This is my first time properly posting here, but I have been reading through thread after thread for a while now and I cannot even begin to express how helpful this has all been. I feel like I am on my way to better understanding my ADHD husband’s reactions and triggers and feel as though there is hope for us and that there are things we can work on to improve our relationship, which had started to seem like it was doomed. But I’m still struggling with trying to figure out how to react and cope with my husband’s short temper and rages, which is what brings me to actually post.
What is happening now is like a chaotic cycle of cause and effect that leaves us both spinning and I would like to figure out how to break that.
Cause: It seems like the smallest things sets him off, he over-reacts to things that are just a part of everyday life and he is ALWAYS right, no matter what the situation. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to talk to him without things turning into a fight. He has been working a lot lately and is exhausted and stressed and all of that ends up being taken out on me. Even if it isn’t about me, I end up being where he focuses his energy or I end up being in the line of fire.
Effect: I take all of his words and frustration and aggression very personally, which makes me feel as though I need to stand up for myself and not let him walk all over me. I have always been a very independent and opinionated woman, something he often praises me for. And to me, it feels like if I recognize the reasons why he is angry and reacting that way and let the situation diffuse or if I comfort and calm him down, I am giving in to this behaviour and making it seem like it is okay for him to say some of the cruel and hurtful things he says to me. Basically, I feel weak and like a doormat if I just take it and don’t push back.
Cause: So I push back. I tell him that he can’t talk to me like that and that he is being rude and cruel and I'm not going to take it. Which of course he doesn’t respond well to and the fight escalates to another level.
Effect: To avoid all this, I go to the complete opposite side of the spectrum and end up walking on eggshells around him in order to avoid setting him off and I try to maintain a peaceful environment by avoiding speaking my mind or standing my ground. A change in demeanor that he notices and questions and something that makes me feel like I am not my own woman and I am just his punching bag. And then I start to feel insecure and vulnerable and vie for his attention and reassurance and he doesn’t understand why I’m acting like that, so he irritably brushes me off, which makes me feel more neglected and we continue to spiral in that pattern until we’re both exhausted.
I’m struggling so much with what to do and with this sense of myself, with how I can remain confident and secure in who I am and in our relationship without feeling like everything he is saying is directed at me personally and requires me to push back against him. I want to be able to be that strong woman, to not take his words personally and support and empathize with him when he is in a state like this, but I feel like I am just accepting him lashing out and I’m volunteering to be a punching bag.
Is there a middle ground? Is this just a perception of things I have in my head that I need to get past? Is part of choosing a partnership with these ADHD struggles just to accept this?
I genuinely just want to make sense of this, or figure out what I can do to will help us break this cycle and hopefully avoid a lot of the recent unnecessary blow ups we have been having.
[Brief relationship background: Have known each other for 10+ years, been together for 5. He's been diagnosed since childhood and continues to take medication. This was not a surprise to me getting into things, but I did not realize how much of an impact it had on him and would have on me and our relationship until we moved in together two years ago.]