. I know it's hard for him to acknowledge but I just pray that one day he'll wake up and get it!


Ebb and flow: I just read your first comment and felt every pain in your words. I too am in your shoes. Dating a man for 3 yrs and it has been a rollercoaster ride. The difference btw your situation is that my s/o has finally opened up about it and has started to try medication. The unpredictable outburst of anger, mean words, and actions have drained me as I walk on egg shells so afraid to cause him to react in any negative way. What is worse is the apathy of not acknowleging he has hurt me, can just walk by me as he sees my crying, if I even try to reach out- I only regret it after hearing him say something else so demeaning. Days can go by when we don't speak. My safest way of talking to him is by text or email. He rarely responds; if he does- it's not what I want to hear. In my recent turmoil w/ him- its been 5 days- he hasn't apologized and I'm dragging myslef every moment of the day to keep myself standing. I recently found this blog- maybe by blessing. B/c I cannot tell friends and family the details of how he treats me. Its very very lonely. What hurts so much more is seeing how he goes through his days as if he has no remorse. He once cared- or was it an illusion? I read and read about ADD, but where is the part of him that is human? I cannot comprehend how he cannot say sorry. Then again - I want to hear it- but he will just do something again. Yes, when does it stop. I feel guilty as I think of giving up now that he has finally attempted to "look" at his ADD. But the hurts don't away. I see myself so pathetic-and he actually called me that the other day when he saw me crying. I wish there was an support group for the ADD partners like they have for Alcoholic partners and their families. I

Support groups

Oh, man, how I wish the same thing. The outside world thinks the ADDer is wonderful-so much energy and he will do anything for anyone (except his wife). No one outside understands.

Have you tried CHADD? In some of the larger areas they may have support groups for spouses. In our small city, they only have one group. I went once but since it was one group for parents of ADHD kids, adult ADHDers and spouses, it didn't give me that chance.

ADD or not, you need to ask

ADD or not, you need to ask yourself why you're crying because of something he has done, not only does he not console you but he calls you pathetic, and you're not AS WE SPEAK creating boundaries for yourself to keep him from EVER being allowed to do this again. I admit to taking a lot and forgiving a lot, but ADHD or not, my husband EVER told me I was pathetic for crying due to something HE did...God help him. He has 'ignored' me, and that hurts bad enough.

You are creating an environment (by allowing his verbal abuse to go unpunished) that will destroy you if you don't stop it.


ebb and flow's picture


"You are creating an environment (by allowing his verbal abuse to go unpunished) that will destroy you if you don't stop it."

I've also heard our therapist say, "and if one of you doesn't follow through on whatever is posted on the white board... at the weekly meeting they will have to accept the consequences"

What do these "punishments" and "accepting of consequences look like"? 

I can assertively tell my partner to, "NEVER speak to me like that again!"--- I have, often done just that. And he just does it again because HE HAS A PROBLEM WITH HIS BRAIN THAT KEEPS HIM FROM CHANGING IT! (called ADHD).

I'm so tired of all of this.

It goes round and round and round with no end in sight. Though I'm told that it takes a while for the ADDer to get it sometimes, it still doesn't change how sh*tty it is and how draining it is in the mean time. :(

At this stage *all I have* is my control over my angry reactions as I've come to admit and understand that they do not help an already effed up situation. BUT what now? Do I leave because he's not taking the initiative to change his end of it? Does he even want to change those behaviours?

Man... we need way more therapy!!!

Thanks Sherri! Still just venting... :)

For my marriage the

For my marriage the consequences are that we won't be married anymore.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...they can do ANYTHING...change ANYTHING just like anyone else can..if they want to badly enough. ADHD does explain why my husband does certain things (or your s/o) but it does NOT mean that these things cannot be changed. ADHD isn't stopping him from changing...his lack of consequences if he doesn't change are. If he KNEW that you had boundaries in place that would cost him his relationship with you if he didn't get seriously busy gaining control over his big mouth then he would start trying to gain control over his mouth. We all know that they're going to do and change as little as humanly possible unless we hold their feet to the fire.

Maybe you have other ways/consequences...but I didn't. Nothing worked for me. I begged, cried, pleaded, b*tched, bribed, etc for years....and nothing changed. When I said "ENOUGH", changed myself, and told him "either join me or lose me" then he started showing some REAL signs of life. He is proof that they can change. So I don't buy it for one minute that they cannot change any given behavior, if they want to.

ebb and flow's picture


I guess he can call my bluff when I say "change it or I'm leaving". I don't want to leave him. I love him. But it's true that it's not healthy to stay in a relationship where the person acts this way towards me.

I may need to talk to my counselor about this a little more. Maybe some personal sessions with her.

I've got some strength searching to do!!! 

Thank you!

Ebb and Flo

I understand exactly what you are going through. I was there. "Divorce" was the consequence for me, too, but my ex couldn't or wouldn't make even the smallest changes. I've never stopped loving him, but it's possible to love something that is NOT good for you. I love him, but I couldn't live with him.

Life is Peaceful!

I get lonely, but I was often lonely WITH him. My life is easier without having to clean up his messes (physically and emotionally). And more peaceful without the fights and misunderstandings. The problem with dealing with or breaking away from an ADDer is that there is no closure; they never admit that they were unspeakably mean or negligent. It took years for me to feel like a real person again; I felt like a nobody because he treated me that way. That's the most lingering side-effect.

He's doing much better, too. He has a good job and seems happy. In fact, after 5 years divorced, we've started 'dating' again. The balance of our relationship has changed; I have my own life and don't need him at all and he knows it. He's not allow to make messes in my house, and if he's late, he knows I'll just do things without him. It's a nice feeling and he's behaving better than he ever has (more proof; they can do it if they HAVE to!). I'm taking it day by day because I remember how bad it can be.

Thanks, its important to hear

Thanks, its important to hear this- say it often if you dont mind. "They can do ANYTHING.change ANYTHING just like anyone else can..if they want to badly enough." It is constantly easy to lose sight of that... To remember to take a firm stand instead of tiptoeing all the time. I am so tired...

It is important to remember

It is important to remember this...for your own sanity. The walls are like Fort Knox. I know. I lived it. Admittedly my walls were pretty high as well. Once you're on the merry-go-round it is the most difficult thing in the world to get off. I've told my story many times...when I lost my father, my marriage was in shambles around my feet, and I was beginning a new start in my relationship with God, I decided then and there that I was done being unhappy.  I felt, deep down in my heart, that he was done being unhappy too...and that he loved me as much as I loved him. The pain was so intense that I could not imagine divorce/losing him being any worse...and at least I knew at some point that would ease and time would lessen the pain of losing him.

When there is no progress...no communication...no accountability...I honestly don't know how we maintain sanity. I know I almost lost my mind for many years. I could not reconcile my life, his actions vs. his words, my choice to maintain faith in him when he showed me very little reason to. But, I can also look back and see where I went wrong in so many ways. I lost myself. I lost my ability to trust my own thoughts. I believed the horrible things DH and SD said about me. I thought I was a monster. I had no boundaries. I rationalized his behaviors...feeling that he WANTED to do better, just couldn't. DON'T make that mistake. There are walls...you're lonely because they are comfortable in their own little bubbles and they have no real, tangible reason to step outside of their comfort zones. My heart goes out to you guys. Been there, done that...and don't kid myself that I might not be there again someday...but I hope not.

Ridiculous co-dependent language

I've always had a problem with co-dependant talk. When my ADHD-er snaps without reason, using brutal language and blame-shifting tactics on me, I have not created "an environment" for him to do this.  I am not committing a new misdeed by failing to effectively punish his misdeed against me. In fact, I am not allowing or disallowing anything. The abusive action comes from HIM and I have no part in what he is doing other than just being there. If I firmly demand that he stop his brutality and treat me with respect and he continues to be needlessly aggressive and brutal, where have I failed? The answer is I have NOT failed. I am not a self-created victim for his refusal to treat me nicely. ADHD-ers can be vicious and unreasonable whether or not anyone has given "consent" to it. 

Claiming that a person created the context for an ADHD-er's sudden weird anger is like telling a bank employee who survived a hold-up that he "created" the environment for what happened.  No. That's wrong. Seriously, no.  

Ridiculous co-dependent language

Wow.  I'm new here.  Searched for you and here you are!  I could have written the above.  My husband of 13 years has ADD and we had a huge blow-out this morning over our 8 year-old's science project.  My husband said two months ago that he wanted to help our son, so I said "great!" and waiting for something to happen.  Of course, it never happened.  Because our boy is only 8,  he needs a little more guidance than "..go do your science project!"  He was over whelmed.  This morning I stepped in to help him choose a topic and get started.  My husband saw this as stepping on his territory and started SCREAMING at me.  He left the house all day, only returning to tell me he may spend a few days at a hotel.  He screams at me and then BLAMES me for his behavior while I pick up the pieces of my son's disorganized project.  I'm at my wit's end with this behavior - mostly the mind-games.  When I call him on it, it gets worse.  He has mastered his defenses to a point where awards should be presented.  I'm so tired. 


Thank you for the comment SherriW13. I know it is verbal abuse. After he called me pathetic that night, I told him several time- crying- that I did not deserve to be spoken to the way he spoke to me. Instead he said "well I don't deserve how you are speaking to me either". I thought I was going crazy, because I know I did not say anything insulting to him. Maybe that is why this last fight felt so different than the other fights. I was too afraid to argue further and his daughter was there. I sent him texts- all backfired at me. I am working so hard, thinking about all the options on how I should set boundaries. So afraid to approach him again about this- afraid of more hurtful words. If i email or text- i have to choose my words so carefully. If anything, he does not respond or he will send something ugly back at me. I think I am pre-grieving as I think that my only option now is to leave and preparing for results that I may not like: He won't care and will never realize what he has done to me. I hate myself for not being strong enough to do it now, knowing what he has done was so wrong. How did it get so terrible? I guess I also cry b/c I never thought he would think it was okay to disrespect me like that. Thank you for the hugs.

reply to ebb and flow

I agree 100%.  We both have so much work to do. I have put in so much time, effort, thought and tears into changing (some of which I am now enjoying).

Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas of how to deal with: We have feelings to. We feel lonely, drained, sad and depressed when snapped at, ignored, etc in a positive way?

My DH doesn't want to address any of my hurt/sad feelings and doesn't want to admit that he is irritable/angry - he just wants to forgot all about the past (not talk about any actions/words that have been so destructive and find answers to change those behaviors to a positive for the future) - he becomes irritated immediately when I ask to discuss this - he says he doesn't want to re-hash and re-hash the past  (which I agree) but we haven't discussed any of it yet.  I wonder if DH is maybe embarrassed or angry with himself or isn't able to explain his actions and this is his source of irritation and that is way he doesn't want to talk about things.  I don't know if this is true or not, but I have a strong feeling that maybe it. 

I don't want to re-hash old issues; I need to understand the past to process it and be done with it.  I don't want to assign blame/shame I just need him to understand that his actions did have an effect on those around him.  Again, bring it out in the open, address it, figure out how to better deal with it for next time, and be done with it.  My concern with not addressing/dealing with these issues is that history will repeat itself (and if you aren't aware and don't own what is yours - history will repeat) and we will not make progress.

Sorry but for some reason my replies are not posting correctly.

don't rehash the past, but look to present

You can immediately respond to your husband's request not to live in the past by making an agreement with him that you two will deal, rationally, with the present.  Erase phrases such as "you always" and "that's just like" and "I remember when."  Instead, work together to define TODAY'S best and worst parts, then set about measuring the extent of specific issues so you can address them.  For example, in the back of my book I offer a "Chore Score Worksheet."  The purpose of this is that couples who fight over whether one or the other isn't doing enough household work can actually measure, accurately, what the "real" story is so they can then start to craft a plan based in reality.  This worksheet takes into account what's "fun" and what's not, what's "easy" and "hard" for each partner so you can have a real conversation about what's really going on. 

Another example is the Validation Tracking Worksheet to track how often you say or do supportive things for your spouse.  It's a real eye opener for BOTH members of the couple in most cases.

So you can set it up like this:

  • let's make today as happy as we can
  • it seems we have X problem today - let's measure it so we know the exact dimensions of the problem
  • now that we've measured it, what did we learn and how can we use that info?
  • create a plan for making positive changes

What you may well find is that ADHD interferes with the process at first.  But it will get you out of the "we have this issue" / "no we don't" argument and focused in more positive directions.  Also, you can MEASURE the success of EACH of you (note that I don't say just the ADHD spouse here - you should both be held to high standards, and trust me many non-ADHD partners think they are doing a better job of changing than they really are.)  As you measure your success you'll see where you need new approaches, which you can develop together.

You may well say that this is unrealistic.  Perhaps.  But I think it's more unrealistic to think that your ADHD partner will make the changes that you would like if he is defensively convinced you are mired in the past.  This is a way to put that part, at least, behind you.

I find your response interesting

You are so smart, Melissa, and I think you are lucky because George at least admits he has a problem and treats his ADHD.

What I am struggling with is the past was SO BAD that I can't seem to move past it. I've shared this before, I'll bore everyone if I repeat it. Readers Digest version, my husband refused to work for over 2 years, I had to go without needed medical care as a consequence of the resulting lack of money and insurance. He's working now and that's great. But he's still the guy who seemed to prioritize his leisure/not having to look for a job over MY LIFE! Whenever I look at him, I think "this is the guy who thought it was better for me to die than for him to get a job." I can't help it, it was so traumatic I just can't seem to get past it.

The fact that he does not see it was like that (I'm not appearing in his paper towel roll right now) makes it even worse. I don't think I'm angry any more, just scared. If it happened and he does not admit it was devastating, what in the world will prevent it from happening again? He does not want to talk about it any more, it's over as far as he's concerned. But without understanding on my part as to what he is doing to prevent it happening again (which I think I can only get by talking about it) I can't relax and feel comfortable.

I am beginning to wonder if I'm going to have to leave him because I can't get past this. I can't keep beating him up about something he doesn't even remember, but I can't forget.


We each have hugely traumatic issues in our pasts related to how our partners treated us - that is why there is so much pain in these pages.  There is stuff in my past which could paralyze me if I wanted.  The realistic answer to your question of "how do I know whether or not he might do it again?" is that you absolutely will NEVER know.  HOWEVER, what you will know is that you can respond differently next time.  If he does it again, you can take control and respond however you see fit.  Right now you are letting your trauma from your past completely overwhelm any chance you have for a happy present.  If you don't have one already, would you consider working with a therapist to get beyond your fears?  You have much more control in this situation than you give yourself credit for, even with health problems.

I wish you luck with resolving this.  I don't know anything, really, about PTSD, but I'm wondering if you shouldn't ask someone about it as I know you've been struggling with the paralyzing effect of this particular issue for a couple years or more...

Sueann, as you may know I

Sueann, as you may know I have a 'fear' from the past that I worry will repeat itself too...well, many, but one inparticular that HAS about cost me my sanity. If I get 10 minutes alone to think about my marriage I get overwhelmed with the fear that he'll cheat again. I could sit here and give all of the details, reasons, and rationalization why I have a legitimate right to be concerned, to not trust him, etc. I was 3 months pregnant with our daughter the first time he cheated...and learned about his second affair less than a month after my father (who meant the absolute world to me!) died. There aren't words to describe the pain...I am crying as I type this...God, how badly it hurts to think about it...

BUT....Melissa is right...you are never going to be happy as long as you carry around this burden from the past. One of the best parts of going to counseling by myself recently was to finally just get it all out on the table and tell my counselor how terrified I am that he'll cheat again. I admit, as well, to having those moments when I look at him and ask myself "how could he do that to me...how did he ever convince himself it was OK?" I have made huge strides and great changes in my life since the fall of 2009 when the bottom literally fell out for me, but the one thing I realized is that my fear that he'll cheat again has kept me from TRULY being able to let go and just enjoy life.

What I finally came to terms with is that there is NOTHING I can do to prevent it from happening. I can be a good wife, I can love him unconditionally, but if the demon inside of him that allows him to be able to cheat on me rears it's ugly head again, it is 100% out of my control. However, as Melissa said, I can control what happens next if, God forbid, he cheats again.  I am learning that that fact alone needs to bring my the comfort that I cannot find right now otherwise. I do trust him a lot more than I did a year ago, after just finding out, but no one can dictate how long it takes to 'trust' again in any given situation where trust is destroyed.

I think you have lost Faith in your husband more than anything else...but I also believe that you need to consider the present and give him credit for that. How long has he been working? How long will he need to work and provide insurance for you before you are able to say "thank you" for what he's doing NOW versus what he's done in the past? What if he were to become disabled tomorrow and was unable to work and provide health insurance for you?

I agree with Melissa, I think counseling would help...it has helped me see that I cannot let the fear of "what ifs" keep me from being able to enjoy my life. I thought I was doing great letting go of the past until I had those sessions and I realized that although my day-to-day life was better, deep down I was overwhelmed by my fears and it is what is keeping me from being able to just 'relax'. Sounds simple, but it is HUGE for me. I'm working on it.



I feel bad for you that your husband cheated. Neither of my husbands ever did. My ADHDer is not made that way. I can only imagine how painful that is.

My husband has been at his present job about 2 1/2 years and he left another job that he'd had for 6 months to take this one. So about half of our marriage he has been working. I do give him a lot of credit and thank him for it on a regular basis. I really don't even fuss about how little the job pays. I just feel like, since he loves this job so much and it pays so little, he should treat it like volunteer work and find something to do in addition that would provide for our needs, like heating our house and providing medical care. But he pours his whole soul into it and comes home like a wet dishrag and sits around like a potted plant.

The problem really from my point of view is that he lost his job 2 months after we were married. I was getting medical care through an agency before that, but we moved to a county without such good services when we got married and I could not get help in the county where we live now. I was the sun, the moon and the stars for him before we were married but afterwards he did not care if I lived or died. That's what I'm talking about here: my legitimate fear of another stroke which would have left me either dead or disabled. I didn't really need insurance, just the money to fill my prescriptions, but all I earned had to be spent on rent and food. I was legally obligated to pay the rent, which was over half what I made, even if he did not contribute, and we could not afford to move. I felt really stuck.

I've had counseling and the counselor said there was nothing else he thought I needed to do. One of our marriage counselors as well thought that we were fine. I have no idea where to go to get help if people say I don't need it.

If he became disabled, we'd get disability through his company and his insurance would continue. My doctor now has me on meds that I can get at Wal-Mart for $4. It's never something I worried about. We survived 2 1/2 years of him being, as far as I was concerned, disabled and we survived because of my efforts.



Your post is timely.  Last night I had all I could take (being lonely, DH being angry, ect) so I made requested that he and I meet.  I told him that he and our marriage is to important to me and I want to work to improve our marriage.  DH reply was the he thinks he want to work on our marriage too.  He knows that he wants to keep raising the kids together and doing our day to day lives.  I offered that we can do that but if we work together we can have so much more (enjoying our family, happiness, intimacy, living our dreams).  I made it very clear that I have made a lot of changes but that I have my part in all of this and that I want to own it and change it.  I told him that I love him and I'm here for the long haul and I know that together we can make this work.  DH seemed to respond to this and agreed that we can work on improving our marriage.  So we have a planned date Sat afternoon to put together a structure/outline of what each of us needs from the other (top 3 needs) and then ways to achieve/meet those needs. At the end of our meeting we actually hugged each other - for the first time in months.  Its a start :)

I am taking your advice. I will not re-visit or re-hash the past. It is dead and gone-leave it alone. I will present your information to my DH at our Sat meeting. I am hoping to pick up your book before Sat but I am planning on using the Married to Distraction book with the 30 days reconnection plan. 

Thank you Melissa for your advice - sometimes its difficult to see clearly through all of the hurt, but your words and examples act like the light at the end of that dark tunnel.

While reading this post, I

While reading this post, I realized that I was speaking the words as I was reading them - your words are my words. I feel the same way and in the same place.  It hurts when we want to have our partner back, our family life back and to leave the loneliness, anger and pain behind us. 

I don't know your story but I do believe that my DH does want to save our marriage but doesn't (or maybe scared too?) move forward. 

My heart goes out to you.  I'm sorry that I do not have any wisdom or advice to offer you to lessen the pain or to fill loneliness. Sometimes, just knowing that you aren't alone helps.


Not fair...

My heart feels you- as I feel guilty with my pain- hearing how you have to keep your chin up not only for you, but also for your children. My s/o has kids from different relationships. I have seen the gaps in his communication and holes in his relationship with them caused by his ADD. he loves them dearly, and its actually them who seem to make him work harder in controlling his behavior when They are visiting. Not the case during his daughter's last visit. He snapped at me, which made her run to the bathroom scared. He rushed to apologize to her and said sorry to her- but not to me. Hearing him laugh and play with her in the other room as he knew I was in the bathroom crying has really laid a different scar on my heart this time. I have been asking myself how much of it was ADD, since he was able to acknowledge his daughter's hurt, but ignore me !?!?!? God, this hurts. What has centered me in a place of awakening that has left me in front of a mirror looking at someone I don't even know anymore was when his daughter waited until he fell asleep- came into the bathroom and said "you can't stay in the bathroom all night it's time to sleep, I'm sorry Dad yelled at you, he doesn't know how to control his madness- but I'm going to teach him- okay". My heart broke and I'm screaming in my head asking why is this happening. I find it harder to just give up more b/c of her. I had to pick up myself and be okay for her. But once she is gone - I'm am left alone to find strength for me- which is the harder. I sometimes tell myself maybe my purpose in his life was to come this far: give his kids an example of positive communication and to help get him to the first step of his own battle: acknowledgment. I feel my significance is all lost- and afraid he only hates me now.
ebb and flow's picture

kippei--- long, sorry....

It's not even a screaming rage that goes on for hours... It's just snappy comments or remarks, or being angry or irritated with what I said WHEN THERE WAS NOTHING TO BE IRRITATED ABOUT. It's the sensitivity to everything I say and do... It's like a nip or bit to let me know what I'm saying upsets him, and don't push it any further or else he'll *really* blow---and yet nothing's happened to make him feel that way! ugh!


I said to him, in the kitchen the other day, that I'd prefer he not open a tea gift set of mine (with 20 or so boxes of tea in it) that was nicely wrapped on the counter because we already have a *cupboard full* of tea already (stupid, neutral request I regret ever asking!). He said he wanted "THAT CHAI TEA---IN THE BOX!" I then reiterated that there are like 5 boxes of Chai tea already open... can't he just drink one of those? Well.... that's where he started with the eff bombs, raising his voice and then started to THROW OUT all the boxes of tea from the cupboard!?!?!? I calmly (believe it or not) watched and asked why he was doing that?!?!?! He said he was making room in the cupboard for the new tea... so that he could open the gift box of tea... because he wanted THAT Chai tea, not the other types that were already open! (SERIOUSLY?). I told him, like his mother would, to "please retrieve the tea from the garbage and put it all back and to stop over reacting to my request! Just do whatever you want! god!".

Example 2:

Last night he and I were sitting on the bed. He FINALLY tells me there's a rip in the sheet on his side of the bed (no surprise to me because he jerks around in his sleep like "where's the fire?"). This rip is about a foot and a half long! LOL! I noticed it myself about a week ago and wondered why he didn't mention it---then saw that he *seemingly strategically* placed his white undershirt on top of it FOR DAYS, almost as if he was covering it up! I thought he didn't want to tell me because he thought I'd be upset because these sheets are my fav. white sheets. Anyway...

He said: "oh, there's a rip in the sheets"...

I said "yeah, I noticed-ha ha ha"...

he said "WHAT?!?! (angry, irritated tone)"

I said "nothing.... (concerned I just made him angry) I just noticed it a week ago and noticed how you *strategically* placed your undershirt over it---almost like, to cover it up- ha ha ha" <-- note I'm still laughing here because I don't care and found it really funny actually. Then I said " You know what I was gonna do? I was gonna (I'm still laughing here, quite hard actually) take your undershirt and roughly sew it over the sheet, kinda like a patch--ha ha ha, 'cause you were using it to cover the rip---ha ha ha". (my goofy sense of humor he doesn't really appreciate-- especially when he's upset--which is always)

He got so upset towards me for this!!! 

He snaps "WHAT am I a CHILD!?!?"

I stop laughing. *Huh?*

He continues, "What, so, I'm like a child who covers the rip with my undershirt so that 'mommy' doesn't find it!?!?!?"

I just froze because that's not what I meant... I just thought he didn't want to tell me because he thought maybe I'd be upset... And by me joking around about it he'd feel ok in the fact that I'm not upset about it. Boy was I incorrect and paying for it now! :/

That's where I became silent and withdrawn because at this point there is nothing I can say that will get me out of what's to come-- BIG FIGHT! I don't even know what I did wrong really!!!! I somehow accused him, somewhere in there, of being like a child.... but that's not what I intended or implied AT ALL!!! I thought he'd find what I was saying somewhat funny!!! FML... this is everyday, btw. Everyday I have to be so careful how I word things, what I'm saying, how it will be interpreted and what other meanings could be implied.... This is not something for me to adjust and change. This is his work, yet he doesn't seem to want to change it. He thinks it's normal to have someone feel this way around him!!! 

Man, it's hard to be with someone so emotionally explosive and unpredictable. Then *immediately* afterwards he's saying "I love you", "I'm sorry"... But to me he still just looks DISGUSTING AND UGLY and I can't help but feel overwhelmingly repulsed that almost EVERYTHING is a fight to him! Gross.

I have read all of your posts

I have read all of your posts in here...and was glad you posted some examples..I was wondering exactly what you were talking about.

I can tell you this...in example #1, my husband would have been mad at me too if I would have told him not to open the tea, regardless of how many boxes were in the cupboard. They see this as controlling...or you wanting to keep your stuff for yourself, being selfish. Please let me make it clear...there is no excuse for his reaction...and his reaction is his own and it is wrong. Very wrong. However, I can see his side of this situation. To me, it is tea. Even if I didn't want it opened, I would not tell him not to open it because it is just tea and after all of these years of fighting over everything, I'm not fighting with him over tea. My husband is weird (to me) in the aspect that he would probably want the tea that is wrapped up all pretty on the counter too...and although the very same exact thing might be in the cabinet, he still wants the one he wants. Food goes wasted sometimes because of this, but again I'm not fighting with him over tea....or cereal...or bread...or cheese...or any other random item he fixates on and wants instead of the one/kind that is already opened. He is a grown man and works hard to support the family, it is one concession I feel I can afford him.

As for the sheets...my best guess (completely guessing here) is that he covered the hole to keep from ripping it any further or to keep himself from getting snagged on it while sleeping or another random reason and your interpretation of why he covered it up was simply wrong and did make him feel like a child. COMPLETELY innocent mistake that did not warrant his reaction...but still might explain why he's feeling controlled and treated like a child. Think about how you put yourself into the 'mother' role by even suggesting that you thought he was trying to hide something 'bad' from you..like a child would and using the word "strategically" somewhat insinuates that he did it on purpose, to avoid getting in trouble...like a child would.

In the end, you need to say "damn, that was really uncalled for" or "your reaction was really over the top and unfair" and just let it go. Remember a few weeks ago when my husband was explaining something to me and swore I had a look on my face that made him feel like I thought he was stupid and went off on me? Yes, I cried...and I told him "that is so unfair! you are dead wrong and being completely unfair to me!" and he left the room for a few minutes and came back and said he was sorry and admitted his interpretation of my facial expression was wrong and said "you're right, it isn't fair". I wasn't hurt anymore. At that point I was thrilled that he was able to see what he did wrong and apologize for it! Do I think he has control over stuff like this...yes and no. I think the more I make him aware of it, the more he sees it, the more he tries to control it. I accept his apology and I let him know that I appreciate his taking responsibility for his actions. I don't want the pattern (him feeling worse and worse and worse every.damn.time.he.screws.up) to continue. I want him to realize that we all screw up and we all have to apologize when we do...and I want him to trust that when he apologizes, as long as he continues to try to improve, I will forgive him..completely. Maybe the difference is that I have clear boundaries in place. Not only boundaries for myself and how he treats me but boundaries in place for myself for how I treat him. I don't treat him that way and I don't expect to be treated that way. If he doesn't acknowledge and work towards improving this behavior, it will cost us our marriage. If I didn't stop trying to control him, it would cost us our marriage.

I'm sorry if this is rambling...my tea is wearing off...feeling the desire to take a nap. NEVER stop trying to put yourself in his shoes...and trying to TRULY understand where he might be coming from. PLEASE again understand 2 things...#1 his reactions are shitty and wrong and #2 I'm not saying that you're the reason he does this everyday...far from it, just saying with the 2 situations you mentioned above, I can see how you could possibly put yourself in his shoes and how it might help in future interactions. Living with ADHD really does require that we think about what we're going to say before we say it...same goes for them.

Sherri, my husband does the same thing

And we really can't afford to throw out the food. I asked him once, why did you open a new bottle of apple juice when there was one open, and he said, if you got a new one, I assumed the other one was gone. ADDers can't conceive that you might want to have certain things put by so you have them when you need him.

I'd just be happy if I could get him to finish a drink he's started instead of leaving the half-full glass on the counter.

ebb and flow's picture

Opening new stuff when there's an old one on the go....

Yeah this happens ALL THE TIME in our house!

He desires the fresh cheese, cereal, milk, bread, etc over the opened one ALWAYS! I used to do this as a kid so I kind of understand it... but it ticks me off. I just mention that there's already one open if we could try and use that one first but in the end I just end up eating that one myself while he enjoys the new. lol

I try not to make a big deal of this usually. It's hard when we have six different cheddar cheeses all going at once though and a lot goes to waste. Sometimes I have to say something about it.

In the case of the tea gift set... I would've had to find space for 20 more tea boxes in the cupboard and I didn't want to have to spend a half hour or so organizing... but low and behold, I did.

....That's where I became

"....That's where I became silent and withdrawn because at this point there is nothing I can say that will get me out of what's to come-- BIG FIGHT! I don't even know what I did wrong really!!!!....

....Everyday I have to be so careful how I word things, what I'm saying, how it will be interpreted and what other meanings could be implied.......

...Man, it's hard to be with someone so emotionally explosive and unpredictable. Then *immediately* afterwards he's saying "I love you", "I'm sorry"... "


Wow I know exactly what you mean here. In my marriage I have almost stopped saying anything but "...huh." in reply, for fear of causing a big fight. I barely ever bring up topics myself, because (1) he's too busy looking at his laptop [in the middle of the kitchen table] to listen, or (2) it isn't a "topic that interests him" [once at my birthday dinner out I was stopped mid-sentence and told that I could not tell him about the new novel I was reading, because it didn't interest him.... that was 12 years ago BEFORE we were married, what was I thinking], or (3) he will get stuck, before I ever reach my point, on some word or detail about which he has a strong opinion, and he will interrupt and sidetrack the "conversation", and I won't get to say anything else for an hour anyway.

The volatility and walking on eggshells thing is just exhausting.  And lonely.

is this man

treating his ADHD?  Sounds as if not.

Quick question. Are you often

Quick question. Are you often told that you are the problem and that he is sick of walking on eggshells? Do the tables turn?

...that's where I became

Word.  I keep thinking about a poem I once read about a young man at the Thanksgiving table hiding his turkey bones under his napkin.  I've been so careful for so long that I sometimes start believing that it really is all my fault.


My husband used to over-react, as well.  There were a couple of different things going on:

  • some of the over-reaction was his way of dealing with the fact that he resented my trying to control his life.  He would hold it inside and then suddenly on something "small" it would come out (and not sound rational or even related to what was going on at the time)
  • some of the over-reaction was his untreated ADHD brain chemistry - he was simply faster to react to some things than me so he would get bent out of shape about something that I didn't think was a big deal (still does sometimes - like when he thinks I'm going to pull in front of a car he just about jumps out of his skin - his response is so unexpected and loud that it almost creates the accident he fears!)

His strong repsonses showed up in what I call "spurts of anger" and stupid moves - the "cutting of your nose to spite your face" actions, like you describe with your husband throwing out perfectly good tea just to make a point.  Also, if he got going he could, on occasion, throw a tantrum...like stomping his feet, waving his arms, etc.  I was both unimpressed (hard to respect a guy who is jumping around for no very good reason) and pissed (because I was walking on eggshells all the time wondering when the next anger wave would be aimed in my direction).  No way to live.

My husband does NONE of that now (except the car startling...that's permanent, I guess!  I've learned to be cautious at intersections :-)) because he is treating his ADHD.  Getting rid of these spurts of anger was right at the top of my list of target symptoms I hoped he would address, right along with "be less distracted so you are able to pay more regular attention to your wife."  In his case, taking Wellbutrin helps tremendously.  And when he stops the meds, the anger comes back, even though our relationship is now smooth, which strongly supports my suspicion that it is chemically related, not just something that I am doing.

While your husband gets angry when you confront him about his behavior, by putting up with it you create an untenable situation for yourself.  You are setting yourself up to be permanently miserable (see my book and the section on addressing anger and frustration - Step 2 for more on this).  He may be defensive about your response because he feels he can do nothing to change the angry and impulsive behavior - if so, getting better educated about what the upside is of treating ADHD might help.  This is a delicate process, to be sure, but it can be done.  The first step is for you to calmly refuse to take it any more.  Be loving but firm.  And when he tells you "I love you" right afterwards I would be tempted to respond "You may say that you love me, but I don't believe you for your actions suggest that you don't care enough about me to take care of this problem. Until I see that you are trying all that you can to control your hurting me, I simply won't accept your words as truthful."  (Note:  one possible response is he'll stop apologizing...)

Someone somewhere in this thread said something about "all these ADHD behaviors we're supposed to put up with."  I would suggest something a bit different - understanding and empathy are a necessity, but you are not meant to be a slave to a partner's ADHD.  You have a life to live, as well.  If you can't find satisfaction, you need to change things on your side.  In this case, I think this means standing up for yourself lovingly but firmly.

The Fixer's picture


ok, we just had one of those nasty fights everyone here talks about--i just got home after a 7-day stay in the hospital, he was "there" for me, but in his usual detached way, he had a couple of meltdowns because he couldn't handle the stress of my being ill and him having to manage everything (ps, he hasn't worked in 15 years), then after i got home, my 14yr-old daughter had a meltdown, and i realized that she has it, too, this could explain why she can't make friends, she's always late, she loses things, can't deal with all the chatter at school...i have thought this for a while, now i'm pretty convinced, and want to do something about it before she starts high school.  i tried to speak to him about it and he exploded on me, like i'm not supposed to understand it or talk about it.  he uses it as an excuse for everything, but never discusses it with me, and when i scold him for not "being present" for me and my daughter, instead of saying, "oh, yeah, i guess i was distracted by this article on my iphone, you know how the add is...i'm sorry", he just totally reacts.  he wants his cake and eat it, too.  he gets to have this malady (which, by the way, he acts utterly ashamed by, he told me he did NOT want my daughter to know), it keeps him from ever having to be fully 100% responsible, and apparently would prefer that i not know much about it...the thing that is annoying is that i'm convinced that i also have it (my twin sis has it), but have managed to keep my life together, something he seems resentful of.  now he thinks i'm trying to take control of our daughter, away from him, i guess, but he really doesn't have that much control with her because he doesn't really engage with her...i just don't get it.  he tells me i talk to her all wrong, that i make her feel bad when i talk about her emotions (which she, like him, has a hard time with), and that she probably feels like he does when i talk to him about EMOTIONS...he is sooo disconnected, he has no idea what he is talking about, really.  im in therapy and have done therapy for years when necessary, he's done CBT for 2-3 years now and still acts ashamed.  he says i NEED to be careful of the WORDS i use with him (but he doesn't have to, obviously) because i can wound him so easily, and i prolly wound my child as well...i think that my partner is also a narcissist (in the family), so the combo can be ultra nasty.  he feels threatened all the time, and reacts by attacking, insulting and then storming off. usually comes back and apologizes, but not with a big smile and i can still feel the anger, which he blames ON ME!!...none of my friends can stand the way he treats me, he acts like he is such a victim.  one thing i cannot deal with anymore is the one-way conversations.  you're right, whoever said it--i'm lonely because he is never really with me, i don't think he really connects with anyone.  sadly i'm beginning to see this in my daughter, and hope we can get her help.  i think i'll have to do it by myself cuz he's too caught up in his own issues...i'm prepared to leave him when my daughter goes to college, i want an equal partner, i've read a lot of these posts, and some of the add folks seem to be making huge efforts.  i'm not seeing this in my hubby...he asked me once if i saw any change in  his behavior and i told him--honestly--that i didn't see that much (he still is not working), to which he responded by exploding...i've been taking care of him for 25 years, i'm really tired of it.  i saw when i was in the hospital that he was incapable of really taking care of me, if something seriously had happened, i'm not sure he would have been able to handle it.  i'm in my mid-50's, i need an equal partner! i want to be able to help him, to discuss his problems, but he is very protective, defensive--no one can get too close to him--so i won't be abandoning him as someone here accused me of...

your daughter

What you write about your life is so...well, sad!  And it sounds as if your daughter could stand some help.  If it were me, I would do things in this order:

1.)  get your daughter fully evaluated for ADHD and anything else that might be going on (forget about whether your husband likes it - do it anyway!)  If she gets a positive evaluation, which sounds likely, then this will open access to things that will help her be as successful as possible in school, such as extra time on tests and the like.  Make sure she gets at least a 504 accommodation from the state and that she uses the accommodations offered her in school.  This will not only improve her grades, it will also open the door for accommodations on standardized tests such as the SAT when she is ready for college (but you have to show that she's been using the accommodations in school to qualify).  I would also suggest you consider a therapist for her, since it sounds as if your family life is complicated and she may need someone to help work through this.

2.)  as you are getting things in order for your daughter, start to work on making sure that you have what you need.  I describe the beginnings of this process in my book in the chapter on setting boundaries and finding yourself again - you'll be able to work with your therapist on this, too.  Think through your finances (sounds as if you would need to pay some support if you divorced); think through your priorities; thing through what you can do to make sure YOU are the one in control of your life no matter what decision you make about how you move forward.

3.)  make sure you have enough emotional support.  Your husband may be distant, but that doesn't mean that you must be isolated.  And, if it were me, I think I would put my foot down about the victim routine.  ADHD is NOT AN EXCUSE for being unemployed for 15 years and not carrying your own weight in a relationship (I'm assuming his lack of employment is not part of a deal that the two of you made about how he would be the child-rearer in the family and stay home from the disdainful tone of how you wrote about it...)

Anyway, don't wait on your daughter.  She deserves to receive whatever support she can get that will help her succeed.

The Fixer's picture

Your daughter

Dear Melissa,  thanks for the advise.  I think I need to get your book!  It's so depressing to read all these posts because our ADDER-spouses all have such similar behavior, especially the men.  They see us as the problem in most cases, many refuse to take responsibility for their lives and, as in my husband's case, is glad to have this as an excuse for his bad behavior, which he claims shames him (but not enough in my opinion!).  I treat him like a petulant teenager because this is how he acts most of the time, and when he stresses out over LIFE, I get tired of always being the cheerleader.  When I was in the hospital, I really needed a cheerleader, instead of his angst.  When I got home, my home looked like a BOMB hit it, he couldn't even manage to change the sheets that I had slept on before I went to the hospital...he offers to help, he tries, but with about as much commitment as a teenager.  After our fight when I got home, after he apologized, he apologized again and said that he's upset that our daughter will have to go through life like he has.  Its all I can do to not strangle him when he says stuff like this, like he is so disabled.  I told him to start reading these blogs, join CHADD, stop acting like this is it...I know that after 51 years of living with ADD and not knowing it, it must be hard to switch the "tape loop", and he is working on that, but now he seems even more self-absorbed.  I feel like screaming at him all the time, GET OVER YOURSELF!!  Even my daughter says he's never quite involved with us, it's always from a distant.  We did have a good talk yesterday about him and getting our daughter help, but that was after the several arguments we had over how misunderstood he is and how I'm so resentful...he could so easily change things by: 1) getting a job (this will never happen) and 2)really engaging with me and my daughter, asking questions and listening to the answers (2 things he's lousy at, friends and family can't stand talking to him because he talks AT them, even when they try to politely let him know that they are not interested in what he is saying!)...blah, blah...if my hubby worked, I wouldn't be as upset with him, I could put up with the rest of the behavior. You are right, I had NO intention of being the bread-winner 100%, and he's never been the child-care provider without putting up a bit of a fight (we had a NANNY for 3 years, so he could try to find work!!  Never happened...ps, we have ONE child).  Do you know how many times he has accused me of not supporting him???  He finally cleans for me, but it has taken years of fighting to get him to do it, he felt so above this task...sigh...we are all saying the same things, aren't we?  I guess it boils down to our coping skills and how much we are willing to take, right?  I like what you say about setting boundaries, the "tea story" sounds like something my hubby would get upset over, I'm always controlling him, he doesn't deserve to get the nice things, etc...he's a "breaker", his impulsive behavior causes him to break, rip and tear things, he's always forcing himself on things and people (a friend pointed this out)...poor guy!  I feel sorry for all of us...in my next life, hopefully my new mate will be "normal"...

It is this loving but firm stand

Melissa, it is this loving but firm stand that I have been trying to do. With texts, with verbal conversations when he can deal w things...usually. He does not think there is anything that can be done- and hes been taking meds. They have improved his ability to think but has not decreased his anger and irritability at all. As a result, he fles ibto an angry rage two nights ago and started it into a physical altercation. Im not proud I was upset too and should have walked away at the time when i saw how he was going but I just couldnt. When he brings the physical in, is it time ti call it a day? I think he is ready for that but only because he would not want to go to jail. Not because he did something wrong but because it is my faul. Even as this was happening he was accusing me of not respecting his lines- yet he hasnt been respecting mine for quite awhile. I am at a loss. What should i do?!

Physical altercation? There

Physical altercation? There is only one right thing to do. Walk away. Your safety is more important than anything.

Let me say that again: Your safety is more important than anything. 

I hope nobody else jumps on this thread with the usual Hallmark Card advice to be calm, work on forgiving him, work on understanding him more, communicate more directly about your needs, convince yourself that what he did was just a 'mistake'  bla bla bla.

Nope. When the fights get physical, all bets are off. 

For Lululove

I draw a very bright line at physical abuse which is completely unacceptable in a marriage.  Contact the local abuse hotline and find out what you need to know about safely getting a physical abuser out of your house.  And please take care of yourself!

Yes, I understand and so does

Yes, I understand and so does he. He is out again, and by his (and my) choice. We are doing couple counseling this week, pray it helps. He knows what he did was wrong (i was not hurt, but it was scary enough). He did apologize and i think he had scared himself. Yet he still states that I was the one who was not respecting his boundaries when he kept saying leave me alone. And it could be true to some extent but I was desperate (i will admit it) for a connection of some kind, positive of course. And that being said, his actions totally exceeded all boundaries. It makes me feel embarassed and low to say that, but feelIng invisible or annoying (not by anything I did per se but just by being there it seemed) for several days prior was hard and he was acting more and more cold. So I tried to get him to just spend some time me. He flipped out. It hurts because I really feel this is not him- and I dont know what is going on....meds definitely not optimum, stress is horrible, no sleep (check), no respect for me, huge underlying anger at me and the injustice of adhd... I know, I know. I will try this week to focus on me. Take care of me. Please dont think less of me if i say though, yeah- I love my husband, I am horribly worried for him as much as for me and the kids, and I really dont want to lose him ...but gotta find my strength and independence...

No one here thinks less of

No one here thinks less of you for loving him...we all love our ADHD spouses...even when we flat out hate them too.

After our reconciliation, as I laid down boundary after boundary as the need would arise, things got worse before they got better. I knew that I wasn't going back to 'that life', but that was pretty much my only boundary..change with me or leave. I didn't make him stop drinking, I actually started drinking some (in the home..which I NEVER do) and started smoking again. I had just lost my Daddy, just found out about the affair, and was basically just trying to survive. It took about 6 weeks for it to become evident that he had to stop drinking or we wouldn't make it. The alcohol turned him into a monster. The final straw was the night that he decided he was done jumping through hoops for me (to regain my trust which he single handedly demolished) and it spiraled completely out of control. I did not know that he'd  been drinking one night and a fight started that ended in a physical altercation. He broke my cell phone, I threw it at him, tried to take his, he got me in a head lock and we fell to the floor. The kids were about to dial 911. I am so ashamed of myself for that night and vowed to God and my daughter that I would NEVER happen again. I have not gotten drawn into another fight like that since. He also quit drinking that night. It can get as ugly as you let it...as you both let it, that is. In 13 years of marriage that is the only time it has ever gotten physical. First and last. We did some pretty nasty verbal fighting for many years though...but that is something that is part of our past and will stay there...or we cannot be married. My daughter hated it so badly that she wanted us to just divorce so it would end. She wound up with stomach problems and gained quite a bit of weight through it all. I REGRET, I mean with every breath in my body REGRET not getting control of the situation and putting a stop to it LONG before I did. It kills me for people to worry about the impact on the children....divorce is a much less 'evil' option than remaining in hell.

I don't know if your husband takes medication, but I worried a lot about my husband's temper when he took Concerta. I never considered him to have a temper issue until he started taking meds. It isn't as bad on the Vyvanse, and gets better each day, but he's still definitely got some added frustrations that I don't think he would have were it not for the meds.

Anyway..what has happened is in the past...even if it was yesterday. I'm glad he's removed himself from the situation because from your posts it seems it was getting worse. Please take care of yourself and I'm praying you find the strength to do what is best for everyone, no matter how hard.


ebb and flow's picture


"some of the over-reaction was his way of dealing with the fact that he resented my trying to control his life. He would hold it inside and then suddenly on something "small" it would come out (and not sound rational or even related to what was going on at the time)"

I can relate to this as possibly being one of his issues with me. My ADDer, often in the heat of an argument, will blurt out that he hates how I control EVERYTHING and that nothing is ever good enough! :/

I honestly do not feel that I "control" my partner. I believe my past behaviours may have come across that way because of the whole "parent-child" dynamic that developed out of my partner doing nothing on his own; but other than that I don't see myself as a controlling person. I, to this day, see some of my actions with him as 'guiding/helpful'--but either way, it gets interpreted how ever he wants anyhow! A great deal of this 'guidance' has stopped now, anyhow, as we barely spend time because I leave him to do 'his own thing' (which involves retreating for most of the day to the office), and I've taken on the chores that really matter, like, I take out the garbage and he does the recycling so that if he misses two weeks it's not as bad as if he misses two weeks of garbage. :/ So, I manipulate OUR life to allow him to "be himself". Must be nice for him! I'm actually borderline phobic of touching garbage... This was actually something he did at our old place FOR ME, but couldn't keep up with it at our new place... so the kind gesture that was, is now my job. :(

I back off and let him "be himself" based on what I've learned here and because, all and all, he HATES my "guidance/help"--- and, honestly, I hate giving it! He's a grown man for god's sake! Figure it out for yourself! 

I do, OTOH, feel very much emotionally controlled by my ADD partner! I often feel scared/on eggshells when I want to voice some feeling I'm having to him or about him, ie- when I casually voiced I didn't want him to open the gift box of tea and then met his wrath. I know, almost every time, *deep* inside that if I express this he will blow up at me and see it as me controlling him or as a huge issue! But the, 'I don't know what' inside me INSISTS that I express my feeling to him anyhow. I don't want to walk around this house and not be myself. I try to act towards him as I would any other person I've lived with. If I remember its garbage day tomorrow, I'll remind the other person too! That's just me! With my ADD partner though I have to be careful what I say, how I say it or if I do say it, how many different, colourful ways can it be interpreted! I hate it! It makes *me* feel controlled. It makes me feel uncomfortable in my own house to say or feel what I do. I'm scared a lot of times to tell him things because he'll see it as me controlling him... and I'm scared because he's got me in an emotional vice grip of "say it and I'll blow!". So who's really "controlling" who here....?!

"some of the over-reaction was his untreated ADHD brain chemistry - he was simply faster to react to some things than me so he would get bent out of shape about something that I didn't think was a big deal"

Now THIS sounds a lot more like it... 

"My husband does NONE of that now (except the car startling...that's permanent, I guess! I've learned to be cautious at intersections :-)) because he is treating his ADHD. Getting rid of these spurts of anger was right at the top of my list of target symptoms I hoped he would address, right along with "be less distracted so you are able to pay more regular attention to your wife." In his case, taking Wellbutrin helps tremendously. And when he stops the meds, the anger comes back, even though our relationship is now smooth, which strongly supports my suspicion that it is chemically related, not just something that I am doing."

Ok... So my ADDer is medicating with Ritalin but that's not necessarily going to help with the mood swings and angry outbursts (and in some cases I feel Ritalin makes it worse than when he's not on it). I didn't think of Wellbutrin because he keeps saying he's "not depressed"! I didn't think that Wellbutrin, taken along side the stimulant would help balance him out! Funny, at one point in the past he himself mentioned Wellbutrin, but then said no because he didn't want to be taken off the god sent Ritalin! Maybe if he knew he could take them together, and quite successfully, he may mention it to his Doc. Hmmm....

Also, your top two "symptoms that need to be dealt with" are also my top two! (and probably plenty of others here feel that way as well, I'm sure).

"While your husband gets angry when you confront him about his behavior, by putting up with it you create an untenable situation for yourself. You are setting yourself up to be permanently miserable "

What do I do about it? This is where I'm stuck. I sent him a calm but firm email stating that I do not like it when he treats me that way and that though his apology is appreciated I would like him to do something about it. I suggested he talk to our therapist about it, and or read about it, etc. Just that I want him to take the initiative to make it stop and not just apologize and then we move on and forget it ever happened... till it happens again. He got upset and said the email was 'angry' and that he IS doing something about it! But, he's not. lol I just never know where to go from here. I don't know where to stop mentioning it to him, the line we cross that becomes "controlling", or how to helpfully "guide" him on this without him losing it on me! How do I "stop putting up with his behaviour"?

Thank you so much Melissa! You clarified a lot for me!!! 

Four things

This is what I'm thinking about in regard to your situation. Four things: 

  1. You are not putting up with his behavior.; He is mistreating you.
  2. You are not creating an "untenable situation for yourself."; He is mistreating you.
  3. You aren't setting yourself up to be permanently miserable; He is mistreating you. 
  4. You aren't trying to control his life; He is mistreating you.

Conclusion: It's him. Not you. In order for you to stop putting up with his antics, he has to stop producing them. It's a mistake to think that further changes in your behavior will produce a change in his. It's up to him now. Give yourself a time frame for your expectations. When that time is up, have a decision ready for what you will do next.

ebb and flow's picture


My Adder came to talk again for snapping the other night.

He said that he snapped because he, "foresaw a fight coming because I never believe him when he says something". So, what that means is, he snapped at me because I was joking about him covering the ripped sheet, when in fact he wasn't covering it AT ALL. The fact that I thought he was covering up the rip, hurt his feelings. He said he doesn't understand why I would see him in such a childish light. Then, that regardless of what he would say, he felt I wouldn't believe that he wasn't covering it with his shirt. SOOOOO out of his own mental frustration.... he snapped at me saying "what do you think I am, a child?!". This was all happening in his head before he snapped out that comment at me!

Uh, what?

Though I know I should be open to his feelings and him sharing his feelings.... I lost it here. BAD. Like, I went mental, bad. I definitely felt, in that moment, he was deflecting blame onto me. He is entitled to feel whatever crazy, valid emotion he wants to and speak calmly and firmly to me about it, if he needs-- and I told him that. But to say that at some point in the past I didn't believe him is why he snapped at me the other night, makes me irate! What about the other times he's moody, irritable, snappy and mean? It just seems to me that in his mind, my past actions are to blame for the way he treats me now. Wow. What do I do to help that? Any negative way I've acted in this relationship, I feel, is directly in response to his symptoms--which I didn't understand before. And prior to this relationship, none of this anger was an issue in my life at all, EVER. So, how do I make that better? The situation he brought up, where I didn't believe him, btw, involved an ex of his, and not being able to reach him all night till 2 pm the next day!-- I didn't believe him INITIALLY when he told me what really happened because my fear of what I thought happened was way too strong!... I'm soooo over it now but obviously he carries it in his heart and it defines how he thinks I see him today! Phew... Just when I think things can't get any more crazy and deep and effed up between us.... THEY DO!

I told him that it is the impulsive jumping to conclusions/emotions that needs to be addressed because it comes up, whatever the situation. That in that moment what he was feeling was valid and true but how he acted towards me was not appropriate and disproportionate to what was going on! That is what I want him to deal with. And if he has some old feelings about me not believe in what he says as valid and true he needs to let that go because I don't feel that way about him. 

He's willing to discuss it with our counselor... try and dig deep to figure out why he holds these beliefs about how I see him. And that he will try not to react that way towards me again. I suggested talking to the Doc about possible Wellbutrin or something like that.... he started closing up. It's ok.... It's out there now so he can think about it.

Other than that we're still effed up. What else is new?! Not only that, but now I have to somehow address/apologize for my exploding like a crazy person on him without it leading to another 3 day fight! I actually through a water bottle across the room because I just lost it while he was deflecting blame onto me. Now, pretty much, his other point about, "I'm not the only one who has angry outbursts! You do too! So it's not a symptom of ADD, so just drop it about the ADD!" is proven true in his mind. He got what he wanted! Now he doesn't have to address the symptom of irritability, miserable-ness, moodiness, snappiness etc. Wonderful.

I just want to give up. Seriously. :'(

Ebb and flo, I'll make a deal

Ebb and flo, I'll make a deal with you since we seem to be riding on the same train. I will remind you that no matter what, you do not deserve being treated constantly like you are an annoying, stupid troll of a person by the One who should really be on your side. Adhd or no, you do not deserve constantly being in a situation where the other person is not trying to connect in a positive way. Does he take you for granted because you have been there, doing (and unknowingly, he was feeling inferior at the same time)? Are you an emotional punching bag. Does he ever come home any more with a sincere hug and big smile for you, saying "hi babe, love you! How was your day?". Seems so remote now doesnt it? Happiness and respect is something we all need and deserve. Verbal and physical abuse can wear a person down, even the brightest most educated people. So find your strength and your own safety net. The deal is, please, COULD YOU KEEP REMINDING ME OF THE SAME? Because when you love someone so much, normal reason apparently flies out the gosh darn window...

I second lululove.  A

I second lululove. 

A decision needs to be made here. What do you want from your life?   You cannot put this decision on the back burner. You must answer it and then go and make it happen.                                   

ebb and flow's picture


I know... that "decision" haunts me regularly... :'(

And when things get ugly like this, which they haven't for a while but always seem to when I need him to step to the plate the most, I feel like letting go. I feel like just saying "that's enough! I know you have ADHD but you are also human and should treat me like you give a damn and want to work positively on 'us'!"

I think today it just shocked the sh*t out of me to hear him say that he is "damaged" by me and my actions towards him. I know I sound all high and mighty and like I do no wrong and that's not where I'm coming from.... But, anything that I have done in this relationship HONEST TO ALL THINGS HOLY I haven't done elsewhere!!! He brings out the crazy in me!!! And it's not him I hate and am angry towards it's the ADD. Ok, well, that's a bit untrue because I am a little bit... no scratch that.... I am A LOT upset at the fact that he will not take charge of his damaging, relentless, ADHD symptoms and that he's letting them destroy us for good. It's just not fair and I feel it is really irresponsible of him. :(

This situation could be so easily resolved! And in the 'perfect world' in my head it goes like this:

"ha ha ha, I was gonna use your undershirt as a patch and jokingly stitch it to the sheets because I thought you were covering the rip up with it!!! ha ha ha"

"ha ha ha, that would've been funny if you did do that!!!"

"ha ha ha, I know right...?"


"you do know that I wasn't trying to cover the rip with my undershirt, right?"

"no, I thought you were....?"

"no, and to be honest, it kinda hurts my feelings that you would think that about me. Kinda like, I'm dishonest and would hide that from you. It makes me sort of feel like you think I'm childish or something.. you know?"

"oh baby... I don't think that about you!!! I was just joking around... I'm sorry if it hurt your feelings. You know I love you and don't think you're a child! I love you!!!"

"k, I love you too!"

"lets snuggle and watch a movie..."

"sounds great!!!" 

The end.

I wish.

That is where he needs to

That is where he needs to work on his end...we just had a similiar discussion about this in counseling this week since she got to see first hand how he gets defensive over just completely innocent 'suggestions' or 'ideas' I have about situations and thinks I'm saying he's too stupid to come up with them himself. I suggested something for a new employee he has (training classes) and boy he got defensive and it showed. She said "are you mad at Sherri for suggesting that?" to which he replied "yes, because it is like she thinks I'm stupid" She told him "this is YOUR problem. Your insecurities" and told him he needed to work on that..and that we would next time..as our session time was up.

What I try to do, that may help you too...I don't know..just trying to help...I always correct him right on the spot. "Hey, that's unfair. You're wrong in how you took that and you acting that way towards me is mean and unfair" I will even sometimes try and say "what about what I just said made you so mad? I really need to understand what you're thinking and I need you to understand what I said and why, from my point of view, you took it wrong". Explaining these things, drawing attention to them instead of retreating and being hurt (Ok to be hurt, but don't retreat from them just to avoid further problems...they'll never get solved that way). If he gets further frustrated with my explainations (the usual 'reasons' are that he felt I was calling him stupid or he felt I was trying to control him..neither of which are true) then I just say my peace and leave the situation so it cannot escalate anymore. He has to hear from you "this is wrong. This is unhealthy and this is making me very unhappy in our relationship. You are over reacting. You aren't understanding me and I am not understanding you. We sit down, we discuss these things. We don't blow up and yell and cuss each other"

Remain calm...try and find out what he's feeling and why and make sure he understands that his interpretation of what you're saying isn't what you were meaning...and also that you need these situations to be handled differently.

You're not to blame for his issues...you might make things worse by being drawn into the tornado and being angry and such...but you're certainly not responsible for him being "damaged". This is SOOO typical...please don't start to believe it...PLEASE.

ebb and flow's picture


You got it! :)

I want to say I'm sorry first

I want to say I'm sorry first as this forum is a little too heavy for me and too hard to follow, I can't read your entire post so I've had to skim through pretty much all that's been written here so I most likely have missed out on something or misunderstood something but I'll write anyway:

I understand your reaction to his logic about the sheet-snap. But I understand him even more. I think this is one of those things that the non-ADDer can never understand fully without having something similar in your life to relate to. Since we from the outside appear very lazy, childish, irresponsible (the list goes on) and the people on the outside that see this rarely has any ADD knowledge we have been treated a certain way since the day that we were expected to be able to handle things. Since you are with a grown-up man in his case we're talking a lot of years. Parents, teachers, former partners and sometimes even friends, all these people that have ever been in our life have made comments and lectured us because of the ADD and it's always the same words coming from them. So even though YOU haven't been treated him that way and even though YOU were joking.. you've only been there to see the tip of the ice berg shape.

Imagine instead if you had been beaten all your life by people that were your care takers and boyfriends. If your husband just as a joke raised his hand at you, how would you react to that? I dare to say that I'd probably cuss him out.

Though as I said I haven't been able to read everything properly so I understand there are more situations etc to all the emotions you are feeling but maybe that can explain a little bit as to why he snaps "so easily". I tend to snap at my husband asking if I have done something. As in "Did you send that letter today?". He is just asking nicely to check cause he needs to know but I of course didn't send it and in my mind I think I can anticipate the fight cause he will get angry that I didn't send it. So I snap in self defense. However I am working hard on this and gotten a lot better, I rarely do that anymore but it was a hard battle to change that.

Another thing I want to point out though is that sure ADD comes with some bad temper and other less fun traits. But don't mistake ADD for ***hole. ADD doesn't make a person mean, a shitty personality does.

ebb and flow's picture



You sound just like my partner as I read your post!!!

I know this is where it's all coming from... I'm getting all the blame but I know this is deeper than me and our relationship combined!

What I don't like is that he wont address it. Talk to our therapist about it all and/or his doc. He's got mega issues and I'm not a Saint who can sit there and not feel hurt and/or worn down by his calloused external behaviours due to his 'broken over time' insides.

There has to come a point in time where he recognizes how he's acting inappropriately and where it all stems from. And in that recognition some desire to change it for the sake of his peace of mind and maybe, just maybe, to save our bloody relationship from drowning COMPLETELY.

Thank you for your clarifying my situation even further... I can use all the help!


You say he won't address it

You say he won't address it but are you sure he understands it? We're all different, some analyze their feelings and some just take them as they come. Maybe he just isn't one of those that really try to get to the bottom of his own reactions. I think that is kind of common.

You shouldn't have to pay for it all, it's not your fault that his past has been hard. It sounds like you really try to get through to him but maybe you can try different approaches? If you try to think about the times you've tried to tell him about this, or the times you have talked about this, do you always follow the same pattern? As in how you say it, when etc? Maybe if you find a way to help him see this from a different angle he'll look at it differently?

You also say "our" therapist, does this mean you meet with this person too? Have you in that case told the therapist about this? Maybe a professional can reach that extra little inch needed for this to take a step forward?

I'm glad I can help! Even more than being an ADDer, I really feel for all of you out there in love, married or not, fighting for your relationships out of love as I also have someone I love very much and would walk through fire for. That's the team I want to play for!

ebb and flow's picture


I think you may be correct. (again)

He doesn't seem to feel comfortable opening up to me about deep underlying issues that may be the cause for his over-reactions and/or defensiveness. He told me last night while we talked about it AGAIN that he didn't want to talk about where it may stem from because the conversation was too "emotionally charged" for him to open up. But, he's willing to bring it up at the counselors... I'm happy he's at least going to try to talk about it. I hope he follows through.

You're right when you say I shouldn't have to pay for it---even if a part of why he feels defensive is something I did a long time ago! We're suppose to be able to move forward from our wrongs and what am I suppose to do for poor actions I've committed in the past? I can't go back with a time machine and change them... We both need to stay in the present and deal with things NOW. He can't hold those actions against me forever and I don't know what I can do now to help him realize I'm not feeling that way now. I hope he can let it go and trust me again. I don't even really know what it is I've done, other than (and it's huge, don't get me wrong) the typical assuming the mother role in the beginning before I understood what was going on, offering my 'guidance' which is read to be controlling, asking him for help around the house or with heavy lifting, etc, which he takes as ordering him around. I'm not sure HONESTLY what I've done to screw HIM up.... I think this may be older than us... Like, past past stuff. 

We both go to the counselor together. We're going to bring it up next session on the 24th.

Thank you again for all your insight!!! :))

Do you go to counseling with

Do you go to counseling with him? Are you going to make certain that this issue is discussed and dealt with?

A couple of other things I think might help you in maintaining your daily peace for the time being...once you make a point, make it a point not to discuss it with him until you are in a counseling session and have a 'referee' if it cannot be discussed without either of you getting mad. When his defenses go up and he snaps, like over the hole in the sheet, it is more about every.teacher.peer.boss.old-girlfriend.relative that has ever told him "you're stupid, lazy, immature, need to grow up!" etc than it is about you. Not to say you haven't done things to add to it, we all do it as a natural reaction to the crazy BS ADHD brings into our lives, but this is his issue and one that needs to be dealt with. Another thing, as nuts as his 'feelings/explanations' might seem to you, can you accept that they probably are his reality? Can you see where this might lead him to feel frustrated? In their minds they are just as valid in their interpretations as we are. Realistically, they are. Where his issue comes in is the way he handles it. Ok, great...so he feels like you were going to attack him...then he needs to say "I wasn't hiding the hole and it really bothers me that you would think that of me"

I am not being an advocate for his behaviors...honest to God I'm not. I do feel compelled to sometimes argue his case because I can, after years of experience, see where he's probably coming from. As crazy as it sounds, their reality is theirs...and for us to just completely deny them the right to feel a certain way because it seems insane to us, is just as wrong as what they do to us. He is taking things you say in a very wrong way and snapping at you because of it, NOTHING about that is OK. But, the truth of the matter is, you have to find out HOW to get through to him and this is where things get tricky. So many times our counselor can make my husband 'see' things that I cannot. He trusts her motives, he doesn't trust mine (partially due to my past behaviors, partially due to the past behaviors of so many others). For topics such as this, we leave it for counseling. If we cannot agree, do not see the other's perspective, we leave it for counseling.

I can also honestly say that 'guidance' is seen as 100% controlling. Yes, it is wrong for them to think that our innocent suggestions are a back handed way of calling them stupid, or a word of advice is seen as us trying to control them...or better yet, if we have a feeling (it really hurts my feelings that you XXX) then we're being controlling. However, until someone can get through to them that this is as much THEIR issue as anything else, the blame will always fall on you. What I feel you need most (aside from boundaries) is a counselor that will sit him down and make him see how wrong his reactions are.

You are not being controlled by him...you are being controlled by his ADHD. It isn't under control...just because he is taking Ritalin does not mean he has anything at all under control. His mood swings and angry outbursts need to be addressed ASAP. You cannot live your life walking around on eggshells.

ebb and flow's picture


We do go to counseling but are both rethinking our therapist because she's a little awkward when it comes to emotions.... 

I do believe he is entitled to his own feelings and view/perception of how things are between us. He developed them, sadly through a lot of our arguing and over the years from past girlfriends, teachers, parents, bosses, etc.

We talked about this and he categorized his over-reaction under "defensive over nothing". We agreed to go to the counselor to discuss this with her and get to the deep root of it all. He did not feel safe enough to be vulnerable with me during our talk about it yesterday because he said our conversation was too "emotionally charged". I understood and gave him space and can't wait to bring it up to the therapist to see what she says.

I know a lot of our issues are not just the "surface stuff". There is a whole lot of hurt and pain and pre-conceived notions we've both developed over time. I'm sure I'm a little bit broken from my past too. This is what we need to work on to be whole and approach each other as whole beings.

My fear is that our therapist will not see a reason to discuss these deep issues.

My fear is that he will back away from discussing it.

My fear is that we will not go deep enough and it will not be healed thereby break the cycle.

My fear is that she may suggest he see her alone to discuss it and he wont follow through...

So many fears... I just want it all to disappear! :(

...at least yours

...at least yours apologizes.  Mine convinces himself that everything was my fault and sticks with it for days.  It's humiliating.  I guess the universal ADD explosions are due to feelings of insecurity, but where are all the king's horses and men (to try and put Humpty-dumpty back together) after all of these meaningless arguments?  It's like having a live grenade in the house.

sullygrl's picture

live grenades?

Robin -  maybe it's not the ADD that does this deflection...I wonder how much is refusal to admit to or deal with ADD/ADHD. But I know mine is the king of deflection and hand grenade lobbing as well. When I try and talk about the memory issues, he then just says "oh yea, well you spend too much money". I'll say ok, but I don't know what that has to do with your memory. No I am not perfect, I have actually been seeing a therapist and taking medication for years for my own mental health issues (severe depression, low self esteem, blah blah) but I ACKNOWLEDGE that I have issues and work on them dangblammit. You yell at me when I indicate that me reminding you for the tenth time is perhaps, something you might want to deal with. Never mind, I'll just up my meds and be sitting in that corner over there.