Loneliness With An Asperger Husband. With all the men in the world to marry, I ended up with a man who is on the Spectrum. Asperger syndrome, or Asperger’s, is a previously used diagnosis on the autism spectrum. In 2013, it became part of one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5). ASD is just that. It’s a spectrum of characteristic traits that can make their individual lives and marriages challenging. There’s nothing wrong with being on the Spectrum. I don’t like using the word “syndrome” because it pathologizes and fails to acknowledge the many great traits a person with Asperger’s possess.
I am accustomed to and fondly use the word Asperger’s in providing information to neurodiverse couples. My husband and I are a neurodiverse couple. I am the Neurotypical, NT and he has Asperger’s AS. Neurology matters in that if you don’t understand, recognize and treat the neurodiversity, you’ll never speak each other’s language to communicate or become relational.
Before we understood what we were dealing with life was very hard. My asperger husband realized I was suffering from Cassandra Syndrome aka Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome or Affective Deprivation Disorder. The curse of never being believed became a source of pain and frustration throughout Cassandra’s life. My ongoing psychological and emotional trauma was minimized or ignored when I shared what I was experiencing and feeling in my marriage as my husband is a kind and generous man. I thought I was going crazy and was losing my sense of self. Feeling alone and miserable I started acting out by hurt, anger, disappointment, resentment, and frustration. I had weekly meltdowns where poor self care hurt myself and people I love dearly. I barely recognized myself after years of marriage. I sought individual counseling and was thankful medication managed my anxiety and mild depressive symptoms. As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist I am not immuned to the pain and struggles of relationships. I believe in putting in the effort to save a marriage and in maintaining it.
Loneliness With An Asperger Husband
If there is one word that describes the reaction of a family member to the diagnosis of autism in someone you love, that word is loneliness. Loneliness is disconnection when connection is desired. It is different from the solitude of choosing to be alone. It is a frustrating state related to not being seen, heard or understood. Women talk to me about their loneliness. They talk about the deep awareness that the intimate connection they sought when they married has not only not come to be, but is not possible. This existential shock is met with grief and loss as these women love their husbands but feel the sense of isolation from them knowing they will not have the relationship they expected. The Asperger husband also feels a sense of loneliness. One main difference between the NT and AS lies in the realm of understanding the implicit emotional and cognitive experience of another person. The ability to show empathy and validate another person’s perspective is limited with the AS and is a crucial in feeling emotionally connected.
Managing the feeling of disconnection and loneliness is possible. Here are some helpful tips:
- Don’t put all the blame solely on your husband
- Learn as much as you can about Asperger’s
- Reframe your husband’s behavior so you put a positive spin on it and don’t take things personally
- Don’t take things personally
- Be very explicit about what you need and want – telling him what that behavior looks like for you is very helpful to Asperger husbands
- Talk about how you would like to connect with each other – go for a walk; watch a show on television; listen to music, etc
- Talk about weekend expectations – if he’s up for it great; if not, go on and do them without him
- Have a supportive group of friends you can see monthly
- Treat yourself to a “self-care” day
- Don’t neglect your passion – if you don’t have one….find one!
As a Marriage and Family Therapist and wife of an Asperger husband who has managed the feelings of loneliness, I share my insight, positive attitude and strategies for successful relationships. As a Certified Neurodiverse Couples Counselor, I specialize in working with couples where one partner has Asperger’s, AS and the other is Neurotypical, NT. Together they learn to accept each other’s different approaches to life and find ways to overcome their problems and misunderstandings.
For more information on overcoming loneliness with your Asperger husband please call me at (858) 735-1139 or go to my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com