Blog for Individuals and Neurodiverse Couples Affected by ASD
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...
"How can a man [with Aspergers syndrome] just switch off his emotions seemingly overnight? Something happened a few weeks ago [I’m not sure what it was exactly] and my husband has changed for the worse… has no interest in sex… no interest in talking to me… no interest in going anywhere with me, etc. Has anyone else experienced this where your AS husband turns into a completely different personality all of the sudden and doesn’t know why? He’s not even aware that he has shut me out. How does this happen? I’m so confused! Is he cheating on me perhaps?"
In counseling couples, it has been my experience that when this happens, it is frequently the case that the husband with AS no longer feels safe in the relationship. In most cases, the relationship difficulties between the two partners/spouses have been going on for several years with no improvement in sight.
Thus, the NT wife has repeatedly registered numerous complaints and concerns about the relationship (in hopes of getting to some kind of a resolution), and the list of concerns and hurts keeps growing.
So, now the husband feels as though there is no way he can redeem himself. That is, the list of problems is simply too long and deep to address at this point (in his mind). Therefore, he feels like he cannot truly be deeply “in love” with someone who has this colossal litany of unresolved issues with his past behavior.
In other words, the AS man in this case feels that he is in a very vulnerable position and would be putting himself in “harm’s way” if he were to “stay in love” with someone this “threatening.” He dials-down his love, affection and connection in order to avoid getting hurt in the event that his NT wife registers more “painful” complaints – or worse yet – leaves him.
He’s afraid to have attachments to someone who may abandon or ridicule him. And he uses the wife’s “criticisms” as evidence that abandonment is highly probable – and even imminent. This is (unfortunately) a survival strategy (i.e., a way to avoid feelings of shame and the pain of loss).
Of course, this is not the only reason an AS husband may suddenly "detach" from the relationship, but it is by far the main reason I have witnessed in counseling couples affected by the disorder.