I know mine does. Yours may too.
- Is your husband not thoughtful?
- Is he forgetful?
- Does he appear to have no self-awareness?
- Tends to be late all the time?
- Shows little to no Empathy?
- Seems Antisocial?
What exactly is Asperger’s? Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder characterized as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that impairs development in communication, social interaction, and behavior. The precise causes of autistic disorders have not been identified, although an inherited (genetic) component is believed to be involved. Supporting this idea is the fact that Asperger’s syndrome has been observed to run in families. Based on my clinical observations of my husband and his parents, he may have inherited it from one or both of them.
20 years ago I met and fell in love with a kind, generous, and intelligent man. Often quiet in his demeanor and less animated than myself, my friends thought we were an unlikely match. I know now what I didn’t realize then is the comments made about my husband’s behavior offended some and made others feel uncomfortable. As the years went by I started to observe and experience a dynamic between us that consequently lead to feelings of loneliness, frustration, and irritability. He behaved in ways that were almost hurtful and rude.
Situations I now understand:
- We were in Bora Bora on our Honeymoon. After a long flight, we were escorted to our beautiful over-the-water bungalow. As we were settling in I heard a knock at the door where room service brought my husband a refreshing Mai Tai cocktail. I asked where mine was and he said he didn’t order me one. I thought that was strange and nicely called him out on it. He said he didn’t think to ask me. (Aspie’s are often time not thoughtful)
- When our daughter was 5 years old he forgot to pick her up from school after being reminded several times. (Memory problem)
- Whenever I had a conversation with him he wasn’t able to show empathy and continued to talk about what was of interest to him. (Lack of Theory of Mind or Mind Blindness)
- He could go on and on about a topic that was of interest to him and fail to recognize facial expressions denoting I was becoming uninterested or even bored. (No self-awareness)
- He can go MIA (missing in action) for long periods of time working on his computer and not realize it and is often times late. (Time management problem)
- I made a lovely Brunch one day and when we sat at the table to enjoy it he didn’t talk much and appeared troubled. I asked him later what was up as I was angry, more hurt, actually as I and was expecting him to appreciate my efforts. He later told me the sun was brightly shining and hurt his eye. (Sensory Issues)
As a Marriage Counselor who is married to someone on the spectrum, I work with Neurodiverse Couples (one partner has Asperger’s AS and the other does not, Neurotypical NT). Because I’ve lived with my AS husband for over 20 years, I am able to help women who suffer from what is referred to as Cassandra Syndrome where the NT partner experiences psychological trauma from attempting to have a close personal relationship with a person who has deficiencies in interpersonal relationships, in areas such as reciprocity, compassion, empathy, recognition of facial expressions, putting themselves in another’s shoes, and a constellation of features known as “mind blindness.”
During the first decade of our marriage, I was experiencing psychological and emotional distress. The daily trauma of living with an AS can best be described as ongoing traumatic relationship syndrome (OTRS). Even if someone comes into a relationship with a strong sense of self-esteem, it can still be demolished by a partner who has difficulty showing empathy. During the years before we obtained an unofficial diagnosis, I was quite troubled. I was so unhappy I wanted to leave the relationship. I didn’t like the way I felt as I was acting out emotions where I was angry, unreasonable, hurtful and verbally abusive. There was either something terribly wrong with me or there was some psychological challenge with him.
As I didn’t want a divorce I started to educate myself on this syndrome and acquired coping skills to manage my emotions more appropriately, while getting my husband the tools he needed to be more relational. We acquired a process and put systems in place for better communication. With the commitment to moving forward, I can honestly say I am so much happier. There was never any doubt I loved him but the Asperger’s was making for too many challenges to want to stay.
For more information on being able to move forward with your Aspie husband please contact me at (858) 735-1139. I know I can help.