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What to Do When Your NT Partner Believes You’re a Grump: 4 Tips for Spouses with ASD

Did you ever notice that on the days you’re the grumpiest, your NT partner is the most difficult? And did you ever notice that on the days you’re feeling optimistic, he or she is fairly loving and cooperative? Sure, you have! It’s called “The Mirroring Rule.” In other words, the attitude you put out there is similar to the attitude you get back. 

If you are a true “grump,” then you probably have a hard time seeing yourself for who you really are. You may find it a lot easier to blame your partner for his or her discontent than look in the mirror. And without a precise self-perception, you may never see the need to change, which will eventually doom you to a lot less peace and joy than you could have in the relationship.

Obviously, I don’t know your exact situation, but I do know this: If you have Asperger’s, you’re probably grumpy and sarcastic at least once in a while. And if you want The Mirroring Rule to work for you rather than against you, you can’t afford to be a grump.

Here are a few ideas on how to “fix” this problem...

1. Ask yourself these questions:
  • If your partner acted just like you, would there be more kindness, empathy, peace and harmony in the relationship? Would there be a more positive spirit in the home?  Would he or she be better off?  If so, awesome!  If not, you have some negative traits you need to address.
  • If your partner treated you the same way you treated him or her (at your worst and at your best), would you have a stronger relationship?  If your answer is no, it’s time for a change. 
  • Do you honestly believe there’s no room for improvement in your behavior - and that you’re perfect just the way you are? If so, you lack insight into your own attitude, which is going to be a huge problem (and probably already is).

2. Don't lie to yourself:

If you’re a grump, say so.  You’ll can’t change what you refuse to recognize. Accept the fact that your grumpiness not only damages your relationship, it also gets in the way of almost everything you really desire in life. Obviously, it’s not always easy to see yourself as clearly as you should, but you can do some self-reflection, and you can ask your partner to point out those episodes where you get the label “grumpy.”

Recruit your man or woman as “a partner in problem-solving.” Tell him or her that you’re working on being more cheerful.  Tell your partner you’d appreciate his or her feedback. Ask him/her what you should start doing, stop doing, and continue doing to be more successful. Do this every few weeks, and you’ll be surprised at how fast you move ahead. 

3. Discover what your triggers are that move you toward negativity, for example:
  • Screaming children
  • Your partner talking while you’re trying to work or watch a movie
  • Not getting credit for the things you do that benefit the relationship
  • Being blamed for something you didn't do
  • Your partner’s “bad driving” habits

Then, when these triggers occur, it’s time for you to step back, collect yourself, take a deep breath, and bite your tongue.

4. Avoid negative people as much as possible:

Surround yourself with positive family members, friends, and colleagues. All of us are very susceptible individuals, and we tend to absorb the qualities of others to a large extent. Thus, find people who have positive attitudes and visibly cheerful behaviors.  You’ll become more like them and less like the grump you are accused of being.

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