Traveling With My Asperger Husband

Traveling With My Asperger Husband. Asperger’s is now referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but for my writing purposes I continue to use the former. Living with an Asperger husband isn’t easy. So can you imagine what travelling with him is like on vacation? I’ve been married for over 20 years. I didn’t know my husband was on the Spectrum until about 13 years into our marriage. My husband is a kind and gentle man. He is intelligent and can be hyperfocused in what interests him. I had been divorced for seven years and was a single mom to my then 10 year-old daughter when I met my husband. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I have training and experience in understanding human behavior. He is a computer program developer so his “nerdy” disposition and odd behavior seemed normal, as well as cute when I first met him.

Bali

My husband and I have traveled all over the world. We’ve been to six of the seven Continents and hope to visit Antarctica sooner rather than later. We’ve been to some exotic places that some people only fantasize about going to. So you can imagine I was feeling fortunate and elated when we went to some of the wonders of the world. These vacations and destinations I share are during the days I didn’t realize my husband was on the Spectrum. There are characteristics of Asperger’s that made travelling challenging.

Traveling With My Asperger Husband

Thailand

I develop our trips which include making all the plans. From airlines, hotels, food, scheduling, etc. So while on holiday I expect ease and enjoyment. I also expect my husband to exercise some kind of help if not through male chivalry. I noticed when checking into the airport and retrieving our baggage, he left the heavy lifting to me. I not only carried my own luggage but had to make sure his bags were securely removed from the baggage carousel. I also noticed he would let our daughter get her own bags, as well. We then would proceed to getting transport to our hotel. Again, I noticed he didn’t take the lead on procuring a taxi or find out where the shuttle bus is located. After about several trips like this I became frustrated and angry. I wouldn’t bring it to his attention because I thought common sense guided that process to help out.

Peru Amazon

The airport situation pretty much set the tone for the vacation. Of course, there were nice times, but I can truly say most of the time was confusing and frustrating. I became resentful. He seemed grouchy and non interactive when he was out of his normal routine and environment. He acted curt with wait staff and would become frustrated and irritable when sightseeing. I could tell something was wrong but never addressed my observations with him. Due to his sensitivity to bright light eating out doors under the sun was not a nice experience. Again, because I didn’t know what was happening I thought he didn’t like or want to eat outdoors. He’s not a picnic type of guy so I thought as much.

I’d make up my own narratives about what could be going on and say things to myself like, “I wish he’d stayed home,” “he’s lucky to be on such a great trip,” and “what the f**k!”

Traveling With My Asperger Husband

Peru Machu Picchu

An incident happened in Bali where I became enraged on our way home as I was fearful of being in a developing Country during a layover. I had purchased some wine for my father to thank him for house sitting. I purchased it through Duty Free and had my husband hold the bag for me while going through security. The security agent asked him what’s in the bag and he told them dinner wine. The security guard motioned him to an area where he appeared lost to the rest of us for about 30 minutes. My husband immediately followed the guards directive without even looking at me to see what was happening. We almost missed our connecting flight. He had to throw out the wine despite my following duty free instructions. The point of this story is my Asperger husband and his tunnel vision. It creates much chaos and havoc to me, the Neurotypical partner. I would have assessed the situation and explained to the guard of the duty free process from Bali to Taiwan and the situation could have been managed with less anxiety for all parties. When I tried to talk to my husband about it he blew it off as he said he was following the directive given to him. He offered no show of empathy or validating my ability to have managed the situation a little easier.

Fiji

I am fortunate to have a partner who is up for traveling to exotic places. I appreciate that he tries to accommodate. I also appreciate that it is difficult for him in making changes to his routine. He is a sport about eating indigenous food. I will say we have a wonderful time. There are snags that come up whether you are in a neurotypical relationship or not.

Tips to manage our traveling include:

  • Develop vacation plans together
  • Be explicit with what is wanted/needed
  • Talk about what the expectations are for the holiday
  • Make a schedule for the days on holiday and what the activities are for that day
  • Develop a list of what you want to do and what your husband wants to do
  • If you are with family everyone can benefit from utilizing these tips
  • Express thoughts and feelings sooner rather than later
  • Find time at the end of the day to review the day and talk about expectations for the next day
  • Carve out alone time so each can recharge one’s energy

Australia Uluru outback

For more information about traveling with your Asperger husband please contact me at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com or call (858) 735-1139

 

Living With An Asperger Husband

Living With An Asperger Husband. After finishing my book, “Happy Me Happy We: Six Steps To Know Yourself So You Know What You Want In A Relationship,” I understand the root of happiness starts within yourself. Our external environment can affect our ability to make choices that make us happy or unhappy. When you concentrate on yourself and what you want things fall in place to make your life more functional and content. It’s a game changer when you start with you and what you want. Sometimes codependency makes for getting other people’s needs met over our own. We become codependent as a means of survival in some families as you grow up. Asking for what you need and want for some growing up was deemed as disrespectful and selfish. And often times met with negative reinforcement in the form of judgment, criticism, and abuse.

Living With An Asperger Husband

As a Marriage and Family Therapist I help you reframe the negative experiences you had to bear as a young child (inner child). I help your Functional Adult manage those scary feelings from childhood to assert oneself so you get what you need and want. As a Certified Neurodiverse Couples Counselor I help the Neurotypical (which is typically the wife) manage Cassandra Syndrome aka ongoing traumatic syndrome. Feeling like you are losing your sense of self is frustrating and disheartening. You can tend to feel like leaving your marriage as saving your sense of well being becomes the focus for survival.

Living With An Asperger Husband

Living with an Asperger husband is very challenging. Even during what can be deemed as stable times can instantly turn into another awful situation where feelings are hurt and anger increases. I lived a life that was confusing to say the least. As a clinician, I was flabbergasted when I realized my husband had Asperger’s. For 10 of our 23 years of marriage we had major problems with communication. My husband is a highly intelligent and kind person so I didn’t think he was doing these inconsiderate behaviors on purpose. I had a meltdown every six weeks and threatened divorce over and over again. Threatening the relationship is never appropriate as it undermines any chance of safety and security within the dyad. My acting out behavior included yelling, cursing, belittling, threatening, and name calling. I’m ashamed of my behavior because I should know better. However, I am only human and am not immune to what living with a person on the Spectrum can do to one’s self esteem.

I desperately needed tools to better communicate with one another. Traditional marriage counseling was a total waste of time. I did appreciate it being part of the process in educating myself about Autism Spectrum Disorder. I studied many journal articles written on the subject and became certified as a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor through Asperger/Autism Network AANE.

Through neurodiverse couples counseling, my husband and I recognize and understand that we speak different languages and have very different perspectives. We have effective tools to initiate conversation, share thoughts and feelings, and ask for what we need and want. We have learned to be explicit in saying what we need to say and describing what it looks like so we get a visual of what is being talked about. We’re not perfect and I still have meltdowns every now and then but they aren’t as devastating as they were in the past. Understanding is key and acquiring tools to show each other empathy is a game changer.

 

For more  information on managing your life with your Asperger husband please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or through my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

Affairs Can Keep You In Your Marriage

Affairs Can Keep You In Your Marriage. I know, this sounds strange, and even evil to some people. There are so many reasons for starting an affair. People don’t start affairs because they hate their partners. In fact, individuals in affairs still love their husband or wife. Being in a long-term marriage, especially if you married quite young, can be a challenge when it comes to keeping the relationship alive and exciting. As a Marriage Counselor, specializing in Affair Recovery, I believe all needs cannot be met by one person within a relationship. I understand when a commitment to be monogamous has been made it is important to keep that promise. Most wedding vows include the monogamy piece about being faithful to each other above all others. I believe monogamy is a choice and is taken seriously.  Long-term marriages can become challenging in sustaining that feeling we all want. To feel alive, be noticed, validated, seen and heard.

 

Affairs Can Keep You In Your Marriage

I am working with a woman who has been married for 15 years with two children ages 17 and 13. She immigrated to this Country to provide a better life for her children. She claims her husband is a very good man but does not have intimate feelings for him. She has been a good wife and mother, and contributes to the household financially with her job. She turned 41 last year and wants a life that is more fulfilling. She believes she married her husband because her family thought they’d make a good fit. He is a good provider and is fine with decisions she makes within the household. Sounds like a dream, right? Not if you’re not happy with the decisions you’ve made because of family/peer pressure.

She wants to allow herself to feel the emotional intimacy that intimate couples feel. She found just that with a co-worker she’s known for several years. They began as mentor and mentee. She was a naive woman new to America. This man was more experienced and knowledgeable with work and the American culture. She was fond of him and appreciated his attention. She was drawn to him because he made her feel alive and desired. Her husband is a complacent man. She states he has little ambition and is content with where they are in their marriage. The marriage consist of taking care of household responsibilities and care for their children. She does not want a divorce and says she will never ask for one. She feels guilty, but at the same time wants to honor her feelings. She’s in a struggle between what she should do and what she wants.

This woman is developing a sense of self.  Individuating and differentiating from the family that raised her into a person who has wants of their own. Counseling is a space to share her thoughts and feelings and continue to get the insight needed to make the right decision for herself. There is no judgement or criticism in counseling just a venue to ponder thoughts and get some guidance.

She doesn’t know where this road will lead her. But for now she feels grounded with how she feels. She is taking the time to understand herself and what she needs to move forward. Life isn’t easy and when you’ve entered into a relationship that isn’t working it makes life even more difficult.

If you need to talk to someone counseling is a safe place to share those conversations. Please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or visit my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

 

 

What Phase In Marriage Is Infidelity At High Risk?

What Phase In Marriage Is Infidelity At High Risk? Seems it doesn’t matter if it’s been two, four, or seven years; more studies are finding that whatever year mile marker you’re in can place their toll on a marriage. Whatever recent statistic you choose to accept couples tend to head for divorce after certain periods of their married life. Whether it’s after the two year mark, the four or five year mark, or that infamous 7-year mark – more than double the number are divorced after they meet their relationship peak for whatever their reasons. This period of time is comically referred to as the “seven-year itch.”  There are Four Phases couples go through in relationships.  There is the Honeymoon Stage, the Conflict Stage, the Stability Stage and the Commitment Stage.

What Phase In Marriage Is Infidelity At High Risk?

Remaining in a committed relationship can be incredibly fulfilling and incredibly difficult, even for the healthiest couples. Our definitions of “love” and what it means to be in a satisfying relationship also weighs heavily on our ability to weather the difficult and disconnected times that can actually be a bridge to even deeper levels of intimacy.

People often confuse the rush of excitement and infatuation that characterizes the start of a relationship with true love. They are then disappointed when this rush fades and they encounter serious challenges in the relationship. These challenges, though, can be a doorway into deeper and more satisfying phases of the relationship. Here are the 3 phases of marriage (which build on each other), that emerged during Dr. John Gottman’s research:

1.  The Honeymoon Stage is where you feel the most in love.  For most couples, the beginning of a relationship is the easiest.  Some say it’s like a drug addiction.  This is where you feel the most chemistry. You seem to be on the same page about most issues. Getting along is almost effortless. Some couples describe this as a merging of two people.  The Honeymoon phase typically last about eighteen months to 2 years.  Part of the thrill of falling in love is due to the fact that you see only the best in your partner.

2.  The Conflict Stage – As time goes on, each partner realizes that everything really isn’t perfect. This is the Conflict Stage where power struggles emerge.  It is typically around the 3rd or 4th year as each look at their differences and respond to them where they either predict a happy relationship or continuing struggles. This is the stage where most couples break up or survive.

This is where Couples Counseling comes in.  Marital discord peaks around the 4th year and then starts to taper off.  This period of time may be a combination of dwindling sexual chemistry and adjusting to each other’s idiosyncrasies.  The early years of marriage are when you replace the illusions with reality.  The “good behavior” put on at the beginning of the relationship is now normalized by being “just you” which could include being messy, displaying short temper, and not being as romantic as before.

3.  The Stability Stage is when conflict resolution and coping skills are learned and both have clear boundaries about each other.  The relationship is more balanced and both partner’s are usually getting their needs met and are fairly happy.

4.  The Commitment Stage is where the couple chooses each other consciously deciding they want a future together and whether have children by co-creating or blending families from previous relationships and making a stronger commitment for longevity in their union.

As couples move through these phases over years and decades, life happens. As wonderful as it is to have children, most couples experience a sharp decline in their marital satisfaction during that time. If we live long enough, we’ll lose jobs, face significant set-backs, and dear friends and family will pass on. Our partners will inevitably disappoint and hurt us.

The marker of a good marriage isn’t whether or not the dark times will come (they most certainly will), it’s whether or not the dark times will permanently damage the relationship or whether they’re used to eventually create an even deeper level of commitment, intimacy, and sense of shared purpose.

For more information on prevention and affair recovery contact me at (858) 735-1139.

 

Are You Seen and Heard?

Are You Seen and Heard? Everyone wants to be loved. To feel significant. To be seen. When those needs aren’t met, we end up in power struggles without even realizing it. We feel cut off and don’t have the intimacy we used to have. We can’t come to a happy concensus, because we don’t know what we want. Even if we do, we don’t know how to get it in a healthy, honest way.

Are You Seen and Heard?

There are no college classes on relationships. No one teaches us conflict resolution. When problems come up, we feel angry, disappointed, and overwhelmed. Of course we wind up frustrated and resentful. Disappointed, we keep rehashing the same problem with no relief. We end up stuck in a loop. Crushed that someone who used to be so important to us no longer feels that way, we wall ourselves off. We try to make sure we can never get hurt again. That emotional disconnect grows worse and worse, and the pattern starts all over again.

Are You Seen and Heard?

How many of these statements describe your disappointment with your relationship?

  • Conflict resolution is hard for me. I don’t know how to talk to people.
  • I have thought, heard, or said, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you anymore.”
  • I feel cut off from my partner. I even feel disdain for my partner, and it affects the intimacy in our relationship.
  • I feel angry, frustrated, disappointed, overwhelmed, and resentful.
  • I’m frustrated with the state of our relationship, and I’m deciding whether to stay or go.

  • I’m upset about not being heard. My partner doesn’t listen, and we no longer come to a happy consensus when we disagree.
  • My partner and I fight a lot. This creates immature or acting-out behavior.
  • I keep going over the same problem without my relief. I’m stuck in a loop, and I don’t know how to break it.
  • My perspectives are never validated or understood. I don’t feel I can speak up and share my opinion.
  • I have an idealized version of what a relationship should look like, and when it doesn’t meet that vision, I’m disappointed and upset.
  • I’m sad because my needs aren’t being met.
  • The person who was once the most important person in my world doesn’t act like we still share the bond. I don’t feel important anymore. There’s an emotional disconnect.

There are common problems in relationships, and they can feel insurmountable. But they’re not. The pattern can be broken.

It’s time to get back to yourself, to remember who you are–who your intuition, insight, and choices want you to be. It’s time to get back to me. When you know yourself, your me, you know what you want–and how to get it. My book “Happy Me Happy We: Six Steps To Know Yourself So You Know What You Want In A Relationship” shows you just how to do that.

Please contact me for more information at (858) 735-1139 or go to my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com