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...

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Dealing with Your Aspergers Husband: Tips for Spouses

“I am married to a man with Aspergers. I must say this has been the biggest challenge in my entire life. Although I do love my husband dearly, I am finding myself slipping into feelings of resentment quite often. What advice would you have for a couple that is experiencing marital problems due to the fact that one partner’s brain is wired differently?”

Here are some facts about adults with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism that neurotypical (non-Aspergers) spouses need to understand:
  • A person with Aspergers has challenges understanding or predicting the consequences of his/her behavior on others.  Therefore, the Aspergers spouse may see the neurotypical spouse as irrational or illogical.
  • Aspergers adults, because they have a hard time separating boundaries at times, may hear criticism of a family member (e.g., father, mother, sibling) as a criticism of them, and they likely will not be willing to tolerate it.
  • Aspergers men in particular may find conflict almost intolerable.  They may hear a difference of opinion or an attempt to explain a different perspective about a situation as conflict or a criticism of who they are.
  • Neurotypical women especially tend to want their spouse to understand them and their feelings.  However, they need to realize that this is something they may not be able to get from their Aspergers spouse.  Some change may be possible, but the neurotypical spouse may need to adjust his/her expectation, and find other places for support without being unrealistic about what they expect from their Aspergers spouse.
  • The most basic elements of speaking and hearing are the most important issues that the Aspergers-Neurotypical couples may have.  Aspies often have a very difficult time hearing negative emotions expressed by their spouse.  They may refuse to communicate, but then end up lashing-out in a very hurtful way later on.


So what can Aspergers-Neurotypical partners do to maintain their relationship. Here are some important tips:
  1. Both spouses must make a serious commitment to making the relationship work. However, the neurotypical partner is going to have to understand that it will feel to them that they are the party making more accommodations.  Even if the Aspie accepts and understands their diagnosis, the truth is that your brains are wired differently.  As a neurotypical partner, you will need to shift from "what is wrong" about your spouse and the relationship, to "what is right."  You will need to build on the strengths, and value the differences, versus seeing your spouse as insensitive and uncaring. 
  1. Both spouses need to have an in-depth understanding of Aspergers and how marital relationships are affected. 
  1. Conflict is normal, even healthy. Differences between you mean that there are things you can learn from each other. Often conflict shows us where we can or need to grow. 
  1. Couples often derail a resolution when they try to acknowledge the other spouse's position, but then add a "but" in their next breath and reaffirm their position (e.g., “I can understand why you didn't pick up the dishes in the family room, but why do you think I'm the maid?”). 
  1. Defending yourself, whether by vehemently protesting your innocence or rightness or by turning the tables and attacking, escalates the fight. Instead of upping the ante, ask for more information, details, and examples. There is usually some basis for the other person’s complaint. When you meet a complaint with curiosity, you make room for understanding. 
  1. Develop the self-discipline to set limits on your anger and your behavior. If either of you resort to physical force and violence in your relationship, seek professional help. Acting out your anger in aggressive ways violates the other person’s boundaries and sense of safety. Each of us has a right to be safe and free of abuse or physical danger in our relationships. 
  1. Fighting ends when cooperation begins. Asking politely for suggestions or alternatives invites collaboration. Careful consideration of options shows respect. Offering alternatives of your own shows that you also are willing to try something new. 
  1. For both “neurotypicals” and “Aspies”: Become students of each other's culture. Pretend that you are learning a new language from a new country.  If you are an Aspie, remember that, in many ways, your spouse is from another planet, the neurotypical planet.  And if you are a neurotypical, remember that your Aspergers spouse is from the Aspergers planet.  Celebrate the diversity and the differences. 
  1. For the Aspergers partner, reconsider your perception of your spouse and of yourself.  Consider that, because of the differences in the way your brain works, a lot of what your spouse is telling you about your role in problems is probably right. 
  1. For the neurotypical partner, shift your focus from what you are not getting from your Aspergers spouse to see and value the strengths he or she brings to the relationship. 
  1. Forget that adage about always resolving anger before going to bed -- and let someone sleep on the couch. Going to bed angry is often the best choice. It allows spouses to clear their thoughts, get some sleep, and make a date to resume the fight (which might seem less important in the light of day). 
  1. Friendly fighting sticks with the issue. Neither party resorts to name calling or character assassination. It’s enough to deal with the problem without adding the new problem of hurting each other’s feelings. 
  1. Global statements that include the words “always” and “never” almost always get you nowhere and never are true. When your spouse has complaints, ask to move from global comments of exasperation to specific examples so you can understand exactly what he/she is talking about. When you have complaints, do your best to give your spouse examples to work with. 
 
  1.  In the heat of an argument, threatening to leave the relationship is manipulative and hurtful. It creates anxiety about being abandoned and undermines your ability to resolve your issues. It quickly erodes your spouse’s confidence in your commitment to the relationship. Trust is not easily restored once it is broken in this way. It makes the problems in your relationship seem much bigger than they need to be. 
  1. It is best if the diagnosis of Aspergers is made and accepted by the Aspergers spouse. One of the best things that can happen is for the couple to seek help from a therapist or marriage coach who understands the unique differences between Aspies and neurotypicals.  If the therapist does not understand the unique differences, all that will happen is the couple going back and forth, arguing for their own view of the situation.  And the Aspie will have a hard time understanding his/her impact on the neurotypical. 
  1. It’s pointless to blame each other. Blaming your partner distracts you from solving the problem at hand. It invites your partner to be defensive, and it escalates the argument.  
  1. Putting your spouse down or criticizing your spouse’s character shows disrespect for his/her dignity. In sports there are many rules that prevent one player from intentionally injuring another. In marriage and relationships, similar rules must apply. When you intentionally injure your spouse, it’s like saying, “You are not safe with me. I will do whatever it takes to protect myself or to win.” 
  1. Small concessions can turn the situation around. If you give a little, it makes room for the other person to make concessions too. Small concessions lead to larger compromises. Compromise doesn’t have to mean that you’re meeting each other exactly 50-50. Sometimes it’s a 60-40 or even 80-20 agreement. This isn’t about score-keeping. It’s about finding a solution that is workable for both of you. 
  1. Stay in the present and resist the temptation to use the situation as an occasion to bring up other issues from the past. It’s discouraging to keep bringing up the past. You can’t change the past. You can only change today. You can look forward to a better future. Try to keep your focus on what can be done today to resolve the issue at hand and go forward from there. If you get off-topic, on to other issues, stop yourselves and agree to get back on track. You can always come back to other issues later.  
  1. Taking a 1-minute break can help a couple push the reset button on a fight. Stop, step out of the room, and reconnect when everyone's a little calmer. 

  1. The louder someone yells, the less likely they are to be heard. Even if your spouse yells, there’s no need to yell back. Taking the volume down makes it possible for people to start focusing on the issues instead of reacting to the noise
  1. There almost always are parts of a conflict that can be points of agreement. Finding common ground, even if it’s agreeing that there is a problem, is an important start to finding a common solution. 
  1. There are two things that derail intense fights: (1) admitting what you did to get your spouse ticked off, and (2) expressing empathy toward your spouse. This can be difficult, but typically is extremely successful. Letting down our defenses in the heat of battle seems counter-intuitive, but is actually very effective with couples. 
  1. There comes a point where discussing the matter doesn't help. So couples need to just hold each other when nothing else seems to be working. Reconnecting through touch is very important. 
  1. Use words that describe how you feel, and what you want and need, not what your spouse feels, wants, or believes. It may seem easier to analyze your spouse than to analyze yourself, but interpreting your spouse’s thoughts, feelings and motives will distract you from identifying your own underlying issues, and will likely invite defensiveness from your partner. More importantly, telling your partner what he/she thinks, believes or wants is controlling and presumptuous. It is saying that you know your partner’s inner world better than your partner does. Instead, work on identifying your own unmet needs, feelings, and ways of thinking and describe these needs and feelings to your partner. 
  1. When one speaks, the other should be really listening, not just planning their rebuttal. Take turns speaking and listening so that you both have a chance to say what you need. Have you ever tried to work through a difficult issue when your partner was talking over top of you and interrupting you? How did you feel? Consciously remind yourself about this when you feel an overwhelming urge to interrupt or speak your mind.
  1. When people feel strongly about something, it’s only fair to hear them out. Respectful listening means acknowledging their feelings, either verbally or through focused attention. It means never telling someone that he/she “shouldn’t” feel that way. It means saving your point of view until after you’ve let the other person know you understand that they feel intensely about the subject, even if you don’t quite get it.

 
==> Skype Counseling for Struggling Couples Affected by Asperger's and HFA

 
COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Great article.
•    Anonymous said... I know EXACTLY how you feel. This is my life in a nutshell. One thing that helps me is to write my thoughts and feelings down, then have him read them. This gives me time to calm down and think about how I want to say something. Also, you need to give logistical reasons for things, at least I do. "I need you to take out the trash because I'm cooking dinner." "It upsets me when you ignore me for video games because it makes me feel like you'd rather play games than be married to me. I'm asking for help because I can't do everything myself." "You cook, I clean. This is our agreement." "You can't be around chemicals, so you have to sweep, vacuum, and do the laundry." Getting emotional usually frustrates and/or shuts my husband down. Once I learned to take a step back, breathe, and think of a reasonable argument in a calm, low tone, things got SO much better. I'm a hot-tempered Texan, so it's not 100%. Ask him what he needs. That really changed my relationship. Also, try reading "Five Love Languages". There's a quiz you can both take that will tell you your love language, which was crazy eye-opening for me and my husband.
•    Anonymous said... Just try to hang in there.
•    Anonymous said... Read everything about it, have someone to talk to, have your OWN free time and try to be as rational as you can when you talk to him which you have to do when you know he is in the "listening mode". I'm married to adhd and asperger for 13 years Not easy but very possible!

*   Anonymous said... My husband says I am his dream girl and he wouldnt change a thing about me. Sure we didnt know I had as when we got married or for years but it sure helps to know and learn how to communicate better.
*   Anonymous said... I'll talk from your hubsnd's perspective, if you'll permit. Although a person with AS can tell they've angered or disappointed you, they rarely understand why. I'll assume that your husband has the normal high IQ common amongst folks with AS, and if so you can use that to your benefit to help him learn how to relate to you and "behave" in a more neuro-typical way. No one with AS wants conflict or strife, as it only serves to worsen the anxiety and depression that is so common in this disorder. Take the time to explain how his behavior made you feel, and most importantly tell him EXACTLY what you want him to do differently. Try to do so calmly, and at a time that both of you agree is appropriate to discuss the concern. Right when he gets home from work, or just before bed, would not be ideal.
•    Anonymous said…  "am finding myself slipping into feelings of resentment quite often" if you love him.. This comment wouldn't bother you or even spew out your mouth or even come as a thought in your head... that's what true love is.
•    Anonymous said… Everyone's wired differently and marriage is a journey, a struggle and hard work but also a fantastic experience. The key is two people who want to keep trying.
•    Anonymous said… Find a support group. It's easy for people to say "everyone is wired differently" but let's be honest - that puts the burden on the non-aspie partner to figure out how to deal because the aspie really cannot contribute to resolving the language barrier that happens in this situation. And there is a significant amount that is lost in translation leaving the non- aspire partner feeling not understood, not cared for and even unloved. My support group was the best thing that ever happened to me. Women who understand what it's like to be married to someone with Aspergers - no one else can even begin to understand the challenge. Many of the people at the adult Asperger's support groups I go to comment that their diagnosis made their marriages to their NT partner much happier. I think the linked article is pretty balanced. It points out that both people in the relationship need to work at understanding the other. The challenges are not because ONE partner "is wired differently", it's because TWO people have brains wired differently to each other. BOTH people in the relationship need to be willing to understand and adapt to each other's outlook.
•    Anonymous said… I completely understand the feelings. She is asking for advice. She didnt just up and leave. This is an example of true love. She is trying to understand and reach out for help. I agree with David Iverson.
•    Anonymous said… In my case my wife died before I got my diagnosis. We managed OK for 16 years but a lot of things fell into place in hindsight once I had the diagnosis. There were some arguments that I now understand were down to mutual misunderstanding from our brains being "wired differently" . Or times when we both felt a little unloved or uncared for because we didn't recognise the way the other was expressing their love. I can collate some of those things and ask the guys at the support group for their experiences to get something together.
•    Anonymous said… It also means being willings to understand what each person needs. That should be made very clear at the outset. This is not about right or wrong....just differences ....and what you can live with and what you can't.
•    Anonymous said… My partner has aspergers and honestly its not much of a relationship. Its a struggle & he doesn't care.


Post your comment below… 

12 Tips to Feel Empowered: Advice for People on the Autism Spectrum


Understanding, embracing, and celebrating different ways of thinking and doing can release the true power of the ASD mind. Many people on the autism spectrum are better equipped than NTs in the following areas:

  • Absorbing and retaining facts
  • Attention to detail
  • Concentration
  • Deep focus
  • Logical thinking ability
  • Memorizing and learning information quickly
  • Observational skills
  • Thinking and learning in a visual way
  • Thoroughness 
 

You have great things to offer, and with that, I offer you the following tips for empowerment:

1. Anything that you’re willing to do - that most people are not - gives you an enormous advantage in life. 

2. Before you are able to be good at something, you must first suck at it. 

3. Everything great involves sacrifice - and includes some sort of cost.

4. Everything sucks "some" of the time. A few things suck "all" of the time. That's the life experience for ALL people - not just you.

5. Get off your ass and discover what "feels" important to you.

6. Find a problem you care about - and start solving it. The feeling of "making a difference" is ultimately what’s most important for your own joy.

7. Find those one or two undertakings that are bigger than yourself - and bigger than those around you. It’s not about some huge accomplishment, but merely finding a PRODUCTIVE way to spend your limited time here on Earth.

8. Nothing is pleasurable or uplifting all of the time.

9. To achieve great things, you must go against the herd mentality. 

10. Welcome "feels of embarrassment." Feeling stupid is part of the path to achieving something important and meaningful. The more a major undertaking freaks you out, the more you should be doing it.

11. What determines your resiliency is how you ride out the inevitable rotten days.

12. Yes, you're "wired differently," but neurotypicals have their own wiring problems - make no mistake about it!



Happy Holidays, Mark Hutten, M.A.


Resources: 

 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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

Adults on the Autism Spectrum and Problems with Impulsivity

“My husband with ASD is very impulsive. It is one of the main areas we struggle with. Is this part of the disorder? He will jump into something rather than thinking things through, blurt out thoughts without tempering them, forget important events, get distracted when I’m trying to talk to him, and neglect to follow through with promises.”


ASD is often characterized by a lack of impulse control. People on the autism spectrum are sometimes  labeled unmanageable or aggressive because of their impulsivity (e.g., they may act on a whim, display behavior characterized by little - or no - forethought/reflection/consideration of the consequences).

Even though adults on the spectrum can be caring and sensitive, their good qualities are often overshadowed by their lack of impulse control (i.e., their ability to "self-regulate" is compromised).

The inability to self-regulate is often a contributing factor to relationship problems. For example:

  • the ASD partner will often focus on things that interest him, but not on you (the NT wife)
  • he may not follow through on what he agrees to do
  • he may often act like a child instead of an adult
  • you may nag him, and start to dislike the person you’ve become as a result
  • the two of you either fight or clam up 
  • you may be stressed about being stuck with the household tasks while he gets to have all the “down-time”
  • the ASD partner may feel that his NT spouse has become a “nagging monster”
  • he may view you (the NT) as a control freak, trying to manage all the details of his life
  • he may think that no matter how hard he tries, he can’t meet your expectations
  • he may think that the easiest way to deal with you is to leave you alone


==> Click here for more information on how the ASD brain is wired

To All the Neurotypical Wives Who Are About To Strangle Their Asperger's/High-Functioning Autistic Spouse


WATCH THESE BEFORE YOU TOTALLY LOOSE YOUR SANITY:

==> Relationships and Mindblindness in Men with Asperger's:
https://youtu.be/bXSwGBQxW8s

==> Why Your Asperger's Partner Seems Unable to Understand How You Feel (mindblindness and alexithymia): https://youtu.be/_-dNIdpJMX4

==> Why Your Asperger's Partner Is So Sensitive To Criticism: https://youtu.be/8LNPnhCmbSw

==> Why the NT Wife and the AS Husband Have Great Difficulty Reconciling Differences: https://youtu.be/7iwiAuCdveQ

==> Why Your Partner with Asperger's is So Logical and Unemotional: https://youtu.be/5AH1I9wdjl0

==> Why the Behavior of an Individual with Asperger's or High-Functioning Autism Can Appear "Childish": https://youtu.be/sRv0s0880H8

==> Why Your AS Partner Blames You For The Relationship Problems: https://youtu.be/xluTrgTll6U

==> Traits In Your Asperger's Partner That Are "Hard-Wired" and Unlikely To Change: https://youtu.be/QUMFzkegimg

==> Cassandra Syndrome and Relationships with Partners on the Autism Spectrum: https://youtu.be/MKMqaY38Z5U

Why Your Asperger's Partner Has Difficulty Meeting Your Emotional Needs: https://youtu.be/MC9XrjL89PY

A Wife's Letter to Her Husband with Asperger's

My T.D.,

I love you. You are unlike anybody I’ve ever met. I want to continue to be a part of your life, and I want you to continue to be a part of mine. I do not want our marriage to end. I want us to raise our children together and be a family. Most of all, I want us to love each other.

Just like the song that played at our wedding, “When I said I do, I meant that I will, ‘til the end of all time…”. But then day to day life played out and we had one disconnect after another. And as more major life events happened, we experienced more and more frustration with each other. I became annoyed when you did not do things for me that I assumed all good husbands do for their wives, like give control of decorating the house over to me, offer me massages, give me gifts on special occasions, or do anything romantic. But, I figured you’re a guy and guys don’t always know to do those things. So instead of expecting things or even dropping hints, I told you the things I liked and what I wanted you to do. Then I became angry and resentful when you did not do them. It seemed the more I asked of you, the less I got. Many times I could not believe how you just didn’t get it – did not understand at all what I wanted and needed, and did not recognize the sacrifices I made for you. I did not think so then, but now, I believe it is very likely you felt the same way towards me.

Then there were your quirks – your insisting things be done a certain way or placed in a certain location, your aversion to any new or different smell, your avoidance of social situations and loud noises. I never saw anyone use earplugs in church or wear sunglasses inside. I know you did not mean for it to be, but a lot of what you did came off as rude, especially where it concerned my family. And then, it started to affect me directly. It annoyed me that you put off redoing the nursery for a whole year after Nina was born. You had a meltdown when I put together the entertainment system while you were away and it was not set up the way you liked it, and another fit when Mom and Gayle rearranged our bedroom furniture. Then you gave me the silent treatment, only talking to me to give me instruction and criticism. It put me under so much stress that I could not function on a daily basis to take care of our children. I began to lose control of my emotions and my temper. I had tolerated the control and abuse for as long as I could, and I felt myself beginning to snap. I felt stifled, suffocated. I had to get out, away from you, to be able to breathe again.

And I did. I left and spent some time in Brackett with friends and family. I have an entire support group here and they have helped me take care of the kids and have given me encouragement, and most importantly, time to do things for me. As a result, I can think much more clearly now. And though I hated the situation I was in, I still love you. I have done a lot of thinking, praying, and reflecting. As I muddled through memories, both good and bad, I just could not understand how you could be so awesome, such an amazing, loving, enthusiastic person in one moment – like when you bought Mom a car, when you patiently helped Kristi prepare for the baby shower when I was pregnant with Nina, how you worked so hard on Sam’s car and drove her north for a camp she had to go to, when you changed my brother’s oil for him, when you went with my family to Nacogdoches for Christmas and did so much for my mom and siblings – but then you can at the same time make comments about where they park their cars, move things around, or even how they help clean up around the house. Those actions seemed so contradictory; I couldn’t understand how one person could act in two totally different ways. And I couldn’t understand how you could love me so much and say I was the answer to your prayers and yet constantly critique everything I do and show no interest in my interests. None of it made any sense to me.

So much more negative than positive was going on when I left that I thought you just didn’t love me anymore – you just were using me to get one your life goals, a bunch of kids. I felt I had no value to you as person. But I knew from earnest things you would say about our future plans together, like building our house, and things you wanted to do as a family, like travel the country, that you really did want to experience things with me and share a life together. So you couldn’t have meant to be callous and abusive – but then if you still really cared about me, why would you act that way? If you really still loved me, then what was the explanation for your behavior?

You don’t know why you behave the way you do. I realize that now. I know you are truly sorry for all the things you did to hurt me. And I know you honestly did not intend to. Usually you had no idea you were doing anything wrong, or that I had any other expectations for how you should act. At first I blamed you for not knowing what to do for me. I accused you on the phone of never paying attention, and of not caring. And I blamed your parents for not teaching you better social etiquette and how to treat women. But blaming people doesn’t solve anything, and it does not explain the contradictory behavior, nor the fact that so much of it was not intentional. I felt so confused trying to figure out what went wrong. I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong – you told me so all the time. And I knew you didn’t mean to do anything wrong – and it wasn’t really true that you didn’t pay attention. You always paid attention to certain details, like making sure I was drinking enough water. So what in the world was going on?

I knew this was bigger than me. And how I proceeded from that point was too important to base it only on what I wanted. At that point I believed I could never have what I really wanted anyway – a thriving family of successful individuals who support each other, where the mother and father stay together and the children grow up happy - so whatever I chose, to leave you for good, or to come back, I would be unhappy. I didn’t want to raise our daughters without you. I didn’t want to be alone. But I couldn’t thrive and be happy the way we were going. I knew that unhappiness was not in your plans either; you had wanted us to work, too. I just couldn’t understand you. So I turned the whole thing over to God.

I didn’t ask why. I just prayed that God’s will be done. I sat in mass with the twins (your mom had Nina) one Sunday morning and prayed that God would make His will known to me. I told Him I would be completely obedient in whatever He wanted me to do. During the Eucharist, I felt Him very clearly ask me “Are you sure about that?” I thought for a moment about how happy I had been since I left – the help with the kids, the support and encouragement I received from my friends and family, the prospects and freedom I had to pursue my interests in Brackett, and never having to deal with these issues again. But then I decided God knows better than I do. He knows me – and you – better than we do. He knows what would truly make me happy. So I said, “Yes, whatever you want me to do. I don’t want to make this call myself. I can’t screw this up.” His response came “Even if that means staying with T.D.?”  “Yes, even if you want me to stay. I will do WHATEVER you want me to.” And that was all. He left me with that thought.

After last weekend, I received an explanation for our situation. It was simple, and it fit so well.

You are different. I have always said I never knew anyone else like you. You are in a category all your own, one in a million. Well, now, it seems that actual figure is more like one in three hundred.

I discovered that there are other people who have your same set of traits: an intense passion and focus for one special interest, paired with an odd list of idiosyncrasies and seemingly rude tendencies. Good news for you, since you always said you wished there were more people who thought like you. There are. And they are affectionately known as “Aspies”, because they have something called Asperger’s Syndrome.

Asperger’s Syndrome is a very mild form of autism. It has a spectrum with varying degrees of severity. Those who are less affected by it are often just seen as weird or rude. They often go undiagnosed or are not diagnosed until much later in life, after their marriages, careers, and other interpersonal relationships have been through many hard times. Aspies have average or above average intelligence. Many have PhD’s. They are brilliant, passionate people with clear focus and unique insight into the world around them. They don’t play mind games, don’t lie, and don’t hold back what they think or feel. But they have trouble expressing their emotions and picking up on others’ emotions. Also, they like to feel in control of their environment, and as a result they have an aversion to change.

Things that others may not even notice drive them completely nuts. Most Aspies don’t have a clue and don’t care about what is popular or in style. So they often do not put much effort into their wardrobe, hair or makeup. Appearance is not as important to them, and while that can be a disadvantage in certain situations, the flip side is, they see past all that and do not judge people the way non-Aspies, or those who they call “neuro-typical”, do. Not all Aspies are autistic in the way most people think of autism. They do not all look and act like Rain Man. They just have trouble relating to other people. Sadly, for those Aspies who get married, 80% of them end up divorced.

T.D. I know you. I know a lot of things about you most people don’t. And as I have read and researched Asperger’s over the past week, it was as if everything I read about it was written about you. I believe you have Apserger’s.

From our very first interaction, I knew that you were different. You were in Brackett for the weekend and had come to the youth Bible study. I was a little surprised to see a college guy at a high school youth group, but then your brother was there, and I thought you were cute, even though you were a little overly competitive at bucket-ball. As luck would have it (or maybe you did it on purpose ), you were in my small group. I was a little annoyed that you were rustling through some papers and flipping through your bible while I was trying to facilitate group discussion. I thought you weren’t paying attention. But when I looked to see what you were doing, I was pleasantly surprised and greatly flattered to see that you were copying quotes and verses I had written in the back of my Bible. That got my attention. I thought “this guy is worth getting to know”.

We started dating, and I was attracted to your enthusiasm and your focus. You had a very clear idea of what you wanted in life – a good wife, a house full of kids, and the freedom to pursue your passion for renovating houses. You had this surety about you that was more than just confidence in yourself - it was this faith that things would work out in your favor, even if you didn’t know exactly how. You had this excitement about life that was just contagious, and I found that very attractive. It seemed to me that for you, success was inevitable, and that made me want to be a part of your life.

You never try to hide who you are, and over the last seven years, I have learned a lot about you and we have been through a lot together. I loved the anniversary card you sent me saying that you’d do it all again, the good times and the hard times. And I’m not mad you didn’t know to get a card or anything else until I said something. I’m not mad you didn’t get me presents on certain occasions, or didn’t go to Kristi’s wedding with me, or lots of other things I thought you should have known to do. I forgive you for those things and for all the things we have talked about and that you have written letters about. I know you are sorry for all the ways you hurt me, and I realize now, that you honestly did not know what you were supposed to do in many of those situations.

I understand now. You think differently. We are physically wired to view the world in different ways. And that will make our marriage a challenge. But with God all things are possible. And it will be hard, but with His help, I can do it. I am up for the challenge.

I like that you are different. You are so much more passionate and aware than the average person. You see things others don’t. More importantly, you see past things that aren’t as important to the bigger picture. I realize now that your idiosyncrasies are not something you can change, and that your needs are hard to express in language that a neuro-typical like me would understand. But now that we have this explanation of why we just keep missing each other on so many things, we can learn how to work through our differences.

Asperger’s is a lifelong condition. There are no drugs or any kind of treatment. There are only certain strategies we can use to cope with having been wired differently. These strategies are worth pursuing if we plan to be in the 20% of undivorced Aspie marriages. I have found a plethora of resources on Aspie relationships, especially marriages. I ordered one book on Amazon and downloaded and read another e-book that was very helpful. I used many of the recommendations for conversation found in the book when I spoke with you about taking Nina this past week. It was hard for me to do, because I had to try very hard to suppress my natural reactions to what you said. But I was able to do it with the understanding that you understand things differently. And though it was hard, the conversation was productive and in the end, positive.

I hated that I had to spell out for you just how anxious I get about my babies and the terrible thoughts I struggle with concerning their safety. That is an issue I try hard to hide, and I do not like discussing it, because I can never do it without crying. I just see all the images I did not ask to pop into my head the first time come rushing back to me, so clearly and so horribly terrifying. But that conversation made think about it and consider that maybe that sort of anxiety is not normal, and I may need to get help dealing with it.

I knew our marriage, and this situation was bigger than I thought; I just didn’t realize how much bigger. When I first considered the possibility that you had Asperger’s, I was mad at God for the first time in my life. I had never been angry with Him before, but I just couldn’t understand why He would make some people in such a way that they had so much trouble understanding other people, especially since we were all created for relationship – to love and to be loved, by God and by each other. I had felt so enlightened, as though I had discovered some great truth, when I started reading about Theology of the Body and realized that the context of the Bible and of God’s plan for mankind was covenant, the highest form of relationship, and that our interpersonal relationships are designed to tie into his greater plan. That’s why there is so much history in the Bible. Who did what with whom matters. What we do in our life to affect the lives of others matters. How could God create people for relationship, and then give some of them an emotional disability that handicaps their relationships?

But then I realized I was looking at this from my own limited perspective. And God is limitless. He is so great and His mystery encompasses depths we cannot fathom. He created both neuro-typicals and Aspies for the same reason he created both men and women. He wants us to be different. He is not one, easily defined being that our mind can put in a box. In His infinite wisdom, He makes plans outside of time and conducts our history to bring about his glory and our redemption. He wants us to understand things in different ways so that we can better understand Him. He wants us to learn to think outside ourselves. It was then I realized that you having Asperger’s is not what has made things harder for us, but both of us not being able to understand each other is what has made things harder for us. And though we have both tried to understand each other, we have failed. I found my own limitations, and beyond them, I found God.

So now, I have given my will completely over to God. You do the same. You told me you would do WHATEVER it takes to make our marriage work. I will, too. Now let’s find out what that is. The first thing we need to do is go see a specialist, someone who is more familiar with Asperger’s Syndrome, and get a diagnosis. I believe you have Asperger’s, and if you do, that will greatly change our approach to marriage counseling. I want us both to know for certain that is the case so that we can get recommendations on the best way to build OUR marriage (ours is not typical, and so that’s why typical counseling has fallen short) and do what we need to do to make it easier to love and understand each other.

I love you.

Your wife,

Danielle
 
 

Recent Comments from Disturbed NT Partners of Asperger's Men

Anonymous... How he is constantly mis reading me and other situations. How he feels frustrated that he tries and tries, but still misses out, even in social settings. We have a LOT of communication issues. But since we have a son diagnosed with Aspergers, we at least have something we can hold on to. We understand what is going on, but fixing it is definitely a challenge. Many evenings are usually watching TV, working on the computer or flat out arguing nothing in between. We have tried therapy, but my husband doesn't see anything wrong with HIM! He lives by the adage if it isn't squeaking, then it doesn't need the grease, so it doesn't get attention. WE just talk about it all night and then forget about it until the next time. WE have been married for 15 years this way. Probably remain so for another 40 or so. Not healthy, but we are adapting.



Anonymous... I have been married to an aspie for 49 years. He has retired three times but keeps going back after a few months. He uses the excuse of credit card debt which I piled while searching for something to fill the void. It has been a sex less marriage for 20 years due time his health I guess. Now he has stage 4 cancer and is once again picking work over me. It is only a few days a week but I feel rejected (not a new feeling). I am hollow and so far beyond sad. I live on antidepressants and he just acts like life is fine.

Anonymous... My advice to all women neurotypicals married to Aspies, as described above, you are NOT happy, are struggling, getting picked on, dealing with fights and melt-downs, it does NOT get better - it gets worse! Get out early while you can have a life. You're not doing Anyone any favors - your Aspie husband and not yourself. You will end up regretting not having a life. Let your Aspie husband find an Aspie wife. You find a Neurotypical husband. Living with an Aspie husband is living with an abusive husband. Period. Do you want to be a victim of abuse? Get out early.

Anonymous... Everyone in an Aspie marriage - GET OUT NOW! It never gets better and only gets Worse. You deserve a life; you deserve to be treated well. You are dealing with abuse. Do you want to be a victim of abuse? You do not deserve to be constantly put-down, yelled at, and told it's your problem. That is abuse. GET OUT! Do NOT stay for the children, do not put up fronts, get out while you're young enough to start another life with normalcy, or you will look back and regret you had no life. Period. Let the Aspies marry other Aspies. You go get in a nurturing, caring relationship.

Anonymous... My soul has withered living in an NT-AS marriage for 24 years. I am drained of all life from within. I am exhausted (to say the least) from trying to figure out my husband, from being the social-interpreter for him (because he can be clueless here), from constantly protecting him from everyone who misunderstands his communications and facial expressions, from coaching him for 'normal' (neurotypical) behavior and interactions. I was literally losing my mind, when I came across an internet article titled "Effects of the differing neuro developmental levels" which tells exactly what the issues are. It is a somewhat a relief to know that experiences like mine are documented and studied and that help is available. What I need most now is to find a support group of NTs in my part of the world - India. I am praying I will find one.

Anonymous.. I'm an NT married for more than 20 years to an undx AS. Sought counseling for myself because he has me convinced I'm the one with anger issues, am overly controlling...and he is SO laid back, so the problem is with me, right? When I explain I'm stressed because he's been unemployed for the last several years, it's "my" problem that I don't understand this is "just temporary" -- no "yes, I can understand how that worries you, so what can I do to help ease your concerns?" When I stress that Anonymous... I'm responsible for the bills, household management, kids, cleaning, cooking, and now working because he doesn't, well it's my fault for "having high standards." Umm...preferring him to not pay bills anymore because he "forgets" and then we get fined for hundreds of dollars in late fees is a "high standard"? What freaks me out is that I've been working really hard to describe things rationally in hopes that helps him understand my perspective, and he gets so sidetracked in arguing where I'm wrong with my logic, that every conversation just devolves into a circle argument, with no resolution in sight. Frankly, it's depressing. My counselor is the one who picked up that he is AS (after meeting with him several times about "my issues"), and I've been doing tons of research and have been so relieved to say, "okay, now let's figure this out together." His response? He wants to "think about" for a while...so the silence about issues resolution just continues. I've decided at my next counseling session to let my therapist know I want to work on setting up healthy boundaries for me...after years of emotional need starvation, no sex, the majority of "life management" for us on my shoulders...I'm just exhausted.

Anonymous... This is an affliction - mental illness and It's more common than I thought after 30 years and surviving an Aspie marriage - without divorce, going to jail; compromising my relationship with the Most High; and creating a happy world of my own -- deserve a ribbon or something - we are all imperfect and have to put up with us as well - but this Aspergers is no joke! it deeply affects marriages in a way that can sometimes feel like emotional abuse -- Denial, pride and being high functioning; successful in his secular world makes the Cassandra syndrome my world- most folks won't believe what our world is like because NT wives help to protect and create a happy front for our families, kids and their families and our spiritual families - They of course have no clue and are just as content as it is - as long as I don't demand basic fundamentals - but I've never been the shut up and take it type of person- and unfortunately thru criticism as a way of fighting back have not made his world easy - so we continue to ride the roller coaster

Anonymous... I feel...it is such a lonely existence.. HE is my 2nd husband....all ''nice'' at first...dinners..weekends away..I saw a few mood swings etc....but because he is Diabetic type 1...I put them down to that. There were times when I said the ''wrong thing'' and he got angry..hands at my throat few times...broken dish...food thrown.....Then, when I had my2nd cancer..resulting in a mastectomy/chemo..hair loss etc..HE really changed. Would take me to chemo at the hospital...leave me there...pick me up after...take me home...and leave me to fend for myself. Of course... I have lost all of my libido....(Post menopause) and I take Tamoxifen every day ..only 1 yr to go on it) HE has been more withdrawn( if that is possible)because of NO sex..BUT he was never highly sexed anyway!! I cannot leave ..this is my home....I have been diagnosed as having a low depression..and will see a Psychologist....I have to learn to be stronger.....WHAT else can I do..?? 

Anonymous... I have been married for 17 years to my husband. I now understand that what I have called "socially inappropriate behavior" has a name called Aspergers. It has been complete hell for me and my family. I now understand that his brother and mother also share this diagnosis. The behavior I have been exposed to during our relationship has been devastating and painful. I have come to believe that my husband does not love me, but now I am seeing that he is wired differently and sees life much different than I. I began drinking to be comfortably numb and what he did and said and didn't do didn't hurt so much. I entered AA over a year ago and believed him when he said I was an alcoholic. I thought it would solve all of our problems and no realize that it is multifaceted. I do not know if my husband will be willing to accept this diagnosis, but I will hang in there and go to marital counseling and counseling for my son who has ADHD and possible aspergers. God bless to all who live in this situation.

 

Discouraged "Neurotypical" Wife Speaks Out

My husband has Asperger’s. It's stressful and I'm exhausted. The 'support' groups I’ve joined basically say the same thing: 'It's not his fault, accept him for who he is.' He’s selfish, rude, and throws tantrums like a 3 year old to get his way. I feel like I’m raising a second child that will never grow up. I am worn out, sad, and lonely. 

I feel I’m losing my 'self' through all of this and I just don’t have any strength left to fight. I'm the one that has to handle everything, and there is never someone there to help me. I have pushed aside my friends when it comes to social gatherings because my husband always seems so disengaged at these events. He denies that anything is wrong and won’t seek help. 

An outsider looking in would see a man who is very smart, but emotionally flat. The outsider would probably feel sorry for him for having a fat, angry and horrified wife -- and have no idea that when she married him, she was pretty, healthy, funny and cheerful. He took all of these things from me. 

When at home, he is a 'cold fish' and seems resentful if family needs his help. As he has gotten older, he is more controlling. He rarely shows compassion for us, while claiming we are the center of his world.  I didn't realize what was happening to me because I loved him. It was like a slow leak that you don’t recognize until it is too late. 



I have blamed myself for everything – every blow up, every sigh he generates, every look of disgust, the fact we are not sexual or even affectionate. The fact he doesn’t 'get it' makes it all the more head-banging frustrating. I just started taking anxiety medication. I am literally going crazy. 

I'm so sick of hearing, ‘He can’t help it. He's unaware of it. He's wired different. Have more understanding. Imagine what it is like to be him.' I guess I'm a terrible wife for not being more understanding. 

I get tired of all those people saying how interesting, talented, and special people with Asperger's are. I’m sure they are in some situations. But, it simply does not work if you want an intimate and warm relationship. ~ The End




==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Deal with Me: An Aspergers Man’s Note to His New Girlfriend

I understand that you are frustrated with me right now, and that I can ‘drive you crazy’ (as you say).  But I’m not a bad guy who is intentionally trying to be an asshole. Below are 10 things I would like for you to know about me. Maybe this will help you understand that I really am not a selfish or insensitive person.

1. Please don’t assume that I’m uninterested just because I’m not telling you on a daily basis that ‘I like you’ or ‘find you attractive’. Decide what you think of me and let me know. After I become aware of your attraction and am not confused about your nonverbal gestures and flirtation, it will be easier for me to decide if I feel the same way.

2. It would be helpful if you would ease me into large social situations (e.g., parties or group outings). Please understand if I am overwhelmed or decide not to go with you. There will be times when I prefer being alone or with less people.

3. If I talk in a confusing manner (e.g., use complex vocabulary or don’t answer your questions directly), please ask me for more clarification.



4. If I appear to have certain quirks (e.g., not wanting to talk on the phone), please understand that it is related to the disorder. But do feel free to confront me about any issues that bother you, and explain why it bothers you. I will try to understand.

5. Because my brain is wired differently, I have difficulty initiating interactions, maintaining eye contact, reading the non-verbal cues of others, responding to the initiations of others, sharing enjoyment, and taking another person’s perspective. These are the social skills that come naturally to most people. Not me. But feel free to help me in these areas. I consider myself to be a life-long learner and will always need to keep pushing myself to new levels.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

6. It would be great if you would learn what my interests are, and try to engage in a few activities that focus on those interests. If we could go on a few dates where social interaction isn’t necessarily the focus, that will help me be more engaged and conversational.

7. You can always tell me how you are feeling, especially if you are angry, and why. I may not understand your emotions and why you are reacting a certain way, but I promise I will listen.

8. The long-held notion that people with Aspergers lack an interest in social interactions is inaccurate. I do indeed desire social involvement, But I lack some of the skills to interact effectively. This lack of “know-how” often leads to feelings of social anxiety for me. Social situations can evoke a great deal of stress, and I may need to take a time-out from whatever we are doing at the time to collect myself. When I do, please do not perceive it as me being antisocial.



9. As juvenile as it may sound, romance can be puzzling to me sometimes, but again, you will probably see improvement after explaining the meaning behind it, why it’s necessary, and that it makes you feel good.

10. Lastly, please don’t use riddles or sarcasm in the same way you would with someone who doesn’t have Aspergers. If you do, ask me if I understood and then explain what you meant. Otherwise, I may just be confused.

Like everyone on planet earth, we are people with a mix of strengths and weaknesses. I am different – but not defective. The world needs all different kinds of minds – including the Aspergers mind. The way I think should be regarded as a positive attribute, not a shortcoming. I speak for all people with Aspergers when I say this: When our differences are embraced, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

Asperger's Boyfriend Doesn't Like To Be Touched?

"My new boyfriend advised me he has asperger syndrome, which I have no problem with that (other than I don’t really know a lot about the ‘disorder’). I’m very interested in him …he’s a really nice guy, but I have one issue that puzzles me. He seems to pull back a bit when I make physical contact with him (lean against him, put my arm around him, for example). He says that sometimes it’s hard for him to be touched by others and stated that he never liked to be hugged by anyone as a child. This concerns me, because how can you have a close relationship with someone who is uncomfortable with physical touch… would be really hard to have a man that you can't hug, kiss or hold. Is it common for aspergers?"


Although it can happen, it is rare for adults with Asperger’s (high functioning autism) to "refuse" to be touched at all times - in all situations. However, it is fairly common for them to have tactile sensory issues, which may make them avoid certain types of physical contact with others on occasion. 
 
BUT... this really has nothing at all to do with the inability - or lack of desire - to show or receive affection. I work with many adults on the spectrum, and they are the most kind and compassionate people I know! So please don't make the mistake of taking your boyfriend's lack of interest in physical contact as a personal insult.

One of the most pervasive myths that surrounds Asperger’s is that a person who has it will never show affection and can’t accept receiving affection from others. Asperger’s and the way it affects people really runs the gamut from mild to severe. An excellent point to remember when dealing with a person on the autism spectrum is that each one of them is different and will react to almost everything differently.

For a few Asperger’s adults, a simple, random hug can be sensory overload. They can become agitated if they are touched without prior warning. You will probably need to have a trial-and-error approach when it comes to hugging and touching your boyfriend. Some methods may be responded to in a positive way, other ways might not be. You just have to try and see.

When you want to give your boyfriend a hug, instead of rushing into his personal space and just taking one, approach him and open your arms. Smile and see how he responds. If he doesn't come leaning in for a hug, don’t feel snubbed. It just wasn’t the right time.

Let’s don’t sugar-coat things here, though. You need to know that trying to figure out a puzzling disorder like Asperger’s can be a lifelong challenge, and for many partners and spouses, the affection issue may be the biggest. But with patience and learning to go by your boyfriend’s cues and not your own, you will be able to connect with him in a deep and satisfying way.

==> More information on dealing with boyfriends on the autism spectrum can be found here...

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> Skype Counseling for Struggling Couples Affected by Asperger's and HFA


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… Been diagnosed at 44 with Asperger's officially this year (2017) I was and sometimes still am, "skittish" about people touching me. this is not just for personal relationships, also friendships, work etc. let him make the first move but let him know you want him to touch you or that you want to touch him.  :-) takes some of the stress away.
•    Anonymous said… better to know it going into the relationship than finding out after 40 years of a " frustrating and rocky" marriage...
•    Anonymous said… hi i have aspergers and i am in a long term relationship and i dont have any pyysical contact at all, i find it to hard, becasue of sensry issues but we are still close
•    Anonymous said… I am very new to this topic, so please forgive me if this is an ignorant question. If I can't stand to be touched when I'm upset/mad due to the tenderness of the touch angering me even more, is that an autistic tendency? I get lost in so many articles I'm just hoping I can talk to other high-functioning folks and get some takes, personal stories, and opinions.  😊
•    Anonymous said… I can ID with that poor chap; i think we can see what we miss out on due to our hypersensitivity.
•    Anonymous said… I don't mind being touched and I have Aspergers  :)
•    Anonymous said… I sometimes have this issue as well. But it's more I don't want to be touched or held onto by certain people. My close friends or a girlfriend(intimacy is no problem for me)could grab on or hug or lean on me, but I'm uncomfortable with touching or being touched by certain family members or people who are effectively strangers to me. I definitely tense up when grabbed or touched by someone other than those truly close to me.
•    Anonymous said… I'm the same it took a while before I was comfortable with my boyfriend initiating contact, and even now if I'm out of sorts in any way or upset he know not to try to hug me, but hugging a person is his instinct when they are upset and it took him time to get used to not doing it to me. He does say that because I don't like contact that much, it makes it mean so much more to him when I do show affection and give him a hug or kiss.
•    Anonymous said… It can be VERY difficult if that's a true need for you.
•    Anonymous said… It takes awhile... I'm the same way... I don't like being touched until I'm VERY comfortable with the person... once I get comfortable though I tend to swing the opposite way...
•    Anonymous said… It's absolutely fantastic he told you up front!! Just know his love for you will be shown in different ways. You'll both have to make adjustments.... but isn't that true of any relationship? I've been with my asperger's husband for 10 years now.
•    Anonymous said… No, no we don't. It takes a very long time before I feel comfortable with someone even high fiving me.
•    Anonymous said… Phisical contact can happen for me but it takes a bit time to get used to the person been trying to
•    Anonymous said… That would be me and is why I have never had a girlfriend
•    Anonymous said… This is a common thing sign aspergics. I used to 'ball up' when ever some one Hugged me.
•    Anonymous said… This is a common thing sign aspergics. I used to 'ball up' when ever some one Hugged me.
•    Anonymous said… You might find it a bit ridiculous, but my husband sometimes ask before, like "hey can I hug you now and I find it much more easy because I know what's coming, and I'm really enjoying it. 
*     Anonymous said… I am still learning myself, but from what I understand and have experienced personally, autism/aspergers is a disorder of the senses. Our minds are wired differently and how we perceive the world around us is different. Each person is different and how they perceive each sensation and which sensations they are more or less sensitive to varies. It’s like each of our senses is on a dial and the dials are either turned way up or turned way down. For example, my son has a sensitivity to sound. Whenever anything is too loud, he’ll place his hands over his ears and say, “Too loud! Too loud!” When he talks, he often mumbles or uses a high pitched voice. Because his perception is different, he hears sound much louder than it actually is and speaking at a higher pitch in a normal volume is easier for him to handle. Sound is one of my senses that seems to be turned down a bit. My hearing is fine, but in order for me to perceive what I’m hearing, the volume needs to be turned up a bit. I like my music loud to drown out all of the other noises and the voice in my head that goes non-stop. If I don’t focus on it, I talk very loudly. My whole life people have been asking me why I was yelling, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. It’s because my perception of sound is different. Touch is tricky. Different textures and types of touch give different sensations, which can be perceived a lot of different ways. For me personally, it’s kind of all over the place. I find myself craving certain kinds of touch at times, because it helps me feel grounded or provides a sensation I am looking for at the time (such as holding my husband’s hand in a crowded place to give me something to focus on, so my anxieties don’t spin out of control). Other types of touch I find repulsive (like wool). Sometimes it’s the texture, while other times it might be the weight or pressure behind the touch that feels wrong or even just how/where they are touching me period. Hugs and affection has to be done in certain ways or I can’t stand it and will pull away. Even how our fingers intertwine when we hold hands has to be just right or I can’t do it. That being said, I am still a very affectionate person. My husband and I just had to learn what worked and what didn’t. It was difficult at times, especially in the beginning when we were both learning. But, we found our way. The key is open communication between the two of you. He needs to feel safe enough to let you know something is bothering him and you need to be able to not take it personally when he pulls away. If you are really interested in him, I recommend educating yourself. Life can be interesting and challenging when your perception of the world is different. Being with someone with a different perception of the world can be difficult at times. Even if it doesn’t work out, it won’t hurt to have the knowledge. You never know what might happen in the future. My husband and I had to figure it out without the knowledge or a diagnosis. We now know why we had the difficulties we did, but having a diagnosis and knowledge that comes with it back then would have been extremely helpful. We are now educated and learning to adapt to a whole new set of sensitivities with our son. Hope this helps some at least. Best of luck! 
*     Anonymous said... We're in our 5th year of marriage and I'm learning all the time, my Aspergers comes with hypersensitivity as well so some touch is actually physically unpleasant, (I couldn't bear being tickled as a child) but once we realised then my better half is a good deal firmer with touch, which itself has lead to some of the hypersensitivity being lessened.... No idea how or why but there you are... When we first got together I was only just learning about AS and together we worked with it. It's not been easy but is worth the endeavour. I guess it's best to lay it out there off the bat and let the early days play out as they will... Not everyone is willing to invest time and effort into a relationship, and to be honest, you don't really need a relationship like that...

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