My spouse is oppositional and I'm tir... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

CHADD's Adult ADHD Support

12,018 members3,187 posts

My spouse is oppositional and I'm tired of it :(

iWife profile image

Hi there. I'm the "neurotypical" spouse of someone with ADHD and I'm struggling. The past couple of weeks I've been VERY aware of how dysfunctional our "verbal meetings" (because I can't call them "conversations") really are. Normally [with other people in my life] when a topic comes up, I'm able to share my opinion or perspective which is sometimes unique from others in the conversation. This seems to happen effortlessly and can be enjoyable and stimulating. However, this is far from the case with my spouse. If a topic comes up and I express an opinion that's even remotely different from his (doesn't matter how insignificant), there's going to be an argument. Even though I'm not even sure he's emotionally upset about our differing view points BUT his body language, tone of voice, and words exude anger. So, now I'm mostly venting on here because I'm feeling so exhausted from these encounters. Ironically, he labels me an "interrupter" any time I attempt to participate in a "conversation." Ugh, it's never worth my time anyway and I often feel like I've gotta get away from him because my body responds like it's under attack (I've never felt threatened by my husband, I know I'm safe) but he's so intense! On top of that, we've FINALLY got a ADHD coach we've been meeting with but I'm having trouble sharing things like what I've just shared on here because it feels like I'd be shaming my husband. I need support! Am I making sense? Can you relate at all? Do you have any advice for discussing tough issues with your joint-therapist? Thanks for reading.

15 Replies

Hello. You need to share this with the therapist and your partner. My ex said the same about me. I was entirely unaware that I was exibiting these signals. My psych NP suggested Lamotragine for this. I never started it, but I do try to be more aware of my nonverbal cues. You could always email your therapist if it's too difficult to bring up in person.

Good luck and thank you for trying!

iWife profile image
iWife in reply to F_RN_Dx_at_39

Thanks for the validation and support!

Hey, iWife~

I agree that you do need to share this with both partner and therapist...otherwise how can they know how you feel? This is the best way to fix things... And do remember to tell both that this reaction scares you on a viseral level so that they know and can help.

I have defiance/anger issues. alas from watching my father and learning these BAD habits of disagreeing just to disagree.. must always be right.. Working on this attitude. . along with my ADHD... just picked up a good book on this topic... called Taking charge of anger by w.robert nay, phd Talks about practical solutions and how to have a better "face of anger" when it is productive and helps everyone stay calm..

Perhaps this is one of your husbands "triggers", when you are conversing / verbal meetings of a differing opinion. Does he have to always be "right" and have the right answers? Try identifying it, and just ask your husband flat out- "Are you angry?" He should be able to say yes or no. In any relationship, I am learning honesty in feelings is vital. Remember to stay calm yourself, deep breaths and relax.. Easy to say, hard to do in this type of discussion.

Part of being a woman, is our power of touch. Hold your husbands hand for a moment, and look at him while you are talking. Sounds like he could also use some meditation. Do it together- YouTube - The Mindful Movement

Has your therapist recommended journaling yet for your husband/yourself? It is a useful tool as well...

Just some ideas... Hope these help..

Best Regards~


iWife profile image
iWife in reply to GatsbyCat

Thank you! In particular your mentioned how it effects me on a "visceral" level really helped me articulate what I'm dealing with when I finally told my therapist. Also, you're mentioning of "triggers" brings another factor for me to consider as the role I play can help or hurt things too! I will try to observe closely any note any patterns or predictable reactions.

I've heard about the touch thing before and I've used it when I need to engage full attention, but I haven't tried it during these arguments (it's the last thing I want to do, but I think you're definitely on to something)!

Thank you!!!!

I am the neurotypical spouse as well. You are not crazy. I'm in the same position. I joined a non-ADHD spouse support group and it has changed my life. That and seeking counseling on my own. I feel less crazy since doing so. Here's the link

This group is so validating. Hugs to you. I know how you feel. 💛

iWife profile image
iWife in reply to Eulalia262

Hey, thank you for taking a few mintues to offer your support and validation!! I actually attended that support group too!! I've been absent the past few weeks, but plan to get back on again soon. I agree it's helpful and a unique saving grace!! :) Hugs!

Hi iWife, you sound a lot like MY wife, bless her heart. I'M the ADHD spouse who has trouble with "conversations" that, to her, always seem like arguements. I don't want them to be arguements, I really don't, but if I try to correct some item in discussion, then I'm arguing. I didn't "think" I was arguing, but that's how it comes across to her. I'm slow to respond, have trouble holding my (?) ground, and get frustrated. It's come to a head recently, and things must (will) change. She views it as me being in control by not being agreeable, not working together. I ramble on just to let you know that your circumstance is not unusual, I don't think. I'm trying to get help with a counselor, sounds like you two are also. I wish you good results and better "conversations" in the future! May this forum provide the help you need!

iWife profile image
iWife in reply to DustysDad

Thanks for sharing this and being honest. It's encouraging to know that you are able to acknowledge/see your role in the situations (hopefully my husband will one day too). That's a huge step in the right direction! I'm going to keep trying! It's definitely a team effort.

So, this is the tricky part of some people with ADHD, myself included. I have found that my communication style often leaves both me and my listener frustrated. I'm frustrated because my brain is very busy, I have a lot to say, and sometimes I skip a step or two to arrive at "D" after "A" and skipping "B & C". I know what I'm saying and I'm very bright but I lose people. Additionally, try the rule of three (3) sentences for both of you. It would be a great little exercise for him as well. I'd recommend a marriage counselor so you can articulate your concerns through a "neutral" third party. I'm guessing that your husband is completely unaware of his aggression and once he is made aware, he may become angry, embarrassed, or worst of all shamed, as you note. The trick is articulating that you love him and always come from a place of love; and then figuring out a signal for both him and you when overload sets in. Also you can ask questions, like am I getting this right?, "You are saying X, is that right?" This aggression (not in the DSM) is often overlooked by personal therapists and coaches because they are most often validating the "good" parts of ADHD and working on tips and tools to help with the diagnosed "bad" parts. Meditation, exercise, and balance helps me maintain my calm and put the brakes on my very fast car of a brain.

iWife profile image
iWife in reply to Shirleytaps

You have a lot of insights on this issue. Thank you for sharing them with me. I like the sound of the 3 sentence method, I'll ask our therapist about leading that because my heads usually spinning by the time my husband finishes "taking his turn." Yes, he's pretty much in denial on this one! I'm studying up on the DSM stuff because we're looking into having him diagnosed soon. Thanks again!!

THANKY YOU CHADD comrades of all walks of life! ;-) I wanted to take a minute to thank you all for your collective support, validation, empathy, and advice. THANK YOU so much. If you've ever benefited from replies in this support group, then you know how grateful I truly am. Being able to check back over the next few days when things were rough and I was feeling BEYOND isolated, helped sustain me in the end!

BTW at the beginning of our therapy session yesterday I had an opportunity to speak up (feeling encouraged by you all) and speak freely about my concerns as my beloved husband was running late, go figure! ;-) It was nice to have the floor! Though we only scratched the surface, it felt good to get the ball rolling. Our therapist validated my concerns and is pulling together bits and pieces of our "sides of the story" and making some recommendations. Heres to surviving another week! All the best!

not to be that guy but..... what the heck is neurotypical? like is that just a way of saying normal? if so, would just saying "my husband who has ADHD" not convey the same statement by implication? Like is this term used a lot? i clearly live under a rock if it is lol XD

iWife profile image
iWife in reply to LifesLesson

I am doing my best when it comes to use of terminology. There are couples where both partners have ADHD (one might post a question here about the other), but that is not the case in my relationship. Thus, I've chosen to describe myself as neurotypical to provide context. Personally, I don't use the word "normal" much to describe anything (and I especially don't like it to use it when referring to people) because there is almost always an exception AND other things that I'm not getting into here... The folks who replied above seemingly weren't confused by the use of the term, so I gather it is still commonly used. If you end up doing research (or have a personal recommendation) on terminology, I'd welcome your sharing it here! Thanks.

I live under a rock too but from what I’ve seen online neurotypical is used often. I actually use it often too! Hahaha. Maybe I’m wrong too 😂But I don’t view it as saying some people are normal. Just that their brain’s function in the typical way others do. I do use it to point out differences because I am different! No sense it comparing myself to the neurotypicals out there because years of that created serious stress and anxiety. I love that I can put people in a category now, otherwise know as taking myself OUT of their category 😁

OMG, I want to hug you and have coffee. You have elegantly described my life, too. The rejection sensitivity dysphoria is so exhausting. I find myself wondering if I will have a real partner that wants to know how "I" am. I feel lost..He won't take meds, we can't even use the word "ADHD" and over the past 30 years he has used cannabis to escape (or as he says, relieve his angst-but comes with its own sidekick issues). I don't want to be without him and love so much about his 'special' brain, but just don't know where to turn anymore.

I write this to simply say "Thank You" for letting me know I am not alone, and to extend a hug your way because I can empathize so deeply for you.

You may also like...