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Couples With One ADHD Partner

Should I Give in to Him When He Breaks His Word?

My hubby has ADHD, which means that his word is only good while it is convenient, but as soon as it becomes inconvenient he will break his promise. I usually give into him but recentlyI stuck to my guns and told him that while he is free to do what he wants I will not cosign his decision to break his promise. Well, lets just say he had a breakdown where he broke into pieces his only cell phone that cannot be replaced for a couple of months due to lack of finances, he threw a hunting knife at a window and broke it, and he ended up on the bathroom floor crying. He then left the house for about an hour ago and I had no clue where he went. Please note that he usually gets angry at small things to the point of using profanity and going for a drive, but this is the second time he had a full meltdown.

Was I right in not cosigning him breaking his promise or do ADHD adults need to be coddled? If he was a child it would be a no-brainer, but do ADHD adults need to be treated differently? He was so sorry when he got back and hated that I witnessed his meltdown.


By the way, he starts treatment in a few days.

Posted by strawberries404 on Aug 08, 2014 at 11:31am

I’m the AD/HD half of the relationship. In no way shape or form put up with this crap. BUT this crap is not necessarily due to AD/HD. There is a far bigger percent of the population with such bad behaviors than the 5% or so of the adult population usually estimated. Alcohol or drug abuse, brain injury, bipolar, hormone imbalances, food or chemical sensitivities. toxicities, deficiencies, and more can cause bad tempers and cognitive issues. But are any of these a good reason to accept being bullied or treated like dirt?

So does he do this sort of tantrum around anyone else? only family who have put up with it for a long time? does he do this on the job or with friends? would he have a tantrum and throw a knife at the window of a cop car in front of a cop? If the answer is no, it seems to me he has a good measure of control but doesn’t need to use it with you as there are no consequences he wants to avoid.
I recently ran into a similar situation with my sweetheart’s 32 year old daughter. She has some degree of brain damage from having a heart condition at birth. Her heart stopped twice for several minutes before she could be revived. Had several surgeries in the first 2 months of life. Her parents were told she’d be unlikely to finish high school. A fairly sweet child from their reports until puberty hit. Then tantrums and soap operas ran rampant. Mom engages in them and tolerates screaming and rude behavior dad did not. She had a major switch in high school, graduated, went on to college and has a good job. Had worked in high end women’s clothing sales during high school and college. A job where social skills with customers is critical. Her job at a law office with a lot of phone and face to face client work also requires NOT being rude or having crying jags in front of clients. She’s never been disciplined at work for mistreating coworkers.
She saves her rudeness for the family members who put up with it. Oh, that’s just *****, she doesn’t mean anything by it, she’ll get over it. After a few years of living with her father, she graduated me without my knowledge or consent to the ‘family’ category and started to include me in her dramatic reports and then to being incredibly rude. And had adolescent tantrums when I told her she was being rude, histrionic and selfish. I didn’t swear, simply stated her behavior was intolerable for the above reasons and I expected that in a few days, she’d try to forget about it and call when she wanted something. Sure enough she did. At which point I told my sweetheart and his ex of the exchange and I was not going to have anything to do with her unless she apologized. She decided she could get what she wanted elsewhere rather than apologize. Fine with both of us. as she generally stopped being rude to her father for a long time. A few months ago, she had stated she wanted to come in and see him, hike together on a satruday. Night before, called, yes, I’m coming in tomorrow! And stood him up. Never called, no text, no email. 2 weeks later wanted to come in again and no mention of the last time. He did let her come in and they had a pleasant time. I refused to be around her. But glad they had time together. Then comes Father’s Day, she said she’d come in to see him then. Never showed, never called. He was hurt deeply by the first one, this one while he expected it, it still hurt. I sent her a text telling her standing him up for the second time in a few months and on Fathers day to boot, made it very clear how little he meant to her. and that it hurt his feelings even if he would never say so. the result was the vilest cursing I’ve ever had directed at me. But she sent him a text   saying happy fathers day and something came up. that was 330 in the afternoon. I have not told him or her mother of this at this point. They still think my coolness to her is due to the prior tantrum. He had surgery recently and I sent a text stating all had gone well. That is only courtesy to my sweetheart for his sake. Her reply was appropriately grateful but I have not forgiven nor forgotten. If she wants to come this way at a time I will be around, I’ll make it clear that she either apologizes to me privately and states she will never do it again or I will be so brutally honest about her character flaws that she will be afraid to be near me. I haven’t stooped to her level of insults but if I do decide she needs a pants down bare butt verbal spanking, she will have welts and bruises on her selfcentered ego that hurt enough to make her understand that pissing me off is hazardous to her ego.
She controlled herself around me for 2 years. She didn’t change until she decided I was pleased enough with being accepted as family by her to put up with her crap.Nope, wasn’t asked about that, didn’t agree and will not accept the crap that falls out of her mouth when she decides she can get away with it.
It doesn’t matter that she may explode due to the brain damage. It doesn’t matter if it is PMS, or simply being spoiled by an indulgent mother who was understandably worried about a special needs child who is now an adult. It doesn’t matter that your guy has ADD. Wouldn’t matter if they had rabies. YOU and I DON’T have to put up with being treated badly. Even those with aspberger’s or tourettes, have to learn to control some social behaviors or not be permitted in some situations. Neither are children who scream, run around or pee on the floor and hit people.
If treatment helps and hopefully will include counseling/coaching as well as meds, an occasional lapse might be tolerable, pain or illness can make anyone of us lose our tempers to some degree, you can choose what you will accept and when not.
If he doesn’t change, do you want to put up with this for the rest of your life? Whatever the reason, such outbursts are self rewarding—adrenaline is fun. And usually get worse if permitted.

Posted by Gadfly on Aug 08, 2014 at 4:46pm

It is common for individuals with ADHD to have trouble handling and expressing anger appropriately. Remorse is a good sign that he’ll do the work to try to improve this.

Here are some strategies to deal with anger in ADHD adults:
This article talks about anger management and how to avoid getting so keyed up: And these offer more tools:,,

Treatment for ADHD, including therapy could help a great deal with this too.

ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Aug 08, 2014 at 4:46pm

Gadfly, I get what you’re saying and I agree that it is true with a lot of people who have outbursts to get their way. However, to answer your question, yes, he does behave this way around others. I’ve been embarrassed a few times in public because the smallest thing does not go his way, but this is the first time that he was destructive (his phone and the window). That was scary for me, although I knew he would not become physical with me. I was really more worried for him. He said he did not want to wake up tomorrow and was worthless. That concerned me because he just got 3 new prescrptions. I was worried that he would do something crazy by taking them all, but it did not come down to that.

Penny, thanks for the references. I am about to read them now.

Posted by strawberries404 on Aug 08, 2014 at 5:06pm

People with ADHD have a problem with impulse control and including and particularly controlling emotional impulses. Yes it is to a certain extent beyond their control but that is the first outburst. Everything after that is willful.

And no you don’t need to coddle adults. Understanding does not mean tolerating bad behavior. You must set boundaries. If you don’t he will continue to stretch them because manipulating is way easier than dealing with uncomfortable and sometimes unresolved feelings and situations. But that is called being an adult. It is not easy because you want to have compassion for him. My husband is the same way and has pushed boundaries beyond the pale. But I am working on setting healthy boundaries and temper tantrums are not in that scheme. My husband had to leave the house if he can’t maintain. Not a picnic for sure but better than being manipulated.

Posted by YellaRyan on Aug 10, 2014 at 1:23am

Wow i have been dealing with the same thi g for 4 years with my boyfriend! I finally came across an article on adhd. And it described him perfectly! We r both happy now we know what the problem was. Even he wanted to understand why he could not control his anger! I would feel sorry for him and hate him at the same time for making me feel like crap. He curses a lot too. He is trying to work on his anger issues now that he knows where it comes from. Having a diagnosis even though not professional has been a great help! He still has his days but he is a little better at dealing with his anger. I use to coddle him but not anymore and that helps too.

Posted by Lesha on Aug 11, 2014 at 9:21pm

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