Why does my ADHD husband feel that he gets along with "everyone else but me" ???

I am desperate and feel that my 13 year marriage is on the brink of divorce.  My husband found out a few years ago that he has ADHD (our 7 year old son was diagnosed shortly thereafter with PDD/NOS and ADHD).  I purchased a copy of Melissa's book on the ADHD Effect on Marriage in the hopes that it would help us (well, just me for now).  My husband is on medication now but everyday starting usually around noon, his meds seem to wear off and he is very quick to anger and verbal abuse.  Today, he asked me.. "So, what's wrong? Are you just always going to be like this?"  I told him I feel like I am walking on eggshells because I don't know if what I want to say to make him angry.  Then, I took a chance and brought up the idea of looking into help for his ADHD and how it may be affecting our marriage.  Oh!!!! He blew up, "I see..  so it's ALL MY FAULT?!" he yelled.  I calmly explained that I had been doing some research and bought a book about it and it really seemed to describe our problems.  He went on with, "Let me guess... this book, was it written by a WOMAN?!?!?"  This is typical of the rude comments I hear daily from him.  It is really wearing me down, emotionally.  I feel that I don't have much fight left in me, but I am scared to be on my own with no job, no money, 3 dear pets and my son - very scary thought, but I can't stand this much longer...

As I was trying to put Melissa's book in a "nutshell" description (my husband does NOT like to read) he asked me, "Well, tell me then why do I get along with everyone but YOU???  Everything in my life is fine except for You." (more hurt...)

Please help Dr. Orlov (and anyone else!!!)  I don't know what to do.  I feel like I am putting on an act and have lost who I am as a person!

Thank you so much,

Sad in Florida

Get's along...

I'll give this a shot. I'm an ADDer and did not know that I had ADD until about 2.5 years ago at age 43. I have always been a laid-back, fly under the radar kind of guy and this has served me well in the conflict avoidance arena. I let people see what I wanted them to see and all of these people have something in common. They are not with me on a continual basis morning, noon and night. The limited time spent with all the "Part-Timers" is easy to deal with and more or less time with them is under my control in most cases. My DW has to deal with me and me with her all the time. Couples experience all the good and bad each other has to offer. A very common ADD thought is the "Grass must be greener someplace else". Because we cannot perceive/notice all the traits of someone we don't live with, it is easy to conclude that your spouse is the hardest to deal with because they are in the "Now". Things from past relationships can be skewed because we forget many details, unless they are really bad, so we can "Think" people from our past were easier to deal with than present day.

I know nothing I say will help you feel better, but I hope some of this makes a little sense.

Losing myself

Thank you YYZ.  It really helps to hear from someone with ADD (and a man at that!)  I find it very hard to answer my husband's very rhetorical questions.  He is a real "pro" at talking in a way that leaves me frequently stumped and feeling.... well, stupid (as he calls me a lot).  After reading some other posts, I can see now that he must feel very guilty and can only express it through blaming me for literally EVERYTHING.  My husband travels frequently in his job and I find myself looking forward to when he leaves the house.  It gives me a chance to breath and reclaim some of my previous, confident and happy self.  The last couple days, I have been unable to talk to him.  I have tried approaching him in a completely calm and non-confrontational way (like, "How did you sleep last night?") but he just mumbles some non-coherent response.  I feel like he HATES me.  I don't deserve to be treated this way, but I cannot get him to focus any of this on himself.  He is drowning in the "blame game" and cannot see at all what he is doing to me.  I read posts where other ADDers say, "I wish I had only known..." and I want that SO much for my husband to have that realization before I leave this marriage.  It's just so hard.  I feel like I have compromised myself way, way too much in this marriage.  I am not the person I used to be and I am worried that our son will learn to treat women in his life with the same disrespect.

Sorry for unloading.... I feel completely lost and miserable.

I'm glad to help :)

It seems that my couples dynamic may have helped it's survival to this point. I have ADD, but I'm not blaming and angry at my DW. I feel bad with any failures to her. My DW does not have ADD, but has Anxiety/Anger problems that do get pointed at me. I used to be Very Laid-Back, which balanced my DW's Non-Laid-Back traits. We always had a kind of co-dependent balance I guess. So the weird thing is that since my diagnosis and treatment began 2.5 years ago, we have really had more fights and tension than before my diagnosis. Certainly there was a loss of trust when my cracks were revealed and I continue to rebuild this through consistent actions, but now that I can actually communicate my opinion during disagreements and keep my cool, my DW is still adjusting to the Not One-Sided Arguments we used to have. My guilt was overwhelming at first, but I have not stopped working on myself since the diagnosis. 

Regarding feeling like he hates you... Remember, when an ADDer is on over-load we can be truly dead faced and I'm sure it looks ugly, but I fake my expressions all day long to keep perceptions and they are the first to go at the end of a long day. It takes so much energy to blend in... I never realized how bad my facial expressions were until after diagnosis. Since I was oblivious to seeing most expressions on other people, it's only logical that we cannot do them well.

Melissa pointed out that my DW seems to cling to the Martyr Role with her anger. I guess if she keeps her shields up she won't be taken away when I screw something up again... The anger is something She has to work on, just as your DH must accept his ADD and Anger. Your spouse is the only one who can stop this blame/guilt/anger cycle. 

I am truly sorry you are miserable and feel free to unload any time...


As is frequently the case, YYZ is right on the money.  Any person who is struggling to control some particular tendency (whether ADHD or not) will get tired over time.  And we usually spend most of our time with out spouses when they are "tired" and not as able to keep a lid on it.

I asked my guy once why he thought it was okay to treat the people he loved worse than the strangers he dealt with all day.  He said "I have to be nice to people all day and I should just be able to be myself when I get home!"  He immediately heard his own words and said "I know that's awful, but it's how I feel."  Then, "It isn't right, and I'll try to save some of my 'nice guy' for my family."

The ability to "focus" on good social behavior while at work might be a case of applying a coping mechanism most often where they feel it is most critical to do so.  And the tendency to "blame" when they feel they have failed is also a case of applying a coping mechanism.   Everyone tends to show their worst to "loved ones", probably because it is the only safe place to do so.  The solution lies in not finding a way to make it "unsafe" to blame, but to make it "safe" to not blame. 

I will agree with YYZ and

I will agree with YYZ and Gardener. I have often been a target of all of his days worth of frustration that he CANNOT take out on anyone else, so it gets taken out on me. Not only that, but marriages are hard work and ADHD are famous for retreating from/avoiding anything involving hard work. One can argue that this is a poor coping skill that has been learned, or they can argue that the ADHD brain is affected in areas that control emotions so any situation requiring the 'use' of emotions is going to be much more difficult for them. They aren't emotionally invested in the strangers they meet day-in and day-out. The fear of failing them isn't a factor. The feeling of 'never being good enough' or 'always to blame' when it comes to us is very real...and often valid...but it is as much in their minds as it is ours. They know they're behaving in a hurtful way just as much as we do. Often they lack the skills necessary to stop the hurtful behavior.

Having said that, I have often asked myself as well..'would I treat any other family member this way?' and the answer is no. One can argue 'they would never treat you the way your husband does' and that is 100% true, however his behavior should not dictate mine and who I want to be as a human being and how I want to treat people. I am smack dab in the middle of working on this issue and if/when the time comes that my marriage ends I will at least know that he cannot say I didn't do everything humanly possible. I am not sure if this applies to you, often these marriages get in the ditch because they behave horribly and we react horribly and start to behave in ways that are just as destructive to the marriage as theirs are.

So, to start I would suggest you reflect on what your part/role might be in the current dynamics of your marriage and start there. Identify issues that you might need help with, based on what you read in Melissa's book, and focus on getting to a place where you can say "ok, I've worked on myself and I've stopped reacting and stopped controlling (or whatever your case may be) and now I need you to meet me half way"

The denial that ADHD affects the marriage is one of the hardest walls to break through...but I truly believe if there is any chance it starts with US changing ourselves first and often that includes change that comes in the form of demanding better for ourselves and having the strength to walk away if we don't get it. ((HUGS)) Sherri

summerwine's picture

What if you made it about

What if you made it about tweaking his meds because they don't seem to be lasting very long and they are making him more irritable? What about talking about how you guys both needs to fix things and not about how he is broken because of his ADHD and needs to get fixed? cause that would make anyone defensive you know? Maybe you could get him Hallowell's book on tape? It's by a man who is ADHD and was written to be ADHD friendly. I found it easier to read than Melissa's book. Books on tape are great. I pop the CD in and listen while I am at work. I have a boring job so I can do that. But my ex husband used to say things like that to me too and guess what? he doesn't have ADHD I do! (((hugs))) I know it hurts!

Re: Valsarah

Melissa has said this better than I will say it I wish I could find it (either in the book or website) real quick I will keep looking and edit this post if I find it.

It goes something like; everyone else he interacts with isn't dependant on him on an intimate day to day basis.  More than that no one else has the visibility into "how" he does things most of the time they just see the result or glimpses of the work in progress.  Most folks don't care "how" it gets done as long as it gets done right, on time and per the requirements.  Add on top of it the emotional, intimate relationship that accompanies marriage (and the expectations associated) it creates a powerful postive or negative opportunity.  I think it comes down to expectations are higher of your partner in marriage and your visibility into their everyday gives you an all access pass to the show.  Your sitting front row and its Gallagher on stage.

Great explanation

Thank you for this explanation.  It makes total sense.  My problem is that I don't want to sit in the front row anymore :(