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Husband Refuses to Seek Asperger's Diagnosis

"My husband has many, if not most, of the traits of Asperger’s Syndrome. But he refuses to talk about it or go for a diagnosis. Instead, he says I’m just blaming him for our marriage problems. I’m about to the end of my rope. Any suggestions?"

If your husband’s Asperger’s symptoms are threatening your marriage, and he chooses to “protect” those symptoms rather than control them, his priorities may not be conducive to a long-term relationship. If his priorities remain the same, you need to decide whether or not this is the right relationship for you. Even if he does decide to get a diagnosis, you still need a strategy to resolve disagreements. Research suggests that successful conflict resolution is crucial to an enduring marriage. You and your husband can disagree about issues, but make sure you are consistently able to settle conflicts before you go to bed at night.

I receive dozens of emails every week from wives who assert that their husbands are simply in denial.  The bottom line is this: Your husband has to make a choice about what he values most – (1) his marriage, or (2) refusing to seek a diagnosis.  If he values his relationship with you more than staying in refusal-mode, then he will go and see if he has this disorder. If he values staying in refusal-mode more than his marriage, then YOU will need to do some serious soul-searching to decide whether you’re going to stay in this relationship or not.

It is never too late for your husband to increase self-awareness in order to capitalize on strengths and work around areas of challenge. Knowing about Asperger’s can give him an explanation, not an excuse, for why his life has taken the twists and turns that it has. What he does with this information is his business, but it is still very important information to have.

If your husband has Asperger’s but doesn’t know, it affects him anyway. If he does know, he can minimize the negative impact and leverage the positive. Without the knowledge that he has Asperger’s, he may fill that void with other, more damaging explanations (e.g., failure, weird, disappointment, not living up to his potential, etc.).

Note: As you try to talk with your husband about this, be sure to discuss his strengths rather than just focusing on his weaknesses. Most adults with Asperger’s have significant areas of strength. If you include a lot of the positive things you see in him (that may also be related to Asperger’s), he may not feel “attacked,” thus rendering him a bit more open to the possibility of facing his fears by going for a diagnosis.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

1 comment:

  1. As a wife-with-Aspergers married to an NT husband, I can relate. We've been married almost 11 years, and have been in and out of therapy much of that time.

    Here's the good news. I finally got diagnosed about 18 months ago. And since then we've been seeing a psychologist who specializes in Aspergers/Autism/ADHD. That has made *all* the difference.

    The therapists we saw in the past were family counselor types who didn't recognize that Asperger's was a fundamental part of our disconnect... so much of their advice just didn't help. Our current doctor is dealing with the underlying communication disconnect and helping my husband understand how my brain works and *why* I do the things I do. For the first time in years, we have both moved away from the, "I don't know if I can take this anymore" and toward tolerance and even empathy for our differences.

    You *can* work with it, but you've got to be willing to accept each other AS YOU ARE. Which means that the wife in this letter has to realize that hubby may be able to mitigate some of his "symptoms", but he's an Aspie and always will be and won't get "cured".


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