Are you an adult with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's? Are you in a relationship with someone on the autism spectrum? Are you struggling emotionally, socially, spiritually or otherwise? Then you've come to the right place. We are here to help you in any way we can. Kick off your shoes and stay awhile...

Search This Blog

Showing posts sorted by date for query angry. Sort by relevance Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by date for query angry. Sort by relevance Show all posts

“Fair Fighting” in the Neuro-diverse Marriage

 


Disagreements and arguments are a normal part of any relationship. It’s HOW a couple argues. A bad argument can turn a little problem into a big one, and a disagreement that seems silly and unimportant can become emotionally charged and painful. This is where fair fighting rules come in.

These rules don't tell us NOT to argue; instead, they teach us “how to argue safely” without damaging our relationships. They tell us what's okay, and what's crossing the line in an argument today.

Points to consider:

1.    Always take turns speaking. This one is a lot more challenging than it sounds. When you're in a serious discussion - and you really want to be heard - it can be tempting to sit there and think about what you want to say rather than listening. This usually leads to one person dominating the conversation. If you're having trouble following this rule, try setting a timer and allowing each person one minute to speak. When the speaker finishes, the listener should briefly summarize what was just said BEFORE taking his or her own minute. Keep taking turns in this way until it's no longer necessary.

2.    Ask yourself why you feel upset. Are you actually angry that your partner left ketchup out on the counter, or is it really something bigger? If you bring up the ketchup when the problem is really about housework, you're both going to be disappointed with the outcome, and your partner is going to wonder why you're so upset about something so small as ketchup. What is “the real issue” in question?

3.    Degrading language is never okay. That means no put downs, no swearing at the other person, no name-calling. By using degrading language, you're telling your partner that he or she - as a person - is not okay.

4.    Express your feelings using words - and take responsibility for your feelings. If you aren't sure how to express yourself, try using this sentence: “I feel _____ when _____.” The first blank should be an emotion word (e.g., frustrated, hurt). The second blank should be a specific situation or problem. So, for example, “I felt worried when you didn't return my phone call.” By expressing your emotions verbally, your partner is more likely to empathize with you and to understand your point of view. If your ASD partner has alexithymia (i.e., emotions blindness), then simply speak in terms of what you NEED rather than how you FEEL (e.g., “I need you to return my calls so I don’t have to wonder whether or not you’re O.K.”).

5.    If you're finding that any of the rules are being broken, or that things are just getting too heated, take a timeout. Spend 15 to 30 minutes apart doing something relaxing to calm down and collect your thoughts. Then, when the time is up, come right back to the discussion. Anyone can call a timeout at any time. Just be careful that timeouts aren't being used as a form of stonewalling or a shutdown. Their goal is to take 15 to 30 minutes just so things can calm down a bit. Then come right back to the conversation.

6.    No stonewalling. This is when someone refuses to engage in the discussion. Usually, someone will do this when they feel anxious about a conversation, and they'd rather avoid it. This isn't usually intended to hurt the other person – it's more like a defense mechanism. However, when someone stonewalls, the problem goes unresolved.

7.    No yelling! You might feel that you need to yell until your partner gives in, but no one's better off for it. The problem goes unresolved, and now everyone's unhappy. Yelling usually doesn't come from nowhere. Try to catch yourself while your voice is starting to rise, rather than waiting until you're shouting.

8.    Some couples have the tendency of unpacking their whole history during arguments. By the end, they're asking themselves, “Why are we even talking about this? How did we get here?” By discussing too many issues at once, the original problem gets buried - and nothing gets solved. This doesn't mean that multiple issues can't be important. But we can only focus our full attention on one thing at a time.

9.    Try to reach a compromise. There isn't always going to be a perfect resolution to every problem. It’s up to you to know what you're willing to compromise on - and what you're not. Just know, if you're not willing to compromise on anything, a lot of your problems are going to go unresolved.

Your arguments will become less painful and more manageable if you follow the tips above.


Resources: 

 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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

How to Avoid Meltdowns and Shutdowns in Conversations with Your NT Spouse


Your NT spouse has always wanted “intimacy,” and she got it from you in the early part of the relationship. What you needed more than anything was to be “appreciated” in the early going of the relationship. She appreciated you - and she showed it.

Neither one of you had the thought of this intimacy and appreciation business, but that's what was going on. She got her intimacy in the early days when you first got together. You got your appreciation.

What happens most often in the early going of the relationship: The NT spouse IS his special interest, but after the newness of the relationship wears off, he often reverts back to his original special interest. And she notices that he is slowly detaching [but this occurs at an unconscious level for both parties, initially].

He's not purposely trying to do this, but he's disengaging from the intimacy that was established in the beginning; he separates somewhat, and she notices that - and she starts becoming the “pursuer.” But, the more she pursues, the more he distances himself, because her effort to get him to reconnect [even though her intentions are pure] downloads in his mind as criticism [e.g., I’m not good enough. I’m not measuring up. I’m not meeting her expectations.].

 ==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

The more that she pushes to get him back into the relationship, the more that causes anxiety for him, and he continues to distance and distance - and she continues to pursue and pursue. Finally, she gets tired of pursuing - and may become resentful for “wasting” so many years.

So, she's no longer getting her intimacy needs met, and you certainly are not getting your appreciation needs met. But the marriage difficulties affect her more profoundly, because one of her main passions is social and emotional things. So, when you disconnected, she lost one of her main interests. You didn't lose much though! You still have your main interest, whether that's a hobby, your work, or whatever.

When this disengagement occurred, she lost more than you did, and so that's why she is the one that's more distraught - and therefore the one that's more resentful …the one that's angrier and more verbal about the “disconnect” than you. You were more connected with her back in the day, but that has disappeared.

She might say something like, “When we first started dating, things were pretty good. He was sweet and nice and affectionate, but he changed. He changed, and it's not like it used to be anymore.”  In a nutshell, she needs you to give her more of a sense that she's getting some of her intimacy needs met - and in return, you will get more of your appreciation needs met. There are many ways to get intimacy needs met, and one of the main ways is through effective communication.

When she has broached some difficult topics, what typically happens? Your anxiety comes up, of course, because now she's talking about a heavy topic, and you may tend to either meltdown or shutdown, or just stand there and act as if you’re listening and agree with her [e.g., “Yeah, sure, okay, I’ll do it. Whatever you say.”] – just to hurry up and get the conversation over with.

The ASD man’s typical reaction [when his NT wife is trying to talk about some heavy topics about relationship problems] is to either do some version of a shutdown or some version of a meltdown. This is what we want to get rid of guys! We want to stop the propensity to react with meltdowns and shutdowns [i.e., a response that has been either aggressive or passive]. We want to avoid those two ends of the extreme, and what would be in the middle is “assertiveness.”

Passivity could be: “I’m afraid that I’m going to say or do something wrong. So, I try to say and do as little as possible - anything to keep the peace” [an example of when he just avoids the conversations entirely]. Aggressiveness could be: “She has made me very anxious when she talks about these relationship problems, and my anxiety sometimes expresses itself as anger and rage.” So, we're trying to avoid those two extremes and come into the middle, which is assertiveness. 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

She wants you to be more empathic, but empathy is going to be incompatible with passivity or aggressiveness. You can't be empathic and passive. At the same time, you can't be empathic and aggressive. So, we must learn assertiveness before we can practice empathy, and what we're ultimately trying to achieve here is the business of getting some of her intimacies needs met.

One version of assertiveness would be to face the music when she wants to talk about heavy topics - and to sit there and practice dealing with uncomfortable emotions in the moment. For example: As she is talking, I'm going to look in her direction. I’m going to nod while she's talking. I’m not defending myself, and I’m not leaving. I’m staying right there and facing the issue in question.

Her message may not necessarily be the way that I see things, but I’m not here to defend my perspective or to offer my opinion. I’m here to listen to her opinion. So, the goal here guys is listen to understand rather than listen to “mount a defense” - and that sounds like a tall order, and some of you guys will be thinking, “I don't know how the hell I’m going to tolerate that.”

I know it's going to feel very uncomfortable at first, and your anxiety is going to come up, especially if she's complaining - yet again - about what you're doing wrong …or what you're not doing right …or things that you're saying that are upsetting …or things that you're not saying that you're supposed to be saying, etc.

I’m sure you've been in the “dog house” so much that you've taken up residence in there, because it's safer to be in in the doghouse than to face the music and have her talking to you about difficult problems. So, let me remind us of what we're doing here. My goal is to help you reduce your relationship stress, and one of the ways that I can approach that goal is to help you guys avoid taking either the passive reaction or the aggressive reaction to her difficult conversations.

How do we do that? We get to assertiveness rather than being passive or aggressive. What does that look like? We stay right there when she's talking, rather than talking over her or getting angry with her - or leaving. You say, “I’m here to understand your point of view, rather than listen to defend myself.”

So in this scenario, there's no defense …you're not going to feed your pride or ego. If you make the mistake of trying to squeeze-in your defense or try to prove her wrong – you've just SCREWED yourself out of a golden opportunity to give her some display of empathy.

In this instance, it's active listening, which will directly give her the impression that she's finally getting some understanding from you. That’s the whole goal here. When she's wanting to talk to me, I’m not going to leave …I’m not going to get mad. Instead, I’m going to listen, and I’m going to paraphrase what I heard, and I’m going to validate that she just spoke “her truth” to me. That is a form of assertiveness!


More resources:

 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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

The Easily-Annoyed Partner with Autism Spectrum Disorder

“Are people with ASD just naturally negative, irritable and easily annoyed, or is it just my dumb luck to be stuck with a husband [ASD level 1] who is rarely happy about anything - other than leaving us in the morning to go to his work.”

People with ASD are often easily annoyed by others. They are quickly overwhelmed by minimal change and highly sensitive to environmental stimuli. They like most things to stay the same – even their partner’s mood and behavior (which is obviously an unreasonable expectation)). They are anxious and tend to worry obsessively when they do not know what to expect. Stress, fatigue and sensory-overload can throw them off balance. As a result, they may seem to be upset about many things.

In addition, it’s not uncommon for the ASD individual to get along fairly well at work, yet be irritable at home. However, just because the irritability occurs at home does not necessarily mean the “cause” of the behavior lies there. Many people with ASD find work very stressful, but they tend to keep their emotions bottled-up until they get home.

When your ASD husband is acting-out due to being annoyed by something you said or did [or with the kids], what is your initial response? Do you become anxious and give-in to avoid conflict? Do you say nothing and hope that it will pass? Do you get angry yourself and start being confrontational? Your reaction to his frustration is a critical component here.

Sometimes, an ASD individual’s frustration is caused by very real and inescapable problems in his life. Not all frustration is misplaced – and sometimes it is a healthy, natural response to these difficulties. There is a cultural belief that every problem has a solution, and it may add to your frustration to find out that this is not always the case.

The best attitude to bring to such a situation, then, is NOT to focus on finding the solution, but rather on how the frustrated individual “handles” the problem. Maybe you would be willing to help your husband to make a plan for those occasions when he is annoyed and irritated, and help him check his progress along the way.

If he can approach his problems with his best intentions, and make a serious attempt to face it head-on, he will be less likely to lose patience and fall into “all-or-nothing thinking” - even if the problem does not get solved right away.

 

More resources:

 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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

Lying or Fantasizing in Your ASD Spouse - Which Is It?

 

"Mark, I've watched many of your videos but haven't seen one that addresses the lying. My husband verbally manufactures whatever he thinks makes him look good in any given situation. But I'm aware 50% of it, didn't actually happen. It's compensation and excuse and falsehoods to make himself look like he took action - when it's obvious he didn't."

People with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) often confuse their spouse/partner by the quantity/quality of their dishonesty and by the fact that the usual chastisement for “getting caught” dooen't change the behavior. It will be helpful for NT partners to think less in terms of “dishonesty” and more in terms of "fantasizing" (i.e., the ASD guy will say what he wants to be true, rather than what is really true).


Fantasizing that “looks like” lying happens for several reasons. Here are just a few:

1. The “partner-pleaser” factor: The HFA or AS spouse knows that the truth may make his partner angry, and he wants to please her. If he has done something wrong (e.g., due to impulsivity, compulsive behavior, self-protective behavior, language processing problems, etc.), he may try to make it right by telling his partner what he thinks she wants to hear.

2. The “lack of awareness” factor: The ASD guy simply doesn't know what is true. If he behaves impulsively, he may not have an awareness of what he has done. Also, if he has problems with language processing, he may not understand what was asked or expected.

3. The “confusing reality with fiction” factor: The ASD partner can’t distinguish between wishful thinking and reality. What is objective to the NT spouse may be subjective to him. If one truth is as good as another, he may select the one that seems (in his mind) to best fit the situation.

4. The “inability to predict cause-and-effect” factor: The HFA or AS partner can't forecast the outcomes of his behavior. To use a ridiculous example:

He throws a rock and breaks a window. His blameworthiness in the act seems clear-cut to you. However, if he has trouble with the relationship between cause-and-effect, he may not be able to make the connection between throwing a rock and breaking a window. In his mind, intentionality is a factor. In other words, if he didn't intend to do it, he didn't do it!

5. The “it’s true for me” factor: HE is telling “HIS” truth. Due to his disorder, he often experiences the world very differently as compared to you, the NT. But that does not make his experience “false.” If he persistently, frantically clings to an assertion that you feel is false (e.g., the water is too hot, this chore is too hard, talking about the relationship problems is too difficult, etc.), you should ask yourself if it might be only false to you.

6. The “anxiety” factor: The ASD man is stressed. If the NT knows that her man can't think calmly and clearly when stress levels are high, then she shouldn’t be surprised if she sees a lot of senseless, immovable dishonesty in that situation.

7. The “it’s my way to contribute to the conversation” factor: The person on the spectrum may be simply trying to join in the discussion. If he has limited life experiences or a limited emotions-vocabulary, he may want to have something to say, but no real contribution to make. Coming up with a tale (however imaginary or fabricated) may seem to him like the only way to participate.

If the HFA or AS individual has genuine “special needs” that leads him to tell “wishful half-truths” rather than the real truth, NTs should think carefully before handing out lectures and scolding for “dishonesty.” Of course, the ASD husband needs to know that he should be honest at all times, but if the dishonesty is not deliberate, chastisement teaches NOTHING!

When you catch your ASD partner being “dishonest” (in your mind), you should ask yourself if he is doing so with malice and intent. If not, you should try putting more honesty in your man’s fantasizing. Tell him what you think happened instead of demanding an explanation. If he says, "I don't know," then take that as an honest answer. Stay as composed and rational as possible when getting to the truth of the situation. Respect his reality, and be open to negotiation. Also, tell more truth than fiction yourself.

NOTE: Having said all of this, I’m NOT saying that people with ASD “never lie under any circumstances.”

 

Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:

 ==> Cassandra Syndrome Recovery for NT Wives

==> Online Group Therapy for Men with ASD

==> Online Group Therapy for NT Wives

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples 

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

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



Crucial Interventions for Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


Here you will find important information (in alphabetical order) for those experiencing relationship problems associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder:

 

§  Anger to Meltdown to Guilt to Self-Punishment: An ...

§  Anger-Control Problems in Adults on the Autism Spe...

§  Asperger’s Adults and Blue Mood

§  Asperger’s Adults and Problems with Social Imagina...

§  AS and Attention Deficit Disorder

§  Asperger's and Problems with Prediction

§  Asperger's and That Damn Anxiety Problem

§  Boyfriend Doesn't Like To Be Touched?

§  Boyfriend Has a Computer Addiction?

§  Challenges Facing Wives Who Are Married to Asperge...

§  Conversation Starters: Advice from a Guy with Aspe...

§  Denying the Diagnosis of Asperger's

§  Discouraged "Neurotypical" Wife Speaks Out

§  Does My New "Friend" Have Asperger’s?

§  Does Your Man Have Asperger’s?

§  Drug/Alcohol Abuse and Asperger Syndrome

§   Feeling "Out of Place" in the World

§  Feeling Like a “Bad” Partner or Spouse in a Relati...

§  Having a Positive Attitude with Asperger's

§  Help for Adults with Asperger's (high-functioning ...

§  How Aspie Husbands Can Avoid Arguments With NT Wives

§  How I Live with Asperger’s: Tips from a 52-Year-Ol...

§  How to Avoid Meltdowns: Calming Strategies for Adu...

§  How to Deal with Me: An Aspergers Man’s Note to Hi...

§  How to Improve Relationships with Women: Help for ...

§  How to Make it Through the Holiday Season: Tips fo...

§  How to Stay Out of the Doghouse with Your Neurotyp...

§  Inflexibility

§  Is it Sadness or Full-Blown Depression: Tips for A...

§  Is Your Asperger’s Partner a Jerk – or is it a Def...

§  It’s Asperger’s! Should You Share the News?

§  Lack of "Displays of Affection" in Adults with Asp...

§  Making Sense of “Odd” Asperger’s Behavior

§  Medications That Help with Asperger’s Symptoms

§  Men Who Won't "Work" On Their Relations...

§  Men with Asperger's: Summary of Traits that Affect...

§  Men With Asperger's: What Potential Partners Need ...

§  Message to Aspies: Are you afraid to take an hones...

§   Poor Time-Management Skills

§  Positive Traits of Asperger’s Men as Reported by T...

§  Problems with Empathy

§  Relationship Difficulties Due to Deficits in "Theo...

§  Resentment in the Neurotypical Wife

§  Rituals and Obsessions in Adults with Aspergers an...

§  Rules of Effective Listening: Tips for Men on the ...

§  Ruminations in People with Asperger's and High-Fun...

§  Self-Management of Angry Outbursts for Men with As...

§  Should You Disclose Your Diagnosis to Others?

§  Should You Try to Act "Normal?" – Tips for People ...

§  Shutdowns in Spouses/Partners with Asperger’s

§  Signs That Your Neurotypical Wife Is Becoming Bitt...

§  Social Skills 101: Tips for Aspies

§  Suicidal Thinking in People with Asperger's and Hi...

§  Taking Things Too Personally: Tips for Adults on t...

§  Telling Others That You Have Asperger's

§  The 3 Anger Styles of Adults with Asperger’s and HFA

§  The 3 Types of Aspies

§  The Angry Aspie: Tips for Adults on the Autism Spe...

§  The Bullying of People with Asperger’s: Long-Term ...

§  The Easily Frustrated Aspie

§  The Fear of Being Diagnosed with an Autism Spectru...

§  The Hidden Curriculum: Tips for Dummies

§  The Risks Associated with an “Asperger’s” Label

§  Tics in Adults with Asperger Syndrome

§  Tips for Discouraged Neurotypical Spouses: Are You...

§  Traits That Contribute to Relationship ...

§  Traits That Get Misinterpreted As "Inap...

§  Understanding the Mind of Your Asperger’s Mate

§  Understanding the Mind of Your Partner with Asperg...

§  Understanding Your Asperger's Boyfriend: 12 Tips f...

§  What I Do to Cope with Asperger's: My Personal Story

§  What I’ve Learned About Me: Self-Confessions of an...

§  What To Do After a Big Fight With Your Neurotypica...

§  What To Do When Your "Aspie" Man Fails To Empathize

§  What To Do When Your "Neurotypical" Wife Resents You

§  When Your Asperger's Man is a Reluctant Talker: Ti...

§  Why “Neurotypical” Wives Are Unhappy in Their Marr...

§  Why Adults with Asperger’s Are Prone to "Meltdowns"

§  Why Adults with Asperger's May Seem Inflexible

§  Why Do Some Adults with Asperger’s Get Labeled as ...

§  Why I Am Glad I Got Diagnosed

§  Why Some Asperger's Men Fall Out of Love - Seeming...

§  Why the NT Partner's Attempts to Fix the Relations...

§  Why Your Asperger's Husband or Partner Refuses to ...

§  Wife's Account of the Ups and Downs of an Asperger...

§  Women in Relationships with Asperger's Men -- Our ...

Popular Posts

Chat for Adults with HFA and Aspergers