For those who are experiencing this type of relationship, I hear you. My husband was diagnosed with ADHD last year. There is a dramatic difference between an Adderall day and a non-Adderall day, but even with the meds, he can be very confrontational, loud, and sometimes downright mean when he feels that he is being treated unfairly. The thing is, I never know when he is going to feel that he’s being treated unfairly. Even the most innocent comment will make him irrationally angry/frustrated/sad. It really is like walking on eggshells. And if I tell him that, then he becomes even more irrational – I “don’t let him express his feelings”. Often, those expressions of feelings are direct attacks on me.
Most of the time, we manage the storms like reasonable adults. But I find the daily exercise of navigating these mercurial moods emotionally exhausting. I have been treated for PTSD for a non-related issue, but I feel like I’m developing/have developed some PTSD responses related to the communication in my marriage. We’ve been to counseling, but it seems like more often than not, the focus gets turned on me (and dealing with my childhood abuse issues) rather than working with my husband and his admitted sense of low self-worth. I feel like I am the one that has to carry the emotional load for this relationship and, as noted before, it’s exhausting.
Divorce? I’d rather not. I’d rather have a less stressful relationship with my husband. When he isn’t self-doubting or beating himself up (through outbursts at me), he is my best friend – we have fun and laugh and know each other so very well. We have been married for 20 years and I want to be with him to the end. But how does one keep centered in a maelstrom? I struggle. I have to watch Every.Stinky.Word.and.Gesture, lest I say or do something that he will feel badly about. Not even kidding. I can say something as innocent as, “Oh, I need to remember to change the laundry out when we get home”. And he will read that as, “you didn’t take care of the laundry and now I have to fix it” and it will send him spiraling into a ball of self-loathing because he didn’t take care of the laundry – which I never asked him to do, because I was doing it. But if I stay silent, then something’s obviously wrong. If I don’t talk about deep things, then we aren’t “communicating”. But if I talk about “deep things” then it’s too much for him and he gets upset. It’s like Russian roulette some days.
I just wish there was a magic something out there to help our loved ones with ADHD to not feel this way so we could communicate like people without ADHD.