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Wife of a Man with Asperger's Provides Some Pointers


"One of the things I have learned while married to my husband with Aspergers syndrome is that I have to allow for processing time. Robert needs longer processing time, particularly for verbal instruction. He can't instantly react to my requests.

For example, a few months ago, I came home from work and told Robert that I decided I'm taking him out for dinner. And he said, "No!" His response confused me and also kind of hurt my feelings because I was making a kind gesture. But in his mind, although he hadn't already cooked dinner (and he is the cook at our house), he had already decided what we would be doing for dinner, and to quickly change his internal plans was difficult for him to do. Situations similar to this one had occurred quite frequently.



I realized now that instead of throwing a last-minute change on my husband, I need to give him a heads-up. So, a better method for me has been to call him earlier in the day while I am at work, and ask him what he thinks about us going out to eat dinner that evening. Robert needs to adjust to the idea, and by the time I get home, he has warmed-up to it.

Time to adjust has proven to be even more critical when a serious decision has to be made (e.g., issues related to our children and financial considerations). My method now is to approach my husband, suggest my idea, and then leave it alone and wait for him to respond. Sometimes that may be days later, which in most cases is not a problem because it allows us to carefully consider the implications.

Over time, we have learned to trust that we will not be pressured into making a decision that we are not comfortable with. Taking a little extra time helps to ease tensions that used to result in heated arguments.

The other important thing I have discovered during my marriage is I need to avoid assuming Robert automatically knows my needs. For example, a while back I came home with two arms full of groceries and struggled to get in the front door. Robert could see me struggling but didn't get out of his chair to offer to help me. As I returned to the car for another armload, I became very frustrated. Robert continued to ignore what I considered to be obvious struggling. At my wits end, I screamed at him and asked why he didn't help. He reacted with shock and hurt and yelled back, "I didn't know you wanted my help!" (Then my thought: "WTF!")

I have since learned that people with Aspergers do not read body language that is obvious to people without the disorder. Robert didn't come to my aid because he couldn't read my body language that exuded frustration while struggling to carry groceries through the door.

Now when I need his help, I approach things differently. I often say, "Can you help me sweetheart?" This simple request has helped save a lot of frustration and tension in our relationship. I used to think that if he doesn't know, I shouldn't have to ask. That's not going to work in this kind of situation where one person cannot pick up on another person's needs without words. Over time, my husband and I have established a routine of clearly outlined expectations. I don't put him in a situation where he has to guess what I need in the moment.

In a nutshell, now that I give my husband some time to process things, and give him specific instructions on what I need him to do, things have gone much more smoothly. I wanted to share these revelations in the hope that other neurotypical wives may benefit from just two simple adjustments that can make such a huge difference."

==>  Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

7 comments:

  1. Wow… this scenario is sooo familiar.

    We're an Aspie husband/NT wife couple who spent the first 35 years of our marriage without realising what we were dealing with (and not very well).

    Then came the diagnosis — for me and our five adult children and most of our grandchildren — and a whole new relationship.

    Next month is the 50th anniversary of our wedding in 1968.

    Thanks for this insight. :D

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    Replies
    1. How is it that your Asp diagnosis was not found until you were in your 50s

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    2. Autism wasn't on the DSM until 1980, Aspergers was added later (and has now been rolled into autism spectrum disorder in the latest edition). Since diagnosis traditionally focuses on childhood development, adults are overlooked unless they are looking into other health issues.

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  2. How is it possible for your diagnosis not to be picked up for so long. Do you have the mildest form of Asperger's?

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  3. I have just been diagnosed at 44, always felt so different and struggled.
    Now I just except I am wired slightly differently and no longer try to have friends etc because that's what everyone expects which I hate!
    Helped with wife and kids who know understand me better and realize that my routines are important to me and to give me a little time and space.
    Just wish I had found out many years ago as I feel so much better and can move on in life.


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  4. I realise my 53 year old husband has AS . It's so difficult, hard to cope and feel so alone

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  5. Asperger's Syndrome was not officially recognised until the DSM-4 was released in 1994. So it was really easy NOT to be diagnosed until I was 57 yo. And yes, I'm mildly affected — although I have a few aspects that are more pronounced.

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