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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 to take responsibility for things and feelings of being burdened with more than her fair share of tasks (e.g., chores, child-care, bills, etc.), more feelings of exhaustion and tension are manifest.
  • 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

14 comments:

  1. I need someone to talk to about this. I can't be the only one that needs someone else to talk to about the struggles that come with loving someone with aspergers. If you feel the same way please email me

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    1. I will chat! I feel like this article was written for m specifically.

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    2. Hi Ladies, I too feel the same way. I am trying so hard. Married 12 years and Adpie husband is just recently accepting. I still feel "trapped".

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  3. 22 years in and I have reached, what feels like, my limit. I'm not sure how much I am expected to deal with. I see him trying but then he easily slips back into Old patterns. I always look like the bad guy and the bitch. I hate that I can't be my best self with him. Struggling is putting it mildly. So much Despair and hopelessness that some days I just want to take my son and run away. But I don't. I Stay through the betrayals and the lies knowing that all of this comes from his very wounded place on top of having Asperger's. Self-care is my new motto. I have requested designated days that are mine to do whatever fills my cup. We have very different interests yes. He is completely absorbed with his work. I'm as social being so I have to meet my social needs on my own. Still working it out. I haven't left because I know that I have growing to do myself. The relationship definitely can be a place of growth for me. Plus I love him very much. Really is a mixed bag LOL

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  4. I vote for starting an online support group! Who's with me???

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    1. Yes! I will join! I can't afford to pay for the therapy needed (for spouse, myself and my kids) so I am left feeling almost hopeless and stuck. Support from others like myself are all I have at the moment.

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  5. ok so what are these different behaviours we can learn to heal our broken life!? 17 years in and I've lost all hope! and to double the devastation our 11 yr old son is also high functioning autistic and has challenging behaviour and pathological demand avoidance! if I can't fix my relationship with his dad! my husband! what chance has my son got in his life!?? he needs to see there is a way to be in a relationship and work together and be a life long couple with someone you love and have a loving relationship between the two of you that works for the both of you!

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  6. There are a few groups on FB for NT (neurotypical) wives of Aspergers partners or husbands. I've found them to be a HUGE help.

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    1. Could you please be more specific with the names of the groups? I would be very interested in them. Thank you.

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  7. I hope that I don't get negative comments but I feel like I'm in prison and only 7 yrs into my life sentence. All hope and happiness is gone. I have 2 girls and am a stay at home mom. I'm so lonely! So much hurt, rejection, lies, abandonment, devalued, just hopeless! I'm tired and just want to run away and never come back. How am I gonna get through all this?! Thank you ladies for sharing!

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    1. Oh my gosh, are you me?? We are living strikingly similar lives. I am 11 years into the relationship; 8 of those years married. I have two daughters and am a stay at home mom as well. I understand what you are feeling and what you are experiencing. I have actually expressed how confining this life feels and have used imprisonment as an example for my spouse. He does not understand. It feels hopeless. I feel wasted away.

      I am just glad that I have run across others who can understand and help me not feel like I am crazy.. :( I am here if you or anyone else needs to vent or need someone to just understand and empathize. <3

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