Constantly Angry at My ADHD Spouse

Filed Under: ADHD and Marriage

Q:

I always expected my marriage to be happy. Yet, these days, I feel anger at my ADD spouse most of the time. How do I get control of my emotions and my relationship?

Melissa Orlov, a frequent ADDitude contributor with Dr. Ned Hallowell, writes about ADHD and marriage and offers relationship advice to adults with ADD.
A:

Your anger is a clear sign that something is awry in your ADHD marriage.

The best way to deal with this powerful emotion is to determine its cause. For instance, you may think you’re upset with your husband for spending so much time on the computer, but the real source of anger may be feelings of loneliness and the fear that you’re unloved.

Talk with him about your feelings in a calm and caring way. Once you find the reasons for your anger, you can take control of your relationship.

Taking control means understanding that you — and only you — are responsible for your life (stop blaming your spouse); communicating thoughtfully, not lashing out (a mild-mannered approach will get your spouse to cooperate and, possibly, to change); and engaging in activities that reduce your anger and make you happier. This isn’t easy, so get help.

I would start by reading a good book on the subject, such as The Dance of Anger, by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. She writes extensively about relationships like yours, and offers specific solutions. The book also teaches you how to avoid getting angry about things you don’t have control over.


Do you have a question for Melissa Orlov? Post it to our expert forums. She’ll try to answer one question a week, so check back often to read her answers and to see what other ADDitude readers are asking.

Melissa is co-author of a blog on ADHD and marriage at adhdmarriage.com, and coauthored Married to Distraction with Dr. Ned Hallowell and his wife, Sue. She is also the author of The ADHD Effect on Marriage.

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