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How Aspie Husbands Can Avoid Arguments With NT Wives

Given an Aspergers man’s social skills deficits, arguments with his wife may be fairly frequent and intense (as compared to that of “typical” marriages). Aspie males fight with their women for many reasons, but the most prominent ones tend to be due to (a) mind-blindness and (b) difficulty with empathizing.

If you seem to always end up in a fight with your NT (i.e., neurotypical) spouse - seemingly over the most ridiculous and irrational things - then you may want to take some action before the marital bond is damaged beyond repair.

Here are a few ideas to implement that may keep arguments from starting (or from repeating):

1. Don’t be passive-aggressive. Frustrated Aspies often fall into passive-aggressive behaviors, because it is one way to avoid expressing true anger. You may think of anger as a “negative,” so instead of being honest and saying something like, "Your comment is upsetting to me," you might withdraw, become silent, engage in your “special interest” as a way to avoid discussing the issue at hand, sulk, or demean your wife by “correcting” her as if she were a child. There is always a way to express anger in a healthy way. Thus, explain that you are upset and why, using "I" statements to highlight your emotions over objective facts.

2. Use little white lies every now and then. Do you want to be rude to your wife for the sake of brutal honesty (e.g., “Dinner was terrible!”)? Then you will have another fight on your hands. Dinner may have very well tasted like crap, but you’ve got nothing to gain by saying so. And honestly, nobody cares about your opinion on the matter anyway. Keep it to yourself. Smile and tell her dinner was appetizing. Be a peace-maker rather than a trouble-maker.

3. Compliment your spouse every day. One of the major reasons for fights between spouses is that they don't feel acknowledged. Compliment your spouse regularly, and she will feel appreciated. Wives who feel appreciated are less likely to fight.

4. Create a process for resolving fights without anger. Anger often makes it hard to respond to a situation rationally. A good way to keep anger out of the equation is to take a few minutes to express your emotions when you have a misunderstanding, rather than immediately trying to “change” your wife’s viewpoint.

5. Take your spouse out on dates. A lot of disagreements result from issues that haven't been fully explored. It's very important to have a way to stay up to date and to create some kind of ritual that has the two of you talking on a regular basis. In this way, you may catch problems early BEFORE they become unmanageable.

6. Swallow your pride and learn to keep your mouth shut. There will be many opportunities for you to respond to a comment your spouse has made that will be an invitation to fight. When this happens, bite your tongue, take a hard swallow, and change the subject. Just do it!

7. Discuss new issues immediately. When you notice an issue is building up to a boiling point, do not sweep it under the rug. Rather, discuss the problem while it is still small. In this way, you can prevent a future explosion. Keeping issues bottled up means when the next disagreement occurs, you run the risk of bringing up the past, in which case, you will be fighting several battles at one time. This will make your wife feel attacked. Even small problems can lead couples to build resentment over time.

8. Know your specific triggers around fighting. Take an inventory so that you can discover what comments and situations elicit anger and quarrelsome behavior in you. List them – write them down. Then come up with an action plan so you won’t get trapped by them in the future.

9. Have a sense of humor about conflict, without discounting your wife’s viewpoint on the matter in question. Laughter can help lighten the mood in a heated situation. Spouses tend to bond over shared comical moments. Laughter can help remind you both of your shared love and passion. So, when the argument begins to dissipate, try finding some humor in the situation, which will help return a sense of normalcy to the state of affairs.

10.  Lastly, summarize what was discussed to make sure you understand. How are you both willing to work on the issue to make sure it doesn’t happen again? How does your wife feel? How do you feel? Taking a few minutes to summarize the situation after a fight can prevent it from reoccurring.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

What To Do After a Big Fight With Your Neurotypical Wife

Scenario: You’re a man with Asperger’s (high functioning autism), and you just went off on your wife. You were extremely mad, loud, and critical. Now your wife is hurt and resentful, and perhaps firing back with her own complaints and insults. Once the dust has settled and you’re starting to feel guilty about your explosive behavior, what can you do to try to mend fences?

Here are some ideas to help:

1. First of all, allow some time to pass (at least one hour) so the both of you can calm down. Nobody resolves a fight immediately after it has occurred. Wait until you can look at the situation objectively.

2. Next, take a look at what might have caused the argument. Do some analysis and brainstorm on what you could have done differently (e.g., Do you regret anything you said or did? What triggered the fight? What was the argument over? Did it involve several issues, or just one? …and so on).

3. When reviewing the situation, remember that memories are subjective, especially under tense circumstances. Your wife is going remember certain things about the argument that may be different from your recall. That’s O.K. It doesn’t mean that anyone is lying about what happened. It's just means that high-anxiety often causes memories to be imprecise.

4. After a fight, both parties need to accept and experience their true emotions. While certain feelings are painful to experience (e.g., rage, anger, sadness, disappointment, rejection, etc.), it's important to acknowledge these feelings rather than sweep them under the rug. Trying to cut-off your emotions is synonymous with hiding them in the closet. When the next argument occurs, those pent-up emotions will rear their ugly head again.

5. People with Asperger’s tend to be very rational – almost to a fault. But, you need to understand that feelings are not always rational. That’s O.K. The two of you are entitled to an emotional response to an argument, even if that response seems illogical to you. The part of the brain that expresses emotions is not the same part that can look at things logically.

6. Next, the two of you should come up with a time to discuss the issue(s). Pick a time to discuss the situation when there will be no constrictions on time (e.g., a Saturday night). Try to have the discussion right after dinner – but before bedtime – so that hunger and drowsiness won’t interfere with the discussion.

7. When discussing the problem(s), use body language to demonstrate that you are listening and open to suggestions (e.g., don’t cross your arms or do anything that makes you look defensive, make eye contact, nod occasionally, etc.).

8. Don’t interrupt your wife when she's speaking. When she pauses, ask for clarification if she said something you didn’t fully understand.

9. When it’s your turn to speak, don’t include too many details. Instead, try to get to your main point fairly quickly. Also, ask if she understands what you're saying.

10. Use "I" statements (e.g., instead of saying, "YOU overreacted to what I said" …say something like, "I felt like my point never came across as intended”).

11. Validate your wife's emotions. Even if you don’t agree with her, try to make her feel that her emotions are justified. Allowing your spouse to feel the way she does often removes a lot of negative tension from the situation.

12. Find out where the two of you disagree. All couples have a few issues that they can’t agree on. That’s O.K. Take the fight in question as an opportunity to discover where the two of you differ (e.g., about expectations regarding time together, your sex life, lifestyle choices, etc.).

13. Next, attempt to reconcile the dispute. The two of you should get into problem-solving mode:
  • Identify the problem: This is not always as simple as it sounds. In some cases, couples may mistakenly identify the wrong source of a problem, which will make attempts to solve it unproductive.
  • Define the problem: After the problem has been identified, it is important to fully describe the problem so that it can be solved.
  • Form a strategy: The approach used will vary depending upon the situation and the couple’s unique preferences.
  • Organize information: Before coming up with a solution, organize the available information (e.g., what do we know about the problem – and what do we not know?). The more information that is available, the better prepared the two of you will be to come up with an accurate solution.
  • Monitor progress: Effective problem-solvers tend to monitor their progress as they work towards a solution. If the two of you are not making good progress toward reaching your goal(s), then reevaluate the approach or look for new approaches to the problem.
  • Evaluate the results: After a solution has been reached, it is important to evaluate the outcome in order to determine if it is the best possible solution to the problem.

Sometimes simply acknowledging that the two of you feel differently about an issue can help ease stress in the relationship. Spouses often take certain things less personally if they understand where they differ personality wise.

14. Lastly, apologize. After considering your actions and role in the fight, apologize for any offenses. Make the apology specific and sincere in order to demonstrate that you have heard and understood your wife's concerns.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Make it Through the Holiday Season: Tips for Depressed “Aspies”

As odd as it may sound, sometimes the holiday season can be a source of depression, especially for individuals on the autism spectrum. Holiday depression is usually temporary and mild, but it can become serious and can linger unless some precautions are taken.

Signs of holiday depression include:
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Decreased energy
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling restless or fidgety
  • Feeling worthless, helpless, or guilty
  • Frequent crying
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in doing things
  • Sadness that won’t lift
  • Sleeping too much
  • Trouble concentrating

Is it possible to make it through this time of year without feeling down —and actually enjoy yourself? Yes! However, it will require (a) being proactive about sidestepping the challenges before they actually occur, and (b) self-awareness of the support you need and the situations that bring stress in your life during this time of year.

Here are some ideas to help alleviate the holiday blues:

1. Don’t feel “bad” about feeling “down.” There’s nothing wrong with not feeling cheerful. A lot of people experience the blues and feelings of loss during the holidays. So, be kind to yourself. Accept yourself no matter how you “feel” during this season.

2. Alter your expectations of the “ideal” Christmas.

3. Help others who may be feeling down during this time.  Be a good listener and encourage discussions about emotions and concerns. Acknowledge difficult emotions, including a sense of loss if family or friends have moved away or died.

4. Do something creative that is holiday-related (e.g., bake some cookies and decorate them, make a few home-made Christmas cards, etc.).

5. Focus on what is good and the things you have, rather than on what is bad and the things you don’t have.

6. Take a brisk walk in the morning before you begin the day, or in the early evening to wind down. Fresh air and sunshine (when the sun is actually shining) will boost your mood.

7. Limit or eliminate “mandatory” contact with people. True, this is a time for “get-togethers.” But, if socializing is going to make matters worse, find a solitary activity that will bring you some joy. Sometimes, there’s nothing worse than being around a group of “cheerful” people when you’re the only one who is far from feeling cheerful.

8. Practice random acts of kindness every day during this season – nothing fancy, though. Keep it simple (e.g., opening the door for someone whose hands are full of packages).

9. Only spend time with the people you REALLY want to spend time with.

10. If you’re not in the mood to socialize and have “face-to-face” contact with family or friends, then a friendly phone call, a nice e-mail, a greeting card or letter can brighten your spirits.

11. Volunteering is a great mood lifter. Contact your local United Way, or call your local school, hospital, museum, or place of worship to inquire about volunteer opportunities in your area.

12. Watch some Christmas comedies. Humor is perhaps the best mood lifter. Here are a few to consider:
  • "Bridget Jones's Diary" (2001)
  • "Elf" (2003) 
  • "Home Alone" (1990) 
  • "Jingle All the Way" (1996) 
  • "Miracle on 34th Street" (1994)
  • "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (1989) 
  • "Scrooged" (1988) 
  • "The Santa Clause" (1994) 
  • "When Harry Met Sally" (1989) 
  • “A Christmas Story” (1983)

Spring is right around the corner. So, get some enjoyment out of the holidays, because it will soon be over with!

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Aspergers Boyfriend Has a Computer Addiction?

“What can I do about my Aspergers boyfriend’s tendency to spend countless hours on the computer (researching this and that)? I don't usually care for labels, but I think it would be fair to call him a "computer addict." He is in his “home office” constantly and spends very little time with me or my son. Our relationship ALWAYS comes second. When I approach him about it, he just says, "I’ll be done in a bit… hold on!”  Do you have any ideas that can help us? We have talked about getting married someday, but we’re just not there yet. I really do love this man, but I have to wonder if he values being on the computer more than he does me.”

The first thing to do is to make an effort to get inside your boyfriend's mind. If you can understand his motivation and what makes him tick, you'll be in a better position to help him fully comprehend your concern. As you may already know, people with Aspergers are “wired” differently. One of the traits associated with the disorder is the fact that they give a lot of time and attention to just one or two “special interests.”

Give this a try: Plan a nice dinner out with your boyfriend on the weekend (without your son, if possible). Put aside your anger and disappointment and tell him how much you love him and appreciate him as a partner and a role model for your son. At the same time, be honest with him and let him know that his “computer time” seems to be taking precedence over the relationship. Tell him you value his input and involvement as a father-figure, and ask him if he would be willing to examine his schedule and make some changes.

If you can deliver this message in the spirit of love rather than resentment and frustration, you may be surprised at how positively your boyfriend responds. On the other hand, if he reacts defensively and denies there's a problem, it may be time for the two of you to consider couple’s counseling with someone who specializes in ASD. If he refuses to go to counseling, then you may need to either (a) learn to live with this situation, or (b) consider moving on.

If your boyfriend does express an openness to your concerns, then you've taken a huge step in the right direction. But you will want to have plenty of patience in store. If he truly has a computer addiction, he's not going to change overnight. If he's serious about making the changes you're requesting, he'll want to be held accountable by a therapist who specializes in addiction.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said…  So what is the sum total of all of this? My answer is this - ACCEPT PEOPLE AS THEY REALLY ARE.
•    Anonymous said… As to finding out what he needs, suggest you use a computer to interact with him.
•    Anonymous said… Best bet is to figure out why he feels he needs to spend that much time; if it is an escape what is he escaping from? Does he feel stressed/overwhelmed? But as states above setting concrete desires and plan of action; I need x # of hrs each day of personal interaction/Family time/etc and working that out; he may not realize or pick up that there is or that you have an issue with his actions.
•    Anonymous said… Don't use the word relationship it's meaningless..state what u want simply e.g. an ideal daily/weekly schedule then say please talk with me tomorrow night at...about this.he needs time alone with you too if poss..nothing improves unless you design it to
•    Anonymous said… I also have aspergrs and it is always helpful to have a schedule. Computer use from one time to another, family time from another time to another
•    Anonymous said… I am HFA and am 63 years old, am married. As a group ASDs generally tend towards empathy but away from overt displays of emotion. People tend to hide from things which bother them in some way. Perhaps he find emotions difficult or touching and being touched. Perhaps he cannot slow his thinking self down so as to hold a conversation. Perhaps his radius of privacy versus interaction is further away from himself than others' are aware. Also, be aware that ASDs may not be able to distinguish individual voices when more than one person speaks. Pushing emotional contact onto an ASD may result in a meltdown.
•    Anonymous said… I can pretty much guarantee your relationship comes first even though he doesn't show it. Aspies are highly loyal and dedicated. My husband is exactly the same way, video games and computers are his escape and relaxation. When our kids were younger we set it up that he doesn't play until after the kids go to bed (which was 8 for us). He also had to set an alarm for his phone or else he would play til all hours of the night. Also plan date nights where you can get out of the house. Good luck!
•    Anonymous said… I married late in life - after army service and after my 40th birthday - the 1 st marriage was not a success, though we struggled on for 11 years; I found her need for emotion and constant touching difficult to cope with and I escaped into books and hobbies.
•    Anonymous said… I reckon he loves you loads, personal space, my computer and other bits of nonsense represent safe haven for me, I use mobile devices to stay connected to that which allows me more time to venture out into the crazy world, I'm rubbish at peopling in general so not the best person to be giving relations advice, but when people say autistic folk don't feel stuff they are wrong, it is an overwhelming experience that creates my blank response to those deep situations not the fact that I'm not feeling anything, hope you can find some solutions.  😎 🎈
•    Anonymous said… I think you need to put very specific boundaries around your needs - ie I need to have an hour of time each day to catch up on life - etc
•    Anonymous said… In all of this I do not hear or see his voice nor what he wants - until you know what he honestly and truthfully wants, then you are whistling in the winds of uncertainty.
•    Anonymous said… My 3rd marriage happened late 2014 and we are both essentially loners who felt the need for companionship. M is severely disabled and I am her principle carer. Somewhat ironical because I wear a power chair. We annoy each other and then we laugh about it.
•    Anonymous said… My second marriage was to a lady I call the love of my life because she instinctively knew what she needed and when I needed to have separation because I was heading for a meltdown; we were really close - she was terminal when I met her and we had 8 years together. She died on the operating table on Jan 26th 2013. so just coming up to 4 years now.
•    Anonymous said… Nothing will change .. been there done that
•    Anonymous said… Now as to a non-ASD imposing rules or routines on an ASD - you are likely to find that he withdraws even more.
•    Anonymous said… now it sounds like your boyfriend is a typical Aspergic, let me tell you we love our patterns i have Aspergers my self, now i don't know him or you so i cant give direct advice but what i cab say is that yes he does love you, being and Aspergic we are drawn to certain things like technology, i my self love playing on my ps4 when i am at home. if i would give advice from an Aspergerics view point id say try to set up a time table of sorts a lot time for him to go on his pc and time rot you and your child.
•    Anonymous said… Yes He Probably Does value the time understanding and processing then with you. However that does not mean ur not valued. Tolerance levels of one on one and groups?
Asking for time in other activities is key for eveyone whos lives are online.
•    Anonymous said… Yes, this. 1. We need an exact, specific, literally-worded schedule, 2. Schedule ALL time, & 3. The hyperfocus on the computer/similar favorite activity is akin to what others do to relax and have fun. The computer stuff is simultaneously stimulating and relaxing. But it's also a need for us in this overwhelming world, not merely a hobby or escape.
•    Anonymous said… You need to be more concrete in your needs. People have mentioned a schedule for the computer but actually a schedule for family and couples time is probably s good idea too. Give him definites around the time and activities you expect him to do with you and his child. Now you may get tired of always doing the planning but getting him to plan things might be stage two. For now set up a schedule for the evenings. Including playtime for your son and time for just the two of you. It may be a good idea to schedule his computer time for the very last thing in the evening when you are having your own chill out time or going to bed. If he has met his commitments then don't complain about his computer time. If it cuts into his sleep time that's his issue. Not yours. Giving him very concrete plans is best. Saying vague things like you want him to spent time with you may get through to him as he won't understand what you want or what you are saying. Learn to speak his language and see how it goes. It's all about compromise and it may seem like it's you doing all the compromising but it won't be. Escaping into the computer or an activity is a natural impulse for us aspies and giving up some of that is actually hard. It doesn't mean we don't love our kids. This is " our" bottle or wine or beer . Or friends or social outings. These type of behaviour replace a hell lot of stuff people like you do naturally to feel good. Like friends or nights out or wine etc.

Post your comment below…

Anger to Meltdown to Guilt to Self-Punishment: An Asperger’s Dilemma


In working with adults on the autism spectrum over the years, I have noticed a prominent theme that I will refer to as AMGS, which stands for Anxiety - Meltdown - Guilt - Self-punishment. This is a cycle that many adults with Asperger's [or high functioning autism] have experienced since childhood. In a nutshell, the cycle starts with anxiety, which in turn leads to a meltdown, which then leads to the individual feeling guilty for acting-out his or her anxiety in the form of anger and/or rage, and ends up with the person punishing himself or herself due to repeated relationship failures that result from this destructive cycle.

Let's look at each of the steps in the cycle:

ANXIETY

Unfortunately, it is very common for adults with Asperger’s to experience more than their fair share of stress – and to make matters worse – many of these people also lack the ability to manage their stress effectively.

Individuals with Asperger's are particularly prone to anxiety disorders as a consequence of the social demands made upon them. Any social contact can generate anxiety as to how to start, maintain, and end the activity or conversation. Changes to daily routine can exacerbate the anxiety, as can certain sensory experiences.

Many of my clients have reported feeling anxious for no apparent reason at all. Some of these individuals tend to take life too seriously, take others' behavior and comments to personally, and generally consider themselves to be “worrywarts” (i.e., chronically worrying that something bad will happen, or something good won't happen).

MELTDOWN

As this anxiety, whatever its cause, builds up and builds up, eventually the dam breaks so to speak, usually over something very small. It's the straw that breaks the camel's back. This is called a meltdown.

Under severe enough stress, any normally calm and collected individual may become “out-of-control” – even to the point of violence. But Asperger's individuals experience repeated meltdowns in which tension mounts until there is an explosive release.

The adult version of a meltdown may include any of the following:
  • yelling and screaming
  • walking out on your spouse or partner
  • threatening others
  • talking to yourself
  • road rage
  • quitting your job
  • pacing back and forth
  • domestic abuse
  • crying
  • banging your head
  • angry outbursts that involve throwing or breaking objects 
  • aggressive behavior in which the individual reacts grossly out of proportion to the circumstance

The meltdown is not always directed at others. Asperger's adults who experience meltdowns are also at significantly increased risk of harming themselves, either with intentional injuries or suicide attempts. Those who are also addicted to drugs or alcohol have a greatest risk of harming themselves.

Asperger's adults who experience meltdowns are often perceived by others as “always being angry.” Other complications may include job loss, school suspension, divorce, auto accidents, and even incarceration.

Rage may be a common reaction experienced when coming to terms with problems in employment, relationships, friendships and other areas in life affected by autism spectrum disorders. There is often an “on-off” quality to this rage, where the person may be calm minutes later after a meltdown, while people around are stunned and may feel hurt. Neurotypical spouses (i.e., people not on the autism spectrum) often struggle to understand these meltdowns, with resentment and bitterness often building up over time. In some cases, the Asperger's individual may not acknowledge he has trouble with rage, and will blame others for provoking him. This can create a lot of conflict in a marriage.

There are hundreds of examples of how meltdowns can play out, but for the sake of this discussion, we will use the following example throughout:

The Asperger’s individual has had a rough day at work, but was able to maintain his composure for the most part. But, when he arrives home, his wife makes a comment that hits him wrong for some reason, and he explodes. In other words, he takes his stressful day out on his wife, unintentionally!

GUILT

If this particular scenario plays itself out numerous times over the months or years, the Asperger's individual may come to believe that he is a victim of his emotions -- in this case, work-related stress expressed in the form of misplaced anger toward his wife and other family members. But, not only does he feel like a victim of circumstances, he also feels an element of guilt and remorse for hurting the people that he loves. He may have tried numerous times to avoid repeating this scenario, but to no avail, because he still has work-related stress, and has not figured out a way to deal with this stress in a functional, non-destructive way.

On the mild end of the continuum, the adult in meltdown may simply say some things that are overly critical and disrespectful, thus ultimately destroying the relationship with the other party (or parties) in many cases. On the more extreme end of the continuum, the adult in meltdown may attack others and their possessions, causing bodily injury and property damage. In both examples, the adult often later feels remorse, regret or embarrassment.

SELF-PUNISHMENT

As a result of repeated social failures (in our example, numerous negative encounters with his wife), the Asperger's individual may come to the conclusion that he doesn't deserve love, compassion, or a peaceful lifestyle. Thus, he may do destructive things to punish himself. For example, beating up on himself with negative self-talk, drinking or drug use, overeating, isolation, and possibly even separation or divorce.

The use of self-punishment to reduce feelings of guilt has been well documented in many studies. Guilt is suppose to be a "pro-social emotion," (i.e., functions to preserve important relationships). But, many Asperger's individuals who experience repeated exposure to the AMGS cycle have "unresolved guilt," which prevents them from enjoying life and thriving emotionally.

Self-punishment tends to serve a dual purpose: (1) it relieves internal feelings of guilt, and (2) it impacts how others perceive us.  By engaging in self-punishment or costly apologies, the Asperger's individual demonstrates that he is willing to harm himself in some way to “even the score” with those he has wronged, thereby restoring his reputation as a "fair person."

ANXIETY (again)

And now we go full circle. The AMGS cycle can feel like being stuck in a perpetual nightmare if it continues long enough. Months – or even years – of experiencing a plethora of negative emotions (e.g., stress, frustration, anger, rage, guilt, etc.) can make relationships so problematic that the better option becomes living alone and avoiding human contact as much as possible. But, unfortunately, ALL of us are social creatures by nature. Thus, living a life of solitude carries its own element of anxiety. People need other people.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples
 
COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… I have the meltdowns but not necessarily anxiety...
•    Anonymous said… I thought it was part of my Aspergers that I never feel guilt for anything, no matter how badly I behave.
•    Anonymous said… Meltdowns and guilt, I always seem to blame myself. I always say it must be great being other people because it is never their fault.
•    Anonymous said… My son has done this I have worried it could turn into self harming at some point if he forces himself not to act out his anger..by trying to conform... at some point that emotion has to exit him somewhere and I have worried he'll turn it inwards on himself
•    Anonymous said… So true! This is the best explanation I've seen yet.
•    Anonymous said… Stress, anxiety, meltdowns, but not only anger meltdowns, depression meltdowns too  😬 😬
•    Anonymous said… tell me about it! Especially when the meltdown's to do with sexual needs and horrid NT women getting the man you'd die for.
•    Anonymous said… This is definitely my son, how do we break the cycle though?
•    Anonymous said… This is so my daughter. How do we help them??
•    Anonymous said… VERY true!!!!!!
•    Anonymous said… Yes I live alone as much as anyone can with 7 dogs and 2 cats and I love it. At 60 I realise that just because they tell you you should be social, doesn't mean its true. Soon as other folks enter the scenario, the chaos starts.
•    Anonymous said… Yes, I relate to this rotation
•    Does anyone have any resources to share in how to break this cycle or give the person tools to self regulate?
•    Parenting Aspergers Children - Support Group RE: "How to break the cycle..." -- The core issue here is "anxiety." If that can be circumvented, then the cycle never starts. Here are some ideas: http://www.adultaspergerschat.com/.../anxiety-reduction...

Please post your comment below…

Asperger’s Adults and Problems with Social Imagination

Many people with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have trouble understanding and predicting the intentions and behaviors of others (sometimes referred to as “mind-blindness”). It’s difficult for them to imagine situations that are outside their usual routine, and they often carry out a narrow, repetitive range of activities. This is not to say that these individuals have a lack of imagination. Most AS and HFA adults are very creative, and some go on to become talented artists, musicians or writers.

People on the autism spectrum may find it difficult to: 
  • accept changes in routine
  • accept others’ points of view
  • appreciate other people 
  • attempt work if they feel they are unable to do it perfectly
  • avoid talking incessantly about their topic of interest
  • cope in new or unfamiliar situations
  • cope with “mistakes”
  • deal with rules being broken
  • determine and interpret others’ thoughts, feelings and actions
  • discover an awareness of unwritten rules (‘”the hidden curriculum”)
  • engage in imaginative play and activities
  • foresee what will or may occur next
  • identify hazards
  • organize their time and/or equipment
  • plan for the future
  • predict the consequences of their own behavior
  • prepare for change

Without the skill to predict what will happen next, the ability to move from one activity or environment to the next is significantly compromised. This can cause extreme anxiety. Having said that, people with AS and HFA can learn many things quickly and easily. But oftentimes, they must learn by “rote” (i.e., repetition, memorization). As a result, they may have limited understanding of what they have learned and how to use it in different situations. While these individuals have excellent memories for certain things (e.g., dates, facts, figures, etc.), they often lack a meaningful framework to store and access memories relating to personal experience.

When it comes to interpersonal relationships, it is important to break free from the immediacy of personal circumstances and put things into a wider context, rather than following a routine. Social imagination is the ability to shift from one perspective to another, to pull away from the situation and think from an alternative point of view. In other words, it is a skill in which the person places himself outside of everyday routines and views his actions or life from a third party perspective.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

The Bullying of People with Asperger’s: Long-Term Effects

Children don’t easily outgrow the agony of being bullied. There are some significant long-term effects on their risk for anxiety, depression, suicidality, and a whole host of outcomes that can wreak havoc on adult lives. Many – if not most – adults with Asperger’s (high-functioning autism) were mistreated as children by some members of their peer-group. They may have been teased, bullied or rejected due to their “odd” behavior and way of viewing the world. As a result, these adults bear the scars of those experiences today. And to matters even worse, many grown “Aspies” continue to be bullied in the workplace.

Social rejection occurs when a person is purposely excluded from a social relationship (e.g., a friend) or a social group (e.g., classmates). Rejection can be either “active” (e.g., bullying, teasing, ridiculing, etc.), or “passive” (e.g., ignoring the person, giving the "silent treatment," etc.).

Childhood peer-relations have been identified as one of the most powerful predictors of future mental health problems, including the development of psychiatric disorders. Social rejection is psychologically painful because of the social nature of human beings. The need for acceptance and belongingness is a fundamental motivation for ALL of us. Everyone (even introverts) need to be able to give and receive affection to be emotionally healthy. We all need (a) stable relationships and (b) satisfying interactions with individuals in those relationships. If either of these two factors is missing, the person in question will begin to feel isolated and hopeless. In fact, the majority of human anxieties appear to be due to social exclusion, which may explain why so many Asperger’s adults have anxiety issues.

Due to the symptoms associated with Asperger’s, many children with the disorder are unpopular with peers, easily provoked, have a poor understanding of social cues, and experience low self-esteem. Research reveals that such children often grow up to be 6 times more likely to have a serious illness, smoke regularly, or develop a psychiatric disorder. By their mid-20s, these former bully-victims are more likely to leave school without qualifications, drift through jobs, be obese, and less likely to have friends.

Some level of rejection is an inevitable part of life for all of us, whether or not we behave “oddly.” However, rejection becomes a problem when the individual is highly sensitive to rejection, when it is prolonged or consistent, or when the relationship is important. Rejection by an entire group has especially negative effects, possibly resulting in a heightened sensitivity to future rejection, aggression, anxiety, depression, feelings of insecurity, a negative outlook on life in general, loneliness, low self-esteem, or social isolation.

As a therapist working with adults on the autism spectrum, it has often been difficult to differentiate between a client’s Asperger’s-related symptoms versus symptoms associated with being a social outcast of sorts. For example, many of these adults prefer to live alone, refusing to date or marry. Is this due to the fact that they are (a) “task-oriented” versus “people-oriented” and (b) more concerned with facts than feelings (both of which are Asperger’s traits) – or have they simply been rejected and ridiculed (not an Asperger’s trait) for so long that they have learned it’s much less painful to travel through life alone?

Some Aspies spend most of their time alone because being around other people is just too difficult. They may feel that others are judging them for their disorder. So, they may withdraw to avoid this stigmatization. However, this social withdrawal is psychologically very costly. But, this is a two-way street: the Aspie withdraws from society, and society withdraws from the Aspie.

When anyone – whether or not they are on the autism spectrum – does not have enough social contact with at least one “significant other,” it affects that person emotionally and physically. Social isolation is both a cause and an effect of mental anguish. When the Aspie isolates more, he faces more mental anguish. With more mental anguish, he wants to isolate even more. No wonder why this vicious cycle relegates many adults on the spectrum to a life of depression, anxiety, and solitude.

Bullying Exerts Psychiatric Effects Into Adulthood:


We simply can’t continue to dismiss bullying as a harmless, almost inevitable, part of growing up. We should change this mindset and acknowledge that this as a serious problem.

Your comments (see below) would be greatly appreciated. Were you bullied as a child? How has that affected you throughout your life?

Challenges Facing Wives Who Are Married to Aspergers Husbands

The challenges facing some women who are married to a man with Aspergers (high-functioning autism) can be difficult to navigate. These challenges may be completely hidden to other family members, friends and co-workers. No one seems to understand what the wife struggles with. Her husband may seem to be a “good guy” who appears perfectly "normal" to everyone else.

Being married to a man on the autism spectrum may be filled with a predictable progressive pattern that goes from joyful to puzzled to irritated to angry, and finally, to hopeless. In the beginning, the wife may have been swept off her feet and ravished with affection and attention. She was the primary focus of her boyfriend's life. His “obsession” with the relationship felt romantic and intoxicating. But, after a few years of marriage, this feeling may have faded.

The waning of affection is not conscious on the Aspergers husband's part. He is most likely not even aware that this has happened. However, as time goes on, the wife may experience certain negative emotions associated with her husband’s need to find interesting activities in places outside of the relationship. Examples of these emotions include:
  • Hopelessness: When the wife’s best effort to resolve the ongoing relationship difficulties goes nowhere, a lack of hope may permeate the relationship and lead to a separation or divorce.
  • Rejection: Men on the autism spectrum are often consumed by their "special interest." They may be chronically distracted by this interest and find it difficult to pay attention to their wife. This may lead her to feel neglected, or it can be misinterpreted as disinterest on the part of her husband.
  • Resentment: This emotion becomes prevalent when the wife feels ignored, disregarded, disrespected, and alone in the relationship. Some wives will respond to this by becoming very angry and yelling at their husband, while others will shut down and block all emotions (with the possible exception of sadness and depression). 
  • Extreme fatigue: As the wife tries to compensate for the lack of equal sharing or follow-through in responsibilities, she often feels exhausted. In her mind, no amount of effort appears to resolve the problems that continue to plague the relationship. Due to the inconsistency in her husband's willingness take responsibility for things, feelings of being burdened with more than her fair share of tasks (e.g., chores, child-care, bills, etc.) creates more feelings of exhaustion and tension.
  • Feeling devalued: Wives of Aspergers husbands often get the feeling that all their good suggestions and advice are not taken to heart. This may cause the wife to come to the conclusion that her ideas, opinions, wants and needs are worthless to her husband.
  • Disappointment: In the viewpoint of the wife, the same kinds of problems keep presenting themselves over and over again. She has tried to discuss the issues in question, and she has tried to make herself understood, yet the same problems persist.
  • Feeling isolated:  Because her husband seems disinterested in what she has to say and appears to ignore her, it easy to understand why the wife may feel lonely.

Since the Aspergers husband may not even be aware that the marriage has changed for the worse, he doesn't understand why his wife is always so demanding and "bitchy." Her increasing dissatisfaction, resentment and complaints only further damage any chances of communication and intimacy because the husband feels that he can “never do anything right.” He may even feel unloved.

The negative, downward spiral that we just looked at may be avoided when both spouses understand the way Aspergers symptoms are affecting the relationship. It is VERY possible to learn different behaviors to heal these kinds of wounds.

Relationship Skills for Couples Affected by Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

Asperger’s Adults and Blue Mood

For the purposes of this post, the term “blue mood” is used to describe a mild form of depression, but one that is chronic (i.e., lingering through the life-span). For the person with Asperger’s (high-functioning autism), a blue mood often begins in adolescence due to his or her lack of social skills and inability to fit-in with the peer group, being criticized, teased, bullied, and ostracized – all of which usually result in low self-esteem and a preference for social isolation (i.e., preferring to be by oneself).

Ridicule and rejection often takes its toll over the years, resulting in not only a pervasive blue mood, but also an element of paranoia in the mind of the “Aspie.” In other words, he or she is so used to being mistreated (emotionally and/or verbally) that he or she comes to expect it. Being highly suspicious of others, preparing for an attack of some kind, and jumping to defensiveness very quickly is not uncommon in adults on the autism spectrum. In addition, it is not uncommon for the “blue” Aspie to use drugs or alcohol to try to relieve his or her despondency and other unpleasant emotions.

Oftentimes, autistic adults’ paranoid tendencies result in a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, their “expectation of ridicule and rejection” leads them to say or do something that provokes the very negative response from the other person that they so dread. For example, in anticipation of a critical comment, the Aspie may deliver one first, inciting the other person to return the criticism. This, in turn, convinces the Aspie that others and indeed “out to get” him or her.

Unfortunately, many people with Asperger’s not only had to endure various forms of social stress throughout the school years, they now experience much of the same at their place of employment. Many have reported bullying in the workplace.

The main venue for the Aspie’s retaliation against others for past hurts tends to be online (e.g., in chatrooms, forums, etc.) where he or she can chastise others, yet remain fairly anonymous. The typical Asperger’s adult does not have the confidence or social skills to stand up to the “offending party” face-to-face.

As adults, Aspies with a blue mood experience little joy in their lives. They tend to take life too seriously, and to take other’s comments and behavior too personally. In fact, many Asperger’s adults that I have worked with are unable to remember a time when you felt happy, enthusiastic, or motivated. They often report feeling as though they have been in a one-down-position their entire life.

These individuals tend to be rather irritable, gloomy and negative much of the time, usually expecting the worst possible outcome when uncomfortable challenges and struggles arise. They tend to be inactive and withdrawn, worry frequently, and are critical of themselves. Most have a hard time enjoying things and having fun – unless it is a solitary activity, usually one that involves their “special interest.” As one man with Asperger’s stated, “My social skills were and still are, reasonably poor. I have never been able to like myself. I have never cared about my appearance, having long ago decided that I was ugly and unattractive anyway and that grooming and clothes would make no difference to the obvious. Even though I was able to marry a very beautiful woman who loved me deeply and many have assured me that this is not the case at all, inside I have always felt it to be the truth.”

A blue mood appears to affect more women than men. Many of these women report feeling mildly, yet chronically depressed to the point that it seems to be a part of their personality. Kara, a female with Asperger’s, had this to say: “Well I have AS and people are always telling me that I need to change who I am to become more outgoing and social. I don't think there's a problem with me. That's just my personality, part of who I am. Unfortunately there's not much out there in terms of books and things that give dating advice to people with AS. People just assume that we like being alone and don't desire to date, but this isn't necessarily true. I want to feel emotional attachment. I'm just kind of unsure about how to achieve it. I don't really have the social skills to form lasting relationships with people.”

Having a blue mood may be associated with the presence of personality disorders (e.g., avoidant, dependent, histrionic, borderline, and narcissistic). However, it is difficult to determine the extent to which a personality disorder is present since many of the long-term problems of having a blue mood affect interpersonal relationships and how the Asperger’s individual perceives him- or herself.

If the Asperger’s adult finally seeks treatment, it is not uncommon that he or she has had this problem for a many years. Because a blue mood tends to develop in adolescence, the Aspie may believe that it is normal to always feel this way. He/she does not realize that the quality of his/her mood is anything out of the ordinary. So, it often goes unnoticed and, therefore, untreated. The symptoms of a blue mood tend to be chronic, yet the affected individual often does not seek treatment unless he or she develops major depression. Having a blue mood increases the risk of developing major depressive disorder. 

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Relationship Difficulties Due to Deficits in "Theory of Mind"

"I have been married to my Aspergers husband for 17 years of emotional hell. I have not had any physical touch for 10 years, no hugs, kisses, hand holding. I am completely alone in this marriage. No emotional support and raised 2 kids who felt completely rejected because of him. He doesn't support his family because he is a droid …looks like a regular person on the outside but empty on the emotional scale, it just doesn't exist. I now understand that what I have called "socially inappropriate behavior" has a name called Aspergers. I now understand that his brother and mother also share this diagnosis. The behavior I have been exposed to during our relationship has been devastating and painful. I have come to believe that my husband does not love me. I began drinking to be comfortably numb and what he did and said and didn't do didn't hurt so much. I entered AA over a year ago and believed him when he said I was an alcoholic. I thought it would solve all of our problems – but it hasn’t. Still at square one."

I'm not sticking up for your husband here. He will have to face the consequences of his behavior just like everyone else does. But, you need to understand the difference between (a) blatant, intentional disregard for others' feeling versus (b) difficulty empathizing.

Empathy can be defined as understanding the emotional makeup of other people. It is a core component of emotional intelligence and helps us to develop deep levels of trust. Unfortunately, many adults with Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) do not seem to resonate very well with the experiences of others.  While they may understand others’ circumstances, they may not have the necessary emotional response.

The “Aspies” solitary lack of engagement with others may develop to some degree into what can be described as apparent selfishness. Your husband may seem narcissistically concerned only with his own needs. However, what is really going on has more to do with deficits in “theory of mind.” Theory of mind involves the ability to attribute mental states to others, and to be able to describe what others may be feeling in a given situation.

Theory of mind is the capacity we have to understand mental states (e.g., feelings, desires, intentions, etc.). It’s the way we imagine others’ feelings or thoughts. Theory of mind enables us to understand that the behavior other people display is caused by their inner feelings, beliefs or intensions. We can predict some of those behaviors and anticipate them. Whatever goes on in the mind of others is not visible, so it will remain a “theory” we create for ourselves. However, most people on the autism spectrum lack this ability to “theorize.”

What if one is unable to link the behavior of others to their inner feelings? Answer: the person can’t understand or predict the behavior of others. How can the Aspie make sense of the behavior of others around him if he doesn’t understand why others are feeling sad, angry, resentful, etc.? And to make matters worse, the person with AS or HFA can’t link his own behavior to the feelings of others so he can be unable to anticipate or predict their response.

Sadly, the absence of the ability to understand what others think or feel is at the root of most difficulties people on the spectrum have in communication and social interaction. As one husband with Asperger’s stated, “Never knowing how my wife feels or why she reacts the way she does makes me feel stupid. I’m like a blind man that keeps running face first into the same wall over and over again.”

This is a man who has given up on himself, as so many other autistic men have. If these men could “fix” their theory of mind deficits, most - if not all - would have done so long ago. Instead, they continue to be misunderstood and labeled insensitive, selfish, and uncaring. Oftentimes, the result is serious relationship difficulties and divorce.

 
COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said…  i have feels for you and completely understand. I have been married 14 years to my aspie husband. First time i did not aware of his condition, ( and even have specific name for it) even himself not aware of. But last year he figure out himself (no clinical diagnosis) and as years goes by, our relationship is not easy, lot of negativity, criticism, unsuportive behaviour from him for me. I feel so lonely have to cope things on my own, and raise my kids who seems have same behaviour. His family knew this from long time but they ignore it and defend him. I have no emotional support at all. My family is overseas and my husband and i hardly visit them as it is expensive. I have no permanent job, and my husband not even help me to find one for me. He does his own business and i only help when he needs me and he is so perfectionist and fuss, particular on his own way to do things. If i talk like this to others, then they will direct me to the questions: how did we met ? I am not trying to deny this question, but even him self not aware that he has this condition. Same like other people who have illness or disorder, do they always aware of their condition until someone else can notice it ? Or until they can feels themself are having lot of trouble (uneasy) specially in their social life.
•    Anonymous said…  I'm afraid I'm on the opposite end of this dialog. I'm a recently diagnosed Aspie who has been the callous, melt-down prone, controlling, ice queen that destroyed several very important relationships (one of which still haunts me with regret). I had no idea that I was on the spectrum and I'm sure most folks just thought I was bat-guano crazy. Heck, I even thought so for years. I began to have suspicions at the late age of 53 that something about me was intrinsically different from other people, and I took the initiative to consult a specialist. Now that I have a "label" for the indescribable chaos I have unwittingly inflicted on the world, myself and my near and dears, it has helped me to monitor my responses to the world more carefully and hopefully function a bit more adroitly. I will not, however, EVER be able to make amends for the hurt and destruction I have caused along the way. Believe me, we DO feel, and VERY deeply--but sometimes, we just have no idea how to express it. It's almost as if by simply feeling, I've assumed that the significant person at the time knew. They didn't. I am sorry for all of us, Autistic and NT alike. Our struggles to understand each other do leave casualties. ( ; _ ; )
•    Anonymous said…  Just putting it out there, but narcissism can get confused for Aspergers.
•    Anonymous said… Aspergers is something you must read about and study to understand. It is a higher form of Austism.
•    Anonymous said… Being married to an aspie is very hard. I can relate to the woman who wrote this letter.
•    Anonymous said… Everyone is our mirror and we can learn from looking into that mirror. Calling him a droid breaks my heart for him. He may not be able to feel her feelings or understand what she needs in a given situation, but as someone else pointed out, he can learn to give this woman what she needs. He can learn to give their children what they need. And the children can learn to understand him better, as well. Understanding others is something people with abilities take for granted. It's able privilege. Our abilities can do us a disservice by allowing us to ignore the plight and the pain of people who are unable to do what we can do. She needs to stop blaming him and learn some empathy herself. She needs to make sure her children become intimately acquainted with empathy, as well. She does her children just as much harm as she believes his Aspergers has done. She chose to stay, she chose to let her children live this way, and apparently she did nothing to learn about or teach her children about Aspergers. She chose to drink. Blaming him for her own choices is just plain silly. This is my opinion based on this woman's very harsh words, but I realize that others will disagree with me.
•    Anonymous said… Have you been to marriage counseling? Or therapy just for yourself? Honestly, it might help.
•    Anonymous said… Honestly my hubby is the same way, but marriage to my hubby has been very fulfilling. He may not be physically or emotionally available but he says he loves me in other ways. In his own ways, the world is not made up of ALL the same kinds of ppl *emotionally available*. And also what is it you want them to do? They can't just like a switch turn on emotions. We've been married 21 yrs and I don't expect things from my hubby that he just can't give. Because he just can't feel emotions, and he falls into his own depression because he doesn't know why or how he just can't feel,and he struggles himself with feeling like I need or want more, but Blaming him isn't the way to go about it, I find fulfillment in other things, we are best friends,we go on long rides on our harley, he buys me those stupid little things he knows I love *my favorite granola* he's always home and comes to bed every night, he shares his food with me and let's me steal drinks from his cup, he gives hugs on occasions and kisses. I find it horrible that anyone could blame someone who can't help who they are, because it's just who they are. And you either love them or you don't, you either stay or you leave. My wonderful hubby is the best part of me because he loves me out of the box.
•    Anonymous said… HOw bloody rude some other people have been. Its never just as simple as that, especially when you have spent 17 years with someone and have children with them. OP- there is a huge difference between him having AS and him being abusive. I believe his behaviour in regards to him blaming your alcohol usage is abusive. My advice? You deserve to be happy, as do your children. Leave him and find someone who will care for you and demonstrate that love.
•    Anonymous said… I feel so sad for the woman in the op, but she has one thing wrong-- aspergers does not mean a person is 'emotionally empty'. He may not love her, but that does not mean he is incapable of love. I'm sorry for the awful marriage, but it's untrue to equate someone not loving you or not being able to show you love to them not being capable of it
•    Anonymous said… I find this society difficult because we have it drummed into us that we shouldn't treat people differently because they have a disability however you can't leave an unhappy relationship because they can't help it. I feel that more people will feel stuck unhappy because of this in between mentality. OP he may not be able to help it, but your expectations when you married him are not being met, and it's ok not to be ok with that. You don't have to blame him or yourself but whether he had a diagnosis or not, sometimes people don't grow together the way they expect to and you're allowed to feel unfulfilled.
•    Anonymous said… I was thinking the same thing, Jennifer. I have a son who is an Aspie and I would think she would have noticed his behavior before she chose to say, "I do".
•    Anonymous said… if he did used to hold her hand and kiss etc and then stopped it is not his aspergers at fault, he may be falling out of love with her
•    Anonymous said… I'm confused, do people with Aspergers just suddenly become emotionally absent? I guess I'm confused as to how people wouldn't notice this when they are dating and considering marriage. I'm not trying to be snarky in my comment I really just simply don't know.
•    Anonymous said… It is a very, very difficult problem sometimes... Not all people with Aspergus are difficult... But my life has been hard due to my Father having this... He is 92 and was never given any help throughout his life.
•    Anonymous said… mine never says 'i love you' but he shows me every day in his actions we have been together 12 years
•    Anonymous said… most people with aspergers are not this way
•    Anonymous said… My Aspie hubby is very loving and giving, his main differences is logical order, sensory sensitive, and can seem aggressive due to these. My Aspie neighbour is very affectionate and appreciative gentlemen, his differences is mainly understanding life skills. Everyone is different, but there is always some level of affection given. Get counselling.
•    Anonymous said… My son is 12 and is Aspergers, I worry on a daily basis that he will grow to be an emotionally abusive partner but then I remember that nurture trumps nature. We will ensure he has the upbringing he needs to navigate life and treasure family above all else. I am sorry for all you have been through but do not be naΓ―ve and write people off because of a condition.
•    Anonymous said… No, this is wrong. Many people with Aspergers display emotions and empathy for others.
•    Anonymous said… She said that in the last 10 years she's not had any physical touch but has been married for 17. I've heard of many occasions when Aspies have said they could only pretend for so long so perhaps he began shutting down. I feel for both parties involved.
•    Anonymous said… So you married him because you thought you would 'fix' him or 'cure' him? What you describe is not typical of autism. I think there are issues other than autism. Seek counseling together.
•    Anonymous said… The emotions are very limited. The mind works different. It is very difficult to deal with Aspergers. Doesn't mean he don't love you. When they reject you can be long term. I worry about my teen and relationships. It is definitely a challenge because of social skills, limited emotionals, obsessions, rituals, or daily habits. Sometimes, they can not help the things that they do. They just do things that we don't understand. Please understand that he will likely never change, even if her desires to. Ladies, know who you are getting involve with pertaining to a relationship. Aspergers is not a bed of Roses and it will never be.
•    Anonymous said… The one person with Asperger is not the other person. What works in one marriage, and how the husband/wife with the Asperger is in that marriage cannot be compared to how other people are in other mariages because everyone has an own character. My exhusband does not feel a thing inside. He says it every time again. He simply does not feel, except for who he choses to feel and for himself. So when my youngest daughter cries for her daddy, calls him and asks him to please come by he just says, sorry, no can do. He says he has learned how to act by looking at the reactions of other people but when I would lay on the street through an heartattac/accident he would not help me and would just drive further. He has said it time after time, sorry, I know it is very hard for you but when I walk out of the door I do not miss you or the children, I do not think about you at all, no matter the time. And he has proven it time and time again, that he cannot feel much. Like an empty shell, who acts automatic. He falls asleep while talking to me, he does very strange things, he is not capable to care for our children and told me that he only wants to be part when the happy things are happening and does not want to be a parent. And the happy things only before a certain time. His parents and brother are the same, no emotions, except for themselves and for the ones they chose too. For the outside world they seem very nice but inside the house it is cold. It is hard to live with someone like that and I have made the choice to leave him after trying it over and over again because I wanted my kids to have their daddy and I wanted to not leave him alone because he has not chosen to have Asperger. Now he tells me that it is better this way, that I have made the good choice, that he is happy. And I try to have some kind of friendship with him so that my kids can have both parents. I really try. But one thing I have learned is that one can have Asperger and still care about his or hers family. So I will never judge other families cause I do not know a single thing about their life except what I have read which can be read or felt in more than one way. Drinking is not the solution though but I think you allready know that. I feel with, and give you a big hug!
•    Anonymous said… This poor woman. I can completely relate. Here's a couple thoughts. 1. I think this lady is expecting too much from her husband. He cannot make her complete. He isn't capable and even if they attend counseling, she will still feel like a checklist. BUT counseling will at least give give an answer of where his heart is and if he does love her, he can learn how. My theory is that this cannot happen without a counselor because although she is the expert on herself, he may now be aware of his social shortcomings unless an expert in Asperger's tells him. 2. It's not fair to blame him for the drinking. She made the choice to start (not knowing she was an alcoholic) and from there, her brain took over. 3. Her "emotional numbness" sounds like textbook depression. I want her to know that neither the alcoholism nor the depression was her choice. Why would anybody choose that? Her brain lacks the ability to make the hormone for happiness (the drinking replaces the hormone). It is treatable. I would advise her to start with counseling for herself only and regular exercise and planning some regular fun. She needs to love herself instead of expect her husband to do it for her. I think that once she's done these things, she'll be able to think more clearly and make a good decision to either accept her husband as he is, or leave. There is no right or wrong choice. It's her life, it's her choice. I just want to make sure she's able to think and feel clearly before doing something she regrets.
•    Anonymous said… This will sound judgemental and I apologise. You've made the way he is turn you into an alcoholic?!! You should have left him years ago. I'm sorry but you should have protected YOUR kids! They are the ones that are COMPLETELY innocent!
•    Anonymous said… this would have shown through before she married him....so why did she marry him in the first place???
•    Anonymous said… We have been martied for 18 yrs there are struggles. He doesnt get some ques but we work together on it. That doesnt mean i dint have days i want to bop him and say really??
•    Anonymous said… well as an aspie/autistic myself, this makes me incredibly depressed for my future...

Post your comment below…

Resentment in the Neurotypical Wife

Comment:

I've been married to a man with aspergers for 35 years and he has sucked the life from me. There is no cure for this condition and it will never get any better. I've grown to utterly despise him, and then, of course, hate myself for despising him because he ‘can't help it’. I know this sounds terribly resentful on my part. But my advice to all women neurotypicals married to Aspies: It does NOT get better - it gets worse! Get out early while you can have a life. You're not doing anyone any favors - your Aspie husband and not yourself. You will end up regretting not having a life. Let your Aspie husband find an Aspie wife. You find a neurotypical husband. Living with an Aspie husband is living with an abusive husband. Period. Do you want to be a victim of abuse? Get out early.

Response:

You’re right! This does sound terribly resentful on your part. But, if you’re being honest (and it sounds like you are), then you’re entitled to feel what you feel. And I’m sorry to hear that it has come to this point where you are so deeply hurt – perhaps beyond repair. So, rather than defend your Asperger’s husband, I would simply like to validate what you have said and what you have been feeling.

If you find that some people are critical of you for saying what you said here, and for feeling the way you do now, then they haven’t been through a similar challenge – they have no frame of reference and truly do not understand your pressures. They can’t imagine being in your situation. As a result, they may tend to minimize your predicament, asserting that the problem is your attitude and resentment-level rather than your husband’s "hurtful" behavior (which may very well be unintentional on his part – after all, he still has a “disorder”).

If you've repeatedly confronted your Asperger’s husband about his behavior and things haven't improved, you need to draw a line to accept that you've done as much as you possibly could to improve relations with him. There's no more thought that you need to give to the situation. Don't overanalyze your behavior or his. He may truly WANT to “change,” but may be unable to meet your needs due to his disorder. So, move on with your life and restore your sanity. Stop beating up on yourself for feeling the way you do. In this way, I believe you will be able to heal and let go of resentment.

Let me share what one neurotypical wife said about how to cope with an Asperger's husband (who at one time was feeling similar to how you feel now):

“I know EXACTLY how you feel. This is my life in a nutshell. One thing that helps me is to write my thoughts and feelings down, then have him read them. This gives me time to calm down and think about how I want to say something. Also, you need to give logical reasons for things, at least I do. For example: 

'I need you to take out the trash because I'm cooking dinner' ... 'It upsets me when you ignore me for video games because it makes me feel like you'd rather play games than be married to me. I'm asking for help because I can't do everything myself' ... 'You cook, I clean. This is our agreement' ... 'You can't be around chemicals, so you have to sweep, vacuum, and do the laundry.' 

Getting emotional usually frustrates and/or shuts my husband down. Once I learned to take a step back, breathe, and think of a reasonable argument in a calm, low tone, things got SO much better. I'm a hot-tempered Texan, so it's not 100%. Ask him what he needs. That really changed my relationship. Also, try reading "Five Love Languages". There's a quiz you can both take that will tell you your love language, which was crazy eye-opening for me and my husband.”

There's always hope. Please remember that :) 

Best of luck!

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Rules of Effective Listening: Tips for Men on the Spectrum

Being a good listener won't just make a big difference in your relationship and sex life, but in every part of your life that involves social contact. Effective listening may be the most crucial factor in keeping your relationship running smoothly.

Rules of Effective Listening: Tips for Men on the Spectrum

1. Always give your partner your undivided attention. Make sure that you're not watching the basketball game while she's trying to discuss your next weekend get-away together.

2. Don’t be judgmental. Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as positive, constructive criticism.

3. Don't try to fix things. Most guys are under the misconception that they need to provide all the answers in a relationship. WRONG! Make sure your wife is involved in ALL decision-making opportunities. In this way, she will feel more loved, involved and special.

4. Help your partner along by asking questions to encourage her to open up and to clarify things for you.

5. NEVER be sarcastic. If you do, it insults your wife’s intelligence.

6. Realize that listening to women is a great man-skill to have. Most likely, no one ever told you that listening to women is an important part of "being a man," so you may have tended to discount it.

7. Remember that your one and only job while listening is to understand your partner’s experience, feelings, attitude or point of view.

8. Show your wife that you truly understand her point of view. Whether or not you agree with her, talk to her in a calm and composed manner. Don’t forget, as soon as your tone of voice goes up, so will hers. If she is shouting, then bring your voice down and she will probably do the same.

9. Try to recognize the different sets of emotions that your wife speaks with. For most wives, the feeling is usually more important than the content of a conversation.

10. Understand that listening is not the same as agreeing. Men don’t have to agree with their wives, just listen and try to understand. Women are usually more receptive to working things out and comprising when they feel understood.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Taking Things Too Personally: Tips for Adults on the Autism Spectrum

Do you frequently feel offended by the remarks or actions of others? Do you take every minor event too seriously, allowing it to scare you or piss you off? Does someone else's bullying personality make you feel worthless? Do you mistake people's antics for subtle insults? Does this justify feeling offended?

Taking things too personally makes life difficult. When you take things too personally, you make yourself more vulnerable to anger, frustration and “meltdowns.” Taking things too personally is like intentionally placing a heavy load on your shoulders. Why would you want to do that to yourself?

Here’s what I have discovered: Most of the time, the way a person acts toward me has little to do with me. It has more to do with how this person was raised, how he/she deals with emotional issues, or other variables like his/her mood, energy level, or health. This is important for me to keep in mind on those occasions when I find myself taking the blame for things that are beyond my control.

Below are some of the things I have learned to do that help me to stop taking others’ comments and behavior so personally. I hope some of these ideas can help you as well!

1. For the most part, I have removed toxic people from my life. These are people who treat me rudely or who dump all their problems on me without reciprocating in a supportive way. I try to surround myself with positive people as much as possible. I definitely feel more confidence in myself when I’m hanging out with people who treat me with respect.

2. I always keep a list of my strengths and abilities to remember what my strong points are. The list is on my refrigerator door so I can review it daily.

3. I also have a list of goals alongside my list of strengths. Having things to work towards gives me a sense of self-worth and purpose. This includes things I would like to improve on or advance in. I take each goal and break it into smaller steps (called objectives) so the goals don’t seem so insurmountable.

4. I constantly remind myself that I don't need anyone's approval. Just because someone isn't happy with me doesn't mean I have done something wrong. In many cases, it means that person isn't happy with themselves and expects me to fill their unmet needs in some way.

5. I find I become more susceptible to someone’s opinion if I am feeling doubtful and placing too much of my own self-worth on his/her opinion. When I am confident in my abilities, another person’s rude behavior or negative opinion is less likely to affect me. Feeling proud and confident in my skills is more important than the passing opinions of others.

6. When I was younger, I had terrible personal hygiene habits (e.g., didn’t comb my hair, brush my teeth, shower, etc.). But over time, I learned that this lack of personal care was a big contributing factor to my low self-esteem. Now I try to take care of your physical self with grooming and dressing to look my best. I keep my clothes clean and wear clothes that fit properly. I have tossed out old clothing that doesn’t fit, is tattered, faded, etc. And I try to keep a good posture. All of these things improve my mood.

7. In order to stop taking things so personally, I try to consider the situational factors as well as the other person’s motivations and background. Improving my self-confidence and communicating assertively are key to being able to handle other people’s comments.

If you tend to take others’ comments and behavior to personally, or take life too seriously in general, here are a few more tips I would like to share with you:
  • When you are about to feel offended, ask yourself, “Is what I just heard true at all?”
  • Think, “Maybe what I heard does not refer to me at all.”
  • Ask yourself, “Why am I allowing words and feelings to hurt me.”
  • Avoid thinking over and again about what upset you. Rather, think of things that make you feel happy.
  • When you take something too personally, go away alone for a walk or do some other form of exercise. This will boost your confidence, and the problem will look smaller.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly.
  • Wait a while before responding.

Lastly, here are a few quotes to think about:
  • We often add to our pain and suffering by being overly sensitive, over-reacting to minor things and sometimes taking things too personally. ~ Dalai Lama
  • To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. ~ Lewis B. Smedes
  • I cannot always control what goes on outside. But I can always control what goes on inside. ~ Wayne Dyer
  • Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~ Buddha
  • Don’t Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. ~ Don Miguel Ruiz

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples