Dear Rebbetzin Weinberg,
I have been married 15 years, and it hasn’t been easy. My husband is a hard worker and a good provider. He is well-meaning, too, but he doesn’t communicate well, and has a tendency to blurt things out without thinking. He has really hurt me and the children many times. He doesn’t seem to be able to control himself or understand the ramifications of his speech.
By doing a lot of reading, I realize that my husband has adult ADHD. I know he won’t go to counseling. I don’t even think there is a therapy that could fix him. I have come to terms with the fact that my husband has this condition; this is who he is. I would just like advice on how to live with it. How can we keep from being hurt by his outbursts? How can I make a home without constant fighting? How do I make my life and the life of our children a happy one?
I really respect your desire and determination to make a happy home. Of course you realize that there is so much more involved here than “fixing” your husband; this is truly a family issue, and you can take the lead in setting the tone for peace and calm in the household.
While you seem sure that your husband has ADHD, right now we don’t really know what causes his hurtful behavior; that would require a diagnosis based on the assessment of your husband by a qualified professional.
You say you know he won’t go for help. In that case, you can go by yourself and get some guidelines for how to deal with his outbursts. As he sees your responses change, your husband may become more amenable to seeking help, or you might become stronger within yourself and be able to tell him constructively how his behavior affects you and the children.
I believe you can be honest with your children and let them know that, as you said, your husband has many wonderful qualities that you respect and appreciate and, yes, there is a problem, too. Children are smart as well as understanding, and they will probably feel relieved to learn that you are working to improve the situation. Attending AlAnon meetings will teach you a lot about living with a difficult person.
It seems to me it’s time, after 15 years, to stop waiting for your husband to change – you can’t control his behavior, and he may ch oose to remain the same until 120! – and time to start learning new ways to deal with his difficult behavior. You will grow through this process, and with Hashem’s help, you will help your entire family.