How do I help controlling boyfriend?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: My husband has ADHD and has been very controlling since we been married in Nov 07 and I just left a month ago to another state leaving him behind for a short time (that is what he thinks) I moved to be able to break free from him without getting hurt. He says he is fine if I divorce him but insists that he waits forever for me. I had just mailed out the divorce paperwork yesterday and today he says just do what you need to do for yourself but wait before you decide on the divorce filing. How can I break it to him gently that it is for the best on both parties, he is 25 yrs old and I am 31. We have only known each other for 1 yr and moved into everything based off of lust instead of waiting. He constantly tells me how he wants to die, so alone, depressed, I am the only one in his life and ever will, and no one will want to be with him due to his disability. How do I get through this and what can I say to him that my heart is only with him as a friend and even though I did love him more than that, I don’t now but as a friend kind of love. Please help!!

A: ADHD can be very challenging, it’s true. But, with medication and some talk therapy, his is a very manageable “disability.” The way your husband is behaving is disrespectful to others with ADHD who have taken charge of their issue and are not using it as an excuse for dependent and dysfunctional behavior. If he wants to be loved, he needs to stop using emotional blackmail to manipulate other people and start being more generous and loving.

As much as you want to be helpful, you probably can’t be. Your husband isn’t asking for help. He is asking for someone else to take care of problems that he alone can solve. All you can do is tell him clearly what you’ve told me. When he says he will wait for you forever, you can say that he is free to do that if he wants but that you are moving on. He may give it up or he may up the ante in the hopes of guilting you back. Sadly, if it worked, you wouldn’t be there out of love but out of fear. That is a poor substitute indeed for love and commitment.

I hope you have some good friends to talk to who can help you keep things in perspective. If not, please get yourself a therapist to help keep you grounded while you go through what may be a difficult divorce. You may need a solid ally to help you manage your husband’s threats.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Sep 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). How do I help controlling boyfriend?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/09/13/how-do-i-help-controlling-boyfriend-2/