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Couples With One ADHD Partner

my non add spouse is angry and beginning to lose it


I love my husband and I have ADD. After 10 years finally found out about genetic mutation - body cant make neurotransmitter more than a trickle. I got very stupid. however, in the last year, was prescribed supplements and finally I am back.

So Im looking at ten years of wreckage in our relationship in which my husband has had to take things over. I have started to do a few: back taxes, remodel project, clean out mess of disprganization.

Hes burned out, says he loves me, hes so tired from overworking and now he explodes over small things.
Tells me I dont care or Im not listening; makes remarks like ‘that wont work’,

A confusing train of remarks—> he got furious that I write in books, called me selfish, told me I was throwing things after I dropped a spoon on the floor, told me that I hit him on the knee when he was sitting next to me-I was getting up &pushed; down on couch maybe that’s it, then said he was afraid to be in the house with me (like he cant hold both my wrists in one hand, now hes not talking to me.

He really is overloaded since I couldnt work.

I emailed him my side of what happened and why it bothered me so much - he says Im raving but he understood I was really mad, and why am I like this.
Then begs me to consider that I am doing things to upset him ( as usual, wrong again)

says he wants to work it out- but seems to me that in his heart he 1) doesnt think add is real, b) thinks I can control it by doing something (on max meds now, have 2 docs) and c) admits he gets mad too fast d) Is always saying I dont want to fight with you when I disagree with him. He has never been able to imagine himself as another person, so understanding is nil

any advice about helping him realize that a lifetime of being terrorized and feeling like a fake while working ten times harder than coworkers, dreading anger (emotional abuse by parents), and slowly figuring things out has led to to hell where I am again being emotionally aboused.


As the nonADHD spouse, I can understand the burned-out part and the angry part.  I’m not sure what you mean by “I’m back”, but it sounds like you are taking some of the load. Taking some of the load off of him in the every day, day to day stuff is a big deal and a good thing.

When someone is burned-out, they need a break.  A quiet vacation somewhere, just the two of you, may help.  Is your hubby willing to read about ADHD? There are a lot of great books on ADHD.  When a stranger describes your life in a book,  it is an eerie feeling and hard to ignore.

There is always counseling with a counselor that is very knowledgeable in ADHD. This may help you two communicate again.

Posted by Abner on Jan 29, 2013 at 5:37pm

I’m the nonADHD spouse too, of 34 years. I totally understand where your husband is. Maybe you need to ask him if HE sees your progress as much as you do. I know that my husband thinks he is doing so much more than he actually is. I’m not trying to be cruel to you, and you may actually be doing all that you think you are, but you might ask him in a very calm tender moment. Also, for his sake, get him a copy of Is it You, Me, or Adult ADD?, by Gina Pera. It is the ONLY book that I’ve read that actually is written for the non-ADHD spouse, that actually does care   about and understand what we go through as the non-ADHDer. It may just help him to understand that HE is not crazy. It validated me and helped me to hold on to my head in the midst of the nightmare. Good luck, I hope things work out for you both.

Posted by sparklefarkle on Jan 29, 2013 at 7:14pm

I am the female with the ADD in the relationship and can totally understand where you are coming from. I’ve lived it. My non ADD boyfriend of 4 years has slowly became more understanding but it’s very easy for him to be quick to use the ADD as a crutch to point faults in certain situations when really it was not necessarily me or the ADD but very clearly him or his OCD. This is a tough one because of the roller coaster of emotions involved. We had to get couples counseling and I began to see psychologist and psychiatrist which helped me strengthen my back bone. I say that because I think living with actions of ADD molds us into thinking everything’s always our fault and we can’t do anything right because of all the failures we have faced in life especially if not belng diagnosed for so many years so as with everything else it’s easy to take blame and then feel guilt that may not be necessary. And as the non ADD spouse has lived with the actions and results of ADD behaviors for so many years he has probably become more sensitive to them and may tend to exaggerate and pick an action he knows will easily make you feel bad and at fault for everything that’s really going on at that time in your relationship. When you have ADD as a female speaking anyway, the self esteem issues are a problem so it’s easy to fall into the pattern of everything always being your fault and the non ADD spouse is always right. And I’m not saying its not sometimes an ADD issue at hand causing the problem. But there are 2 people in a relationship and o one is perfect 100% of the time so I think each disagreement or conflict that arises should be analyzed for what the problem really is and get to the root of it then address the issues that are needing to be resolved. My boyfriend and I had to and still have to do the imago communication exercises.( MisCommunication plays a big part in having disagreements in an ADD and non ADD realationship. So the imago exercise really helps .When there is conflict each person has a set amount of time to say how they feel about the issue(s) at hand, we do a min but some do 5min, and for that designated time one person has the floor and the other has to listen quietly then when time is up it switches to the other person having their turn but before they start their time they must repeat what the other person has said and it must be agreed upon that the person repeating gets it correctly said. Then the same thing with the other person occurs. This can go back and forth until you feel you are resolving the issues. It works very well but both of you must be willing to do it. I know living with someone with ADD is not easy so it’s important for the other person to become educated about ADD and the traits and behaviors that are resulting from the brains malfunction and from things that may be causing issues and conflict. This will help them better identify if it’s you or the ADD that caused a problem. You should as well educate yourself as much as you can on ADD. I read for 3 weeks solid everyday for numerous hours online learning about my ADD And I continue to stay involved in learning more about it. I am very proactive about it. This forum is great because just when you think your alone there seems to be someone out there who can totally relate to your situation because they themselves have lived it. It is important to own your ADD and you should take responsibility for yourself and behaviors and identify what’s your ADD and what is you then you can try different when things just aren’t working. Getting treatment and counseling will help as well if you can find a good counselor/psychologist who specializes in ADD which is not easy to do sometimes. And doing what you did by posting on here is a good way to find support as well. I hope everything gets better for you and your husband. If you know you are really doing your best and trying so hard to save the relationship then that’s the best you can do. He is 50% of the relationship so he has to do his part and address any of his own imperfections as well. I highly doubt this is 100% your “fault”, I think there are 2 people here each with their own issues just as any normal couple will have so each one of you needs to step outside of themselves to take a look at how their actions are effecting the relationship instead of playing the blame game. This was difficult for my boyfriend to do but he eventually got better at it, still not quite there all the way but better. Well, hang in there and remember that you are a good ,special person and you deserve the same. Keep reaching out for support and feel free to message me or anyone on here I’m sure would love to be there to listen and provide encouragement when you need it.

Posted by Awink32276 on Jan 29, 2013 at 7:38pm

It is so hard, on both sides.  I know my ADD husband struggles mightily.

But I can tell you what has worked to improve things for us.  First, the defensiveness.  I don’t know if you have this particular ADD symptom but it is common.  My daughter also has this.  It is automatic if left unchecked.  And what is bothersome to the non-ADD person in the relationship is that defensiveness by its definition is a call to violence - I don’t mean this dramatically as in actually physical, but a call to conflict, to fight.  What defensiveness says to the non-ADD person is essentially “You have no right to feel what you feel” and I’m ready and willing to make a stink about it.  And that stance, no matter the cause, in any relationship is always harmful.  Once my husband got some meditation and slowing down skills and could calm himself long enough to nip the defensive impulse before it got out, low and behold I felt heard!  That is the great thing about being able to stop the defensive response is that without doing any other thing you have suddenly made your partner feel way more heard.

Second thing that helped is he started putting as much time and effort into understanding and studying what made me tick as HE expected ME to put into understanding ADD.  This was huge. When he realized that the relationship had become one-sided, that it had become all about ME understanding, about ME making concessions for his symptoms, about ME picking up the slack, he realized how unfair it was and how exhausting it was for me!  ADD people can get terribly self involved particularly adults who have recently been diagnosed.  It is a great Aha moment for them, it answers lots of questions, finally they have something to point to!  But, as with all things, too much focus on the ADD can look to the non-ADD partner like indulgence at best and at worst narcissism.  And who wants to be in a relationship where your partner is always pulling focus!

And thirdly the relationship can become a system with two sets of rules: for the ADD person if they leave a project undone it is a symptom and addressing it can be painful and stressful, anxiety inducing so they might not want to, and the non-ADD partner is cruel and heartless if they don’t understand this.  If the non-ADD person were to leave a project undone it is just a character flaw.  No attention paid to why, or if there was some stress in the project or whatever, just why didn’t it get done as it should.

The ADD spouse is allowed to feel righteous, as if the non-ADD spouse should not feel upset about things they have left undone, for instance, because it is part of their ADD.  If the non-ADD spouse is angry it is unfair.  If the ADD spouse is angry, which can happen often, or reactive or defensive, they have every right to be!  And the non-ADD spouse must let them! etc etc… if you are in a situation where you feel or your spouse feels that there are two sets of rules then you will always have conflict.  Everyone needs to be allowed to have their feelings.  However everyone has to abide by the rule of no lashing out and not holding grudges and/or using anger as a weapon.  Once you are in the habit of using your feelings as a weapon to manipulate - a habit my husband and I have both fallen into at times - there is no way out of conflict.

You have to lay down ground rules.  And you have to control your symptoms, not expect to be excused when you don’t or can’t.  If you don’t abide by this it is a separate rule for you that doesn’t apply to a non-ADD spouse who is ALWAYS expected to control their behavior, that is recipe for conflict.

It is not insurmountable but you have to commit to being totally honest and your spouse does too.

Good luck.

Posted by YellaRyan on Jan 30, 2013 at 12:41am

Hi this is my very first post.on this site.. I’ve been married for 29 years. I don’t know if we’ll make it to 30. I have the ADHD. I have bee on low doses and high doses and tried a multitude of prescriptions. I am fifty three. He is 55, We constantly argue. I love this phrase. The best thing about arguing with a adhd is they forgive easily because they forget what they are arguing about! My husband boss are both perfectionist and though I try to adhere to a list I find it difficult to remember what I was told.My NP who prescribes recommended being evaluate for cognitive Disorder separate from ADHD. I don’t know if they take insurance but can’t pay if they don’t. Is it effective?  I need to act quickly, Our marriage is on the brink of divorce.

Posted by Maryquitecontrary on Feb 03, 2013 at 5:47am

My partner and I have had a lot of problems over the 9 years we have been together, this sounds really familiar to me as the one with ADD. There has been a pattern of progress and setbacks for me and my symptoms, and just when I feel I am getting on top of things my wife will come down on me for not doing the housework or something. When someone is in the habit of seeing only your flaws it can get very stressful and demoralizing. In the last couple of years my wife has been reading about ADD and become so much more sympathetic, it really helped us that she could read other people’s stories and confirm the strange reality of ADD life, encourage him to read about it and don’t give up hope just yet! Hmm, you say he has never been able to get into another person’s head, this lack of Theory of Mind is a major symptom of Asperger’s syndrome, for some reason Aspie’s and ADD’s often end up together, I don’t know why…does he also have obsessive qualities, an apparent lack of social skills, did he have trouble speaking as child? Maybe he should read up on Asperger’s…it sounds like you are in a rough spot, I hope you can work it out.

Posted by Dally Llamma on Feb 05, 2013 at 1:42am

I feel like since I got diagnosed a year ago it was denial, then a relief , then angry,and now just makes me sad.. A relief to know that I’m not crazy and that everything makes sense why I got bad grads and couldn’t make friends even developed a social phobia.So many lost opportunities and fun things I turned down. My asthma became life threatening at times when I couldn’t breathe from full blown panic attacks. I was ok at work but when I got into a social situation or the unknown, I was frozen that I would act inappropriately or say something wrong. I never did but I would have rather walked on hot coals than gone to a party..I did have sexual abuse from my Father as a child and it mostly remained unresolved but I became fearful of men and couldn’t get along with authority figures. Most of the bosses I’ve had have been male and I always butt heads with them. That’s why I am amazed that I got married. Divorce is common on my side of the family. I think we are at an impasse cause he doesn’t want to go back to marriage counselling, and I am seeing a counselor and a NP for meds. Tomorrow I am going to a support group. My husband is coming. That hardest thing for me….is my husband is has a PHD and his patients are children and families that have Autism, ADD/ADHD/Aspergers. I am tired of being labelled and diagnosed as a patient from hell because nothing has helped and I’m not trying, and I’m very defensive cause everything I do makes him upset. He has started drinking to cope with me and self medicates too. Says he would rather be at work than home with me. I’m really doubting our marriage cause he never forgets any thing I have done to piss him off which is not premeditated on my part. That’s giving me too much credit. He says I don’t listen to him. You try sitting night after night listening to how much he loves his patients but if I over cook his dinner or ask him to help me, he goes from 1-10 in five min. Shouting and saying I’m not caring about our marriage. I am at a loss what to do if he won’t take anger management and stop bullying me. My counselor says it’s verbal abuse and I should remain calm and disengage from him. It’s hard because he is so well educated and articulate and being a professional in this field you’d think he show me some compassion but he says that his 5 year old patients respond better than I do with just simple tasks. I read all the books and even sent one to my Mom and she said we are “textbook” ADHD.It runs in my family. My son has it. My sister my mother and so on. I know I’m rambling but these last few threads I’ve read just makes me cry. Maybe it’s Menopause but I am over sensitive to everything these days. I feel my life is just slipping away. I hate being the victim.

Posted by Maryquitecontrary on Feb 05, 2013 at 1:17pm

All of you folks with mixed partners of ADD and non ADD seem so frustrated for a long time. It all began at some point. I have just asked my ADD adult daughter to write down what she thinks she is doing for her part of effort. I know she gets caught up in her head of what she thinks. Yes defensive. Now I write down as her mother what I feel I am doing as for my part of the family support.

I need it written in black and white. I hope it helps with avoiding some of the articulation road blocks.

ADD is frustrating and it has its qualities. I tell her I hate her UNtreated ADD and love her.

Posted by Jerri on Feb 06, 2013 at 9:18am

I’ve been married for 27 years to a man with ADD however we didn’t know what it was until about 4 years ago so much has transpired that I don’t know if we will every have the relationship that either one of us had hoped for. We both love each other but it is so trying and a continual frustration for both.
I also have an estranged relationship from our daughter, and I had been struggling with this for several years trying to figure out why.
Yellaryan a few posts up has summarized it for my daughter the defensiveness makes so much sense to me. I will try to relay this to her we will see what happens. Thanks

Posted by KERB on Feb 13, 2013 at 12:17pm

My situation is nothing like yours. Neither I or my husband have ADHD or ADD but our son has ADHD and Asperger Syndrome, and we face issues on a daily basis with him that we would never get through if it weren’t for the help of our loving Father.
God can help with any difficulty you find yourselves in. Ask Him for help and He will help you.

Just a thought.

Posted by Blessed not lucky on Feb 19, 2013 at 10:02am

Hello all
Thank you for the helpful posts. I read them - trying to figure positive things to do.

My spouse is so stressed and its exacerbating a medical issue for him - he has huge stress at work, repairs to house , responsibility for getting his mom into and well cared for in a nursing home and me .

I was building a woodcart for my woodworking lumber and had all the pieces around me when he came up.
Right away he asked me where I would put a cabinet , what I planned for dinner and I was confused; I asked him to sit down ( to buy time so I could recover my composure) but he didn’t want to. I got overloaded and my brain went numb so I couldn’t say anything.
I was hurt he didn’t ask what I was doing or why.
Finally I was able to think and get him the tools to make a repair. I did say he wasn’t polite and there was 10 min when he kept asking me for stuff but it was spread out everywhere and it was hard to find. He got very upset
And stressed & couldn’t make a tool work,and it caused him pain. I wish I knew the right thing to say when I’m interrupted to get te to transition.
Any advice?

Posted by wrongagain on Mar 04, 2013 at 10:04am

While I understand how a non-ADHD spouse could be frustrated and tired of dealing with the problems associated with an ADHD spouse, Thai is NO excuse for them ever to be abusive, which sounds exactly like what your husband is doing. Sounds to me as though as soon as you learned of your diagnosis he’s found the perfect vehicle to use to abuse you. Unfortunately, you’re only to willing to accept 100% of the blame out of guilt for all the “misery” you’ve supposedly caused him all these years. My friend, it’s not easy to live with someone with ADHD, but as another poster said, there are 2 in every relationship. The past ts OVER. Nothing you can do will change it, and you are NOT obligated in any way to “make up” for anything. You go forward from here, and so does he. He has no right to make you “pay” for any of the “wreckage” of the past, because its long since over unless you have damaged him irreparably in sme way. Since you haven’t mentioned anything that heinous, it sounds like he’s being a petulant child, not a man committed to a mutually supportive, loving relationship where both partners work together toward a common goal. You need to stop feeling guilty, as well. A lot of people with ADHD (or any other mental condition) do use it as an excuse for bad behavior and expect their spouse - indeed, the whole world - to let them get away with murder because they “can’t help it,” but he other side of that coin is the spouses who use your affliction as open season to blame you for all their problems, casting themselves as long-suffering martyrs. Neither scenario is true, and neither one is fair to the other. People like that have no business in a relationship until they can accept responsibility for their OWN feelings and actions. Otherwise they’re demonstrating extreme immaturity and selfishness. It goes both ways. Marriage is a commitment, made: by both parties to do their best to work together on common problems. Your illness is a fact, something to be worked with and around. You have to deal with it yourself yes, but so does he, and not with blame placing, guilt, or “payback” for past wrongs, real or imagined. If he can’t do that, you don’t need him. It’s hard enough to live with any illness without someone else making it worse. I know I’m rambling now, but I’m hoping I got the point across. It’s about MUTUAL respect.

Posted by sruasonid on Mar 06, 2013 at 10:27am

I have simply found to pick and choose my battles. Not everything is a problem. The ADD individual is not the only source of problems. We are all unperfect people. Motivation is my battle with my daughter that I need to be very careful about.
I find a lot of great qualities in ADD folks. Look for that.

Posted by Jerri on Mar 11, 2013 at 1:59am

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