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Why Your Spouse with ASD is Afraid of You

Your spouse on the autism spectrum may be afraid to discuss relationship difficulties with you. Why?

As you know, high-functioning autism is a “developmental” disorder, which means that developmentally, your spouse on the spectrum has a social-emotional brain that is under-developed. In other words, he is low in the social and emotional intelligence. This also means that his social and emotional needs are significantly lower than his NT wife’s needs.

So, when she wants to discuss relationship issues with her ASD spouse, she is, of course, going to be using her highly developed social and emotional intelligence as she tries to make her points.

However, the ASD husband is listening with a highly logical brain that is also low in social and emotional competency. Therefore, he is not “tracking” her important message. It’s like she is very fluent in German, but he just speaks a tiny bit of German. So, as she is talking, he’s only understanding and retaining about 10% of the total information – and he knows it!

The typical partner on the autism spectrum knows that he is not fully understanding what his NT wife is thinking and feeling – and this makes him feel stupid. The NT wife eventually realizes that her husband does not “get it.” She feels as though she has wasted her time and energy in trying to make him understand what she needs. So, she understandably complains that he doesn’t “get it” - and may even accuse him of “not caring” and/or “not listening.”

This complaint downloads in the autistic brain as criticism, disrespect and ridicule. This is why the man with ASD hates having difficult conversations with his wife. Now he feels stupid AND chastised. He thinks, “I don’t understand what she is saying or feeling, which makes me feel dumb, and then I get in trouble for being dumb.”

So, you can see why difficult conversations about relationship problems would be something he dreads. And when she says something along the lines of “WE NEED TO TALK” - his anxiety instantly increases as he forecasts yet another bad outcome [i.e., a heated argument that yields no solution].
 
Many men on the autism spectrum have reported that they are afraid of their NT wife. They know that when there has to be a discussion on relationship problems, they are not going to grasp her perspective very well, and they also know they’re going to be in trouble for not being able to grasp it.

Thus, most often, the ASD man will try to avoid these difficult conversations - and if that’s not possible, he will hurry up and agree to whatever she says purely to get the conversation over with as soon as possible, which instantly reduces his fear and associated anxiety.

More resources:

 

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's 

 
==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples [eBook and Audio]

 

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