What to do about his endless anger-triggering thoughts

What I saw:

Him walking over to the table and throwing a stack of paper onto the table with an angry expression on his face.

Him sitting back in his chair and angrily throwing a pencil and some papers on the table.

Saying disrespectful, unkind things to me, like "You can leave. Go away!" in front of the kids.

Calling a timeout but not circling back to the conversation, nor starting the talk again.

Being sarcastic towards me when we were leaving to get on a plane. "Send me your complaints!" was the last thing he called after me as I walked away.

I asked him what he thought was going on, what he saw, and his long email rant went on for pages, but here's the gist of it:

I saw him working on his laptop, when I knew that he had other things he needed to be doing if we were going to get out of there in time to get my son. I said, "You can do that later. I'm just trying to help." His trigger thoughts were as follows: She assumes the worst in me. She is trying to control my behaviors. She is saying I'm doing something wrong. She thinks she knows better. She thinks I don't know what I'm doing. She doesn't trust me. She only harps on the negative aspects of my ADHD. She complains about me nonstop. She acts like she's the only one who cares about our relationship. All these thoughts made him very angry, and he felt justified in raising his voice, shutting me out, and then getting mean and sarcastic with me.

How can I tell him that he has a responsibility to manage his own thoughts so he doesn't get furious 6 times a day?

I am new to the forum but I

I am new to the forum but I wanted to start my first post in response to you. 

My husband has some of the same hair-trigger responses which can really hurt me for days. I know he doesn't mean it, but the ADHD makes him so volatile, I call them "rage attacks." 

When he's on his game, he's the sweetest most loveable guy you can know. That is how the world at large sees him, because he is so focused on being the "nice guy" at work and in the neighborhood who everyone likes. When he gets home and his mind either races after he stops focusing on work or engaged with other people in public, and he turns off. It's as if he just shuts down and the other behaviors take over, e.g. lack of attention, hyperactive, thoughts racing, aggressive, indifference to me and the kids. etc  When I do approach him, I'm never guaranteed any kind of response. It's strange, in the two decades of marriage, I do not believe we have *ever* had a single intimate conversation about our goals and desires for the future. He just doesn't go there. at. all. And if I should press him, he'll lash out and accuse me of being a "narcissist" and other unsavory terms.

This in turns, makes me depressed and critical and extremely isolated because I feel like I'm not talking to anyone but a hologram, especially the last 5+ years, since our second child was diagnosed with profound autism, and I am making correlations. There is no real exchange of thoughts. Just the other night, he was to take our son somewhere as we had explicitly discussed. When the time came near, I packed a thermos of hot chocolate for the cold weather and tried to get him off the couch. Finally after many attempts, he gets up and starts out but not before he hisses within earshot: "that hot chocolate better not be cold. I'm not drinking cold milk." Even after I heated it, packed it -- all out of concern they might be cold but also thinking that it would be a great bonding time for son to share a warm drink with his father. DH acted as though none of that forethought ever entered my mind. That senseless remark made me so sad and feel such a failure I can never be appreciated as a spouse. When they came home later, he acted like nothing happened, I could tell he was thrilled to be there and schmoozing it up with the general public.

As I said, these things that happen behind closed doors made me worse in my depression and I am due to go on Wellbutrin to help those negative type confrontations slide off my back. I am actually wondering if Wellbutrin would be good for my dh too... supposedly these atypical medications for depression works on those behaviors such as quick to temper, quick to react without forethought ADHD. I just wish I knew if meds would work so his public life would turn into the same in his private life with his family. I almost feel ashamed to have to put on a facade when we go visit others, it feels like a big lie to me. :(



DragonTamerWife's picture

Thank you SAH

Thank you SAH, for your response. It does help to hear I'm not alone. I've been the "patient" for the last ten years of our marriage. Going on anti-depressants, seeking help for my anxiety, even taking an "anger management" course at his insistence. I chose to do all those things, because I want to make sure I'm doing all I can for me, and for our marriage. What shocked me, after reading Orlov's book, was how much his ADHD has affected our marriage, and how silently. We've been to four therapists, the last one Harvard trained and commanding a whopping $400 a session. We saw him for two plus years. Got some help, but NONE of them ever saw what the ADHD was doing to us. They addressed some of the symptoms: the piling on of complaints, criticisms, ideas, words, words, words that he does. The interrupting. The disconnecting. But no one ever made the connection to the ADHD. That is what has shocked me, and sent me into a period of grief. I'm grieving for our lost years, grieving for all those times I thought I was crazy, grieving for my own neglected self. 

I've learned a lot about myself, and I do have a part in it, but now I see how his part in it has played a major, major role. 

And he refuses to even bring up the subject of medication. I've told him it's his body, he gets to choose, but I think once I get out of this grief period, I'm going to have to lay down the gauntlet and tell him he needs treatment, or I'm leaving him. 

We have a 20 month old baby boy, who is the light of my life, so I don't want to see us separate. He loves his Daddy, loves both of us--carries around our honeymoon picture and kisses it (!) I just can't NOT do everything in my power to save this marriage of 10 years. But it's his turn to do some work. 

He's said he'll do the January class. I still hope registration is open. Is yours open to taking the course? 


I'm afraid I might have gone

I'm afraid I might have gone on and on and did not actually give you any advice about how to deal with your struggle, but I'm glad you do not feel as alone in this.

As I'm new to the online support forum, I've been in "outlet mode", so much pent up for the last 20 years. I too, feel like I've lost a lot in growing together, growing as a person. Lost so much in terms of experiences (never companion traveled, very little if any excursions like other couples do.) The latter hurts the most because I love that sort of thing and in my mind I always wanted to do it with my husband only. I still have hope that we'll do things upon retirement. As for the former, I've learned a lot about my own demons, doing a lot of self therapy in depth psychology. I knew I couldn't lose my own center or identity but it's tough and I need the meds before I drown in the muck.

As for being the "patient", I've been on so many for the last decade I have to humor myself at least I'm narrowing these meds down, even if it takes forever ;)  It does feel incredibly ironic that we are the ones who need to take some kind of mood stabilizer in order to deal with our adhd relationships. Halfway into the marriage (~7 yrs) I started having hypertensive palpitations, high anxiety whenever dh would come home from work. This was also shortly after our youngest was diagnosed with profound autism so there was a huge amount of stress. It was only after I started making correlations between our autistic child and my dh's character traits which were similar - outbursts, sudden irrational actions, disconnect with family members, etc. that I came to believe dh had undiagnosed ADHD.

I had not realize it was ADHD all those years. I knew he would come home and start ragging at me to answer impossible questions that I could never answer (i.e. what day are his DVDs arriving in the mail), or drop everything to look for items he misplaced every day (i.e. his checkbook he left in the attic, tho he insisted he never brought it up there, so I spent a day and a half looking for his checkbook - everywhere but the attic. I was just livid and disheartened when I decided to check the attic and found it right on the couch up there). My anxiety and stress had gotten so bad and I was trapped and I had to have my mother intervene to tell dh to back off. He behaved a bit better after that as he actually felt shame but I'm almost embarrassed that my mother has to know, I'm supposed to be a grown woman. :(  Does anyone in your family know of the struggles?

I don't think we're ready to do the course yet....  my dh has to be diagnosed first (coming up very soon and it can't be soon enough as I've reached critical mass) and I pray this neurologist he's seeing will be able to properly access him. And goddess-willing, will have proper medication to start on right away. I am even open to relationship therapy as it pertains to the ADHD in marriage. I am less likely to enter into the traditional marriage counseling because I know we both fall into our scripts very easily, and he is the more charismatic one so I do not feel at all secure in a controlled setting like that with just a counselor who may not see through his charm. Here is something interesting... the reason why my dh softened to even going to the doctor (it took me 5+ years to convince him to seek help to relieve his suffering and I know his mind races so much I think he becomes irrational) was because he has friends who gravitate toward him because they are ADHD themselves and they have asked him whether he's considered he's got ADHD, or have come out and told him "ADHD, ya think?". So it's been pure coincidence he meets these sorts of people in his line of work. They mentioned Adderall to him and his mind seems set on getting it if he has to go there.


My gosh your little baby boy sounds like the most adorable child!! You have your baby and he has you... keep him happy and his unconditional love will help you through so much! My boys are a bit older and I am ashamed to admit, when I was at the height of my frustration, I would vent to the oldest. Children don't need that. They want to feel safe, and in time they really know what each parent is up to (or not up to) in their childhood (participation vs negligence).