You can't make me do anything!

OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANCE SYMPTOMS:  Adults with ODD defend themselves relentlessly when someone says they've done something wrong. They feel misunderstood and disliked, hemmed in and pushed around. Some feel like mavericks or rebels.   WHAT CAUSES ODD?  It's unclear. It could be that a pattern of rebellion sets in when children with ADHD are constantly at odds with adults who are trying to make them behave in ways that their executive function deficit prohibits. By the time kids have had ADHD symptoms for two or three years, 45 to 84 percent of them develop ODD, too.

Now add a spouse who tries to make things better HER WAY...the only way she knows how to be a mother and wife.  Guess who is the authority figure for the rest of their home life together no matter how far out she goes to be warm and compassionate and compromising and understanding and supportive as she can be?  She is still an authority figure to rebel against.  The more she tries to partner, the more he feels the need to go his own way and do his own thing to feel his own power covertly.  This is my observation and conclusion in what has been happening in my world.  Come to think of it, DH was never one to join team sports...perferred golf.


I was DX-H's 4th wife. Sometimes I felt like the only reason he wanted to be married was to have someone to push against, someone to say "NO!" to. He wouldn't lead, he wouldn't follow, and he wouldn't get out of the way.

And my dear son's first full phrase when he began talking was, "Don't tell me 'ut to do!"


I feel your pain. I have

I feel your pain. I have often asked why does everything have to be an argument to make any change around the house or yard? I realized one day that I was very hesitant to mention to him anything I thought of updating (even just putting mulch in my small flower garden) because I never know what his reaction will be and typically if I mention it to him he goes into a full blown tantrum about why I can't do whatever it is. So if I don't just go ahead and do stuff then it won't happen because he will argue/yell me down. It's like some strange power thing. I've told him that he tries to control me and the way he talks to me is verbally abusive, but he just seems to be in complete denial. What can you do when your husband has both ADHD and ODD and refuses to get help?  He sent me a text this morning as he drove out of town to work that he does want to talk about things, after I didn't sleep in our bedroom last night. I guess that sort of got his attention, but I can only imagine what our "talk" will look like since it is next to impossible for him to listen due to his inattentiveness so he constantly interrupts with mundane unrelated topics and/or gets extremely defensive and goes on a rant that is almost totally unrelated to anything I was talking to him about. I am just so worn out. I know I'm depressed because all I have done or cared to do is sleep for the last few days. I want him to understand that I do not have to put up with his disrespect and that I will not tolerate it; if it means me leaving, then that's what it means.

Thanks for the definition and

Thanks for the definition and explanation. I've long thought that my hubby has ODD in addition to the ADHD. He loves to lock horns with just about anyone. It's part of the reason that he lost his job in law enforcement. He butted heads with his superiors for the first year and half until I observed that he wouldn't get very far unless he started towing the line. He did but then by then, the damage had been done (this in addition to having an issue with time management).

And then there's the whole just not wanting to do what he knows he supposed to. We've lived the majority of marriage separated (beyond a few months here and there) until recently. We had jobs in different cities, but it still took him nearly seven months to move in with me once I ended up in the same city. I never for the live of me could understand why he said he loved me and wanted to stay married but couldn't rouse himself to move in with me. But I try to consider as water under the bridge now.

He has started to chill a bit, but if you hit him on a bad day (i.e. when he's stressed)...beware. I had this misfortune on Sunday. I asked him where his money had gone and he started listing all the reasons why, followed by whining how he only had $40 to get through the week. When I said, "I wish I had $40 to get through the week", he snapped, "Well you should have budgeted better!" I felt like clawing his eyes out but managed to calmly say, "That is very hurtful. You know that I pay all the bills and budget down to the last dollar." His response was to try to break the refrigerator door. So you can't win for losing apparently.

Not ODD just ADHD

Well to me this is a pretty straight forward translation.     I don’t know what discussion happened before asking him where his money had gone but just to start from this point…

Lack of money, as I’m sure you know all too well, is inherently frustrating.  If you struggling to make ends meet then there is going to be stress, and there is also going to be frustration.   Culturally in western society men are still largely seen as the breadwinner, one of our main traditional roles is to provide and in modern life this means income, and it is still the case the worth of a man is often judged by how successful he is in providing financially.  If there is a lack of money, then we often feel we are failing.  Like I said this is a deep seated cultural, if stereotypical role, but don’t ever underestimate just how large this looms in our sense of personal worth.   

If as an ADD’er we struggle to keep down a job or get stuck in low paid jobs with little or no prospects then there is a double whammy sense of failure. As our partners you play a large part in either exacerbating or helping neutralizing this.  Chances are if you are fully honest with yourself you are you not immune to the expectation that we should provide well for the family, we can sense and feel your disappointment and critical judgment in our inability to live up to your expectations.    We may have few acutely tuned social antenna, but our ability to sense even the slightest affirmation of our own feelings of failure from our loved ones is absolutely one of them.

First up $40 a week is not much, I certainly could not manage on that amount and I am not a reckless spender, it costs me $10 a day for train fares, $5-$8.50 a day for coffee, depending on if I have one or two, add to that the things that just come up and it just doesn’t go very far.
So likely your husband is/was feeling frustrated at the lack of money, as well as feeling like  failure that there is not more to go around,  so when you asked him where his money had gone; He would I think have taken it as…

“She is treating me like a child again, I feel frustrated and ashamed by how little we have to go around, now I have to justify myself on where that small amount has gone, she is accusing me of being irresponsible and not being able to manage money” So right now he is on the defensive, he starts listing his spending, feeling like a child being interrogated by his mother, then he opined that $40 is not a lot to get through the week. He owns this thought, and it is his legitimate view.
You then took it of him and effectively told him he has no right to feel that way because “I wish I had $40 to get through the week",     So now it’s game on, you have in his mind accused him of selfishness, of failing to provide, you have told him he has no rights to the way he feels, this is evident by your characterisation of him “whining”.  He feels under attack and devalued because his own head he is fighting constantly against a sense that he is a failure as a husband, as a father and as a functional person.  You have just confirmed the view that you think he is as well.
So now instead of maintaining control, and filtering the input/output response as non-ADHD people do, you husband is *unable* to,  deficits in both the Amygdala ( responsible for rapid emotional response )and the Anterior Cingulate (responsible for modulation of emotional response) mean he emotionally reacts in a rapid way without modulation.   He “explodes” or has an “amygdala hijack” (look it up) event made worse by almost no capacity to rationalise or modulate his response.
So with a flash of anger and frustration he says the first thing that comes to mind,  remember he hasn’t paused to think about what he is suggesting, merely shooting from the hip.  

"Well you should have budgeted better!"    

Now you stayed calm, in that you were able to modulate your response, but then when on to say;    

"That is very hurtful. You know that I pay all the bills and budget down to the last dollar."

So now he interprets that as; he has blurted out something stupid that has hurt you and made you mad, even if you appear calm, he suspects, as is often the case, that you are angry at him.   You then went on to confirm his suspicion in his own mine by reinforcing that it is *you* that pays the bills because he is too (lazy, disorganised, forgetful, stupid, etc.) and that *you* budget down to the last dollar because you are the responsible one in the relationship, and someone has to be because he will never step up to the plate, as a result of his being effectively useless you get no money to live on (the $40) and he does.

Thus you have come full circle, in his mind you have backed him into a corner and effectively confirmed those things that he is so used to hearing from everyone, as well as the super critic in his own head.   He can’t escape, even from the one person who is supposed to love him most of all. 
Overwhelmed his brain responds in the only way it knows how, by a sudden unrestrained outburst of frustration. The fridge cops it.        
Now it is important that I make it clear that in no way am I blaming *you* for this situation, this is simply a communication issue come about as a result of functional brain differences. It is *biological*.   

So if I look at this from my own ADHD brain, I probably would have done more or less exactly as your husband did, maybe not as drastic with the fridge,  but my thought processes would have been very similar.     

I know it is hard when you probably just want push him in front of a bus for being so difficult, but the way to avoid and defuse this from spiraling out of control was pretty simple; at the point of discussion where him having no money left came up, you just had to give him a reassuring, understanding hug, and agree with him that the lack of funds is a real struggle. Empathise by agreeing that you like him are struggling with the lack of money, seek and *listen* to his opinion on what he thinks you could both do to better the situation, in the discussion it is possible to bring up the fact that you don’t get $40, but context is likely to be key, indicate that at the end of the week between you, you have X dollars, let him do the mental math.    Also make a point of involving him in the budgeting process, that way he has underlying knowledge, else he might in an irrational ADHD way be thinking you have access to funds he doesn’t know about.      

In this way it will empower both of you. You will only get a positive response if you act as a bit of a filter and regulator for his thought; if he feels attacked as above you are wasting your time and emotional capital even trying.

Obviously for some here meds will help a great deal but I can’t really comment on this because they don’t work for me at all.   

I know this seems like a minor thing and that we should just role with the punches, but the fact is we can’t, no matter how we try or might want to.    If my wife takes the time to frame things that work for my munted brain,  it makes an enormous difference to our relationship, and I do understand that in a busy life this can be hard, and you are most likely harboring boat loads of long held resentment, but it is the only way that communication with an ADHD person will work if the aim of the game is a  workable relationship.  

I don't think there is much

I don't think there is much listening to be had. He's very much a fight or flight's flight whenever an uncomfortable subject comes up and if I force the issue, then it's fight. He has since apologized for acting that way and I have thought about trying to sit down and ask him more about his pay schedule, so I can remind him to give me the money before he spends it.

What you said makes plenty of sense, though it's no less hard to digest. I do understand the whole frustration surrounding the fact that he's not the breadwinner. His dad rides him all the time about that. I understand a bit better about the circumstances. I understand that he wants to work and that many people won't take a chance on him with his record being as it is. I try to tread carefully, but apparently I don't do as good as I thought. I certainly don't want him to walk away feeling like a failure.

But it's frustrating too. I probably was given off signals because I am upset that he hasn't followed through on his promise to pay the $40 a week back towards a loan he took out of savings. Or rather a loan that cleaned out our savings. It's very important to me that we have money put up. My credit has taken a hit because our former home is headed for foreclosure. My credit is maxed out. He has poor credit. We both drive older vehicles that could go at any minute.

We decided for him to take the loan so he could get a Harley. It would be his daily driver so he could save gas. It was super cheap and even though it needed a bit of work, we would still come out better for it because it was worth more than what we paid. Initially, we thought to sell his truck, but we've had no takers. And so he came up with the plan to pay the money back at $40 a week. I was willing to trust him (for the first time in a LONG while) to follow through on this which was HUGE for me.

But he hasn't because he has no impulse control. He eats out when he should eating at the house. He's addicted to energy drinks (at $2 a pop) and when I say addicted, I mean he buy two to three a day. He supposedly makes $200 a week and I don't know where it goes. Even with a $35/week energy drink habit, he should have more money. The only thing he is responsible for is his cell phone bill ($100/month) and gas. I just don't understand how someone can squander so much money. I don't know how to get through to him. I guess the only thing to do is just to ask, "What can I do to help you follow through on your promise?" I understand things happen, but the mismanagement of money is pretty consistent. I work full-time plus take in consulting jobs and work two Saturdays a month at my mom's shop. The inequality can be very troubling sometimes. Jon, as a fellow ADDer, how do I talk to him about all of this?