Constantly Angry at My ADHD Spouse

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 Orlov is a marriage consultant, specializing in helping ADHD-affected couples rebalance their relationships. She is a cum laude graduate of Harvard College and the author of the award-winning books: The ADHD Effect on Marriage and The Couple's Guide to Thriving with ADHD. She blogs for adhdmarriage.com and Psychology Today and has been interviewed by The New York Times, CNN, Today, US News and World Report, and CBS, among many others.

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