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How To Deal With An Angry Asperger's Husband

"My Asperger’s husband (Robby) has an awful temper, but blames me for causing it. What can I do to avoid triggering him? Is there anything I can do to take the steam out of his temper if he won’t work on it?"

Temper gets a particular hold on men with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism, because of the tendency for emotional flooding to occur. Here are a few ideas for you to try with your husband (in no particular order):
  1. When Robby is “going-off,” you can calmly say something like, “I’m going to read for a while” …or “I’m going to the store to pick up some milk.” Tell him you’ll be back in a little while.
  2. Never try to deal with a temper when it is active. When all is calm, try to help Robby identify the feeling underlying the anger (e.g., fear, frustration, helplessness, hopelessness, etc.). Help him find the words to express that feeling (e.g., “I feel helpless in this situation” …or “I felt frustrated by your comment” …or “I feel put down by you”). Allow him to be brutally honest here. It may be hard at first, but pays off once he has learned to do it. He can start by making the statements to himself if it’s too difficult to do so with you initially. Know, however, that Robby needs to take responsibility for his display of temper in the end. It’s his job – not yours.
  3. Most men with hot tempers will display just as much temper as they can get away with. So, if you don’t like the temper outbursts, tell Robby you are simply unwilling to put up with them. Tell him what will happen when he allows his temper to get out of control (e.g., “When you scream at me, I’m going to leave the house. I’ll come back home when you can speak to me in a normal voice.”). Then you must be willing to follow through.
  4. Do not reinforce Robby’s temper. When he blasts off, do not argue. The most you want to say is, “I’ll talk with you when you’ve calmed down.” (Note: You may need to wait until he is calm to say this.)
  5. Be patient with Robby as he tries to figure out what to do with your new plan. Since you are going to be "responding" to his temper using the ideas above (rather than reacting to – or participating in – the tantrum), he will be forced to come up with a different coping strategy, one that doesn’t involve you being on the receiving end of his rant-and-rave technique.

You may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can break Robby’s temper cycle by following these steps. It doesn’t have to be a long, trying process. Once Robby (a) learns that you will not take part in his tantrums (since you are going to make yourself absent during that time) and (b) sees that you are taking an active role in helping him to uncover the “real” feelings that are going on underneath the façade of anger, he may decide that his temper is his temper. In other words, he's the one choosing to have a temper ...he's doing it to himself rather than someone else doing it to him ...he's in charge rather than being a victim of uncontrollable external circumstances.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

2 comments:

  1. Julie B. said...

    If my husband is angry he almost alway screams, cusses, names calls and will not stop talking to me. I have suggested let's take a break to cool down, leave the room, or do something else. He will get more angry that I even suggested it and say I'm not leaving until I fix( fill in the blank) problem. many years of arguing back and other non affective things. I've prayed to God my Lord and savior Jesus about how to handle these things and I would be praying for him during the fight and for myself. I will not say anything unless he demands it. He wants me to admit whatever I did wrong and to fix it. If I humble myself, not lash out, speak kindly and admit fault. (I can't say I didn't mean to do it that will make him angrier.)

    If I do the things I just mentioned correctly and calming the fight will probably last 30 minutes to out a hour. If I argue back, get defensive, shift blame EVEN IF IT'S TRUE! The argument will and can go on for hours! We have three small children and I don't want them to see us fighting and him belittling me and calling me names when he is angry.

    Praying to God for wisdom and in this situation is the ONLY WAY any of its got ebetter. If the fight is not my fault and I know it's not my fault I have to find a way to make a sincere apology in any way I affended him and this will help calm him. There is not rashalizing with him when he is angry.

    It talks everything in me to pray and stay calm and repent to him what I've done to affend him with. But I do see the fruit of it. I can't convict him off his sin only God can and I do see changes in him. He does not get as angry as he used to and he has realized what had caused him to be angry. ( he does not like to scream and yell and shows remorse after the fact when he has calmed down .)

    By the way we just recently found out he has AS a few weeks ago and we been married over 6 1/ 2 years.

    I found this site yesterday and it's been helping me to understand my husband so much better. thanks for all the helpful information.

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  2. If he can't process or understand his emotions as an AS, he seeks comfort by using his defense mechanisms to gain clarity, seek reassurance, and Ultimately he will use and hold you accountable for how he feels.

    This is his disorder, his confusion, and only he can choose to accept it, learn about it, process it, and become accountable for his inability to adapt in this world. Becoming offended by what you say or do, needing your admission, and refusing to step away from conflict, guarantees hes unsure of his own emotions and guilty feelings.

    Leave him to sulk and reflect on what it is that makes him angry. Don't conform to his inner world and way of adapting. Admit to him your wrong doing, and apologize for it. Dont be responsible for how he feels. He chooses to become irate and be verbally abusive when its he that is offended in someway....allow him to decompress and talk while emotions arent high. His disorder does not excuse his behavior. Seek help or get out of that marriage

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