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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."

Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:

==> Online Group Therapy for Men with ASD

==> Online Group Therapy for NT Wives

==> Living with ASD: eBook and Audio Instruction for Neurodiverse Couples 

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by ASD

==> Online Group Therapy for Couples Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder

==> Cassandra Syndrome Recovery for NT Wives

==> ASD Men's MasterClass: Social-Skills Training and Emotional-Literacy Development

Best Comments:

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

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

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.

We went to many marriage counselors in the 80s. None of them could figure him out. Finally at age 60 he agreed to be diagnosed,(he's on severe side) he stormed out of room. Won't admit or talk about it. Five years later,42 yrs marriage,it helps me understand him. He seems to be getting worse with age.But I am unbearably lonely.😢

I'm 55 now and was only diagnosed 3 years ago. When my wife met my Uncle about 21 years ago she commented that he must be on the spectrum. My wife had been working as an early intervention therapist. It was only 18 years later that she suspected that I could be as well.

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

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.

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

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.

Common to not be diagnosed until adulthood. I know one man who was a senior. I was 30.

I am also married (2nd time) with an aspie. My 1st marriage, my husband was NT( as myself) and adjusting to an aspie husband is still a work in progress. I lived thru the same things the article mentions but i learned something else. Surprises when it comes to birthdays or trips do not sit well either. I loved to give surprised trip for a bday but with my husband and not child, i have to let them know that i am planning something for them. Yes, the surprise effect is gone but they both need to adapt to the new adventure. everyday is a work in progress adapting to them :)

Can anyone here relate to the husband with asperger not being ok making love even though we are married and had an active love life before marriage? We stopped being active till marriage for a year and a half so honey moon night came and NOTHIN! And maybe 7x since then and we're going on 5 years together/4 married!

That seems to ber very normal with Aspergers sadly. I’ve been married for 15 years, together for 19 and it’s been one a year and I doubt it will ever happen again. It was great until we moved in together.

Yep.still can't work out why it was different then.

The groceries! Every week! Thanks for the reminder. I forget to ask and I’m really bad about not asking for what I need. I have learned to ask for a “minute” when I’m sad/lonely and that is his cue that I need a hug.

1 comment:

  1. I find the 'how come you didn't get diagnosed earlier?' comments ignorant and annoying. I was diagnosed at 50, and I am quite far along the spectrum. The diagnosis is such a relief for most of us who feel wrong and lacking because we cannot socialise or manage relationships as well as NT's. Challenging us on our diagnosis, however subtly is inconsiderate, and I shouldn't have to explain my medical history to a complete stranger. Have some respect please.


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