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Couples With One ADHD Partner

The Blame Game

I have heard it said that ADHDers learn to blame as a coping or defense mechanism. This is a huge problem in our marriage and very tiring and frustrating for me.  I feel like I always have to be ready to defend myself because when ever anything happens my husband’s number one, first priority is to place blame…and the blame NEVER falls on him. Sometimes he has to do some very impressive mental and verbal gymnastics, but in the end his finger always points to me.  I have developed a saying, “If I am there, I am to blame. If I am not there, I am to blame because I was not there to stop it from happening.” If my husband cannot blame me for something then the next in line are the kids. This has effected them negatively, as you can imagine.  How have the rest of your handled this problem?


Oh yes and yes!

My husband, according to him, has never started an argument in his life.  He has only been “Backed into a corner” so of course it is not his fault for lashing out.

Well, he has this habit of starting arguments when we talk about anything of any importance to our family.  So I decided there was something I needed to bring up and I decided I was not going to be reactive as I usually am and see if it was really me starting the ‘argument’.  Sure enough I saw a pattern I have seen before that is the process by which he ensures an argument plays out.  I am sure he is not doing it on purpose per se but he is absolutely doing it. 

First, stonewalls by being silent, then tries to change the subject, then irritated to have been redirected back to the subject, then feels bad about it and still does not add to the conversation, then makes an insincere apology expecting the conversation to end, when I try to move the conversation to solutions he says “I don’t want to argue”, if I say we aren’t he insists we are (by labeling it an an aguement he has “won” the day because now he is the innocent who is being put upon) then he goes into self loathing, then gets himself anxious, then lashes out.  Perfect recipe for an argument. 

And spaghetti excuses - If I ask why something wasn’t done he just starts throwing out excuses until one sticks.  It is all a tactic utilized to get the other person to shut up.  If at the very first excuse I say “You’re probably right” and leave it at that he actually follows me and comes at me with more excuses and more and more, even when I don’t say anything back.

Yeah, for sure been there… still there!  I have been working on tactics of my own in which I do not engage to begin with in any sort of debate or argument.  Which works fine for my daughter, because I can tell he what to do.  But more problematic with my husband because one is supposed to be able to work things out with your spouse.  But he won’t engage in problem solving at all.  So I have to implement all solutions, then I am a nag and a bully if he doesn’t want to do what I suggested.

It is an untenable situation.  But I think at this point I’ll take nag just so I don’t have to argue!

Posted by YellaRyan on May 15, 2013 at 10:42pm


There is some very good advice on this in Melissa’s book - ADHD effect on Marriage. It is one of the identified patterns in these relationships for sure.

Catching ourselves when do it; setting up verbal cues and also having learning conversations to discuss difficult subjects, all of this is helpful. Both of you need to be on board though. If your husband is not on board with interventions, may be you can walk away by saying to yourself that you don’t want to be part of this game and ask your hubby to speak to you when he is ready to use appropriate tools. Deep breathing also helps to move your focus to your internal self. I found all this helpful. Good luck.

Posted by Ms.Wonderful on May 15, 2013 at 10:43pm

You may think it is just excuses. In the case of ADHD, what may seem incredible may be true. How do you decide what is an excuse and what is a real reason for somone’s behavior?

Posted by najn on May 21, 2013 at 6:08pm

Passive aggressive men—look it up.

Posted by gifted and deficit on May 22, 2013 at 6:07pm

Don’t leave him, he’s had a hard childhood—Love him.

Posted by gifted and deficit on May 22, 2013 at 6:08pm

I just think this is a man thing…I seem to only attract men who never claim resposnsibility for their actions. He hasn’t ADHD…

Posted by Earthma on May 22, 2013 at 7:59pm

Blame is NOT owned by AD/HD sufferers. Look around and listen if you do not believe me. Blame is the first thing that humans do when they encounter a problem where the solution is not obvious.

Blame is the root of scapegoating. The scapegoat takes away the sins of the world. The scapegoat is innocent.

Blame is part of magical thinking. It is our fall-back as a species. Look at the finger pointing in the media.

Couples need to make agreements about how to resolve conflict without blame but the ADHDer does not have practice doing that. Problem-solve not blame is the key change needed.

Posted by Tool Guy on May 27, 2013 at 7:46pm

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