Neurodiverse Marriage. A Neurodiverse relationship is used to describe intimate partnerships between one neurologically typical partner and one partner who is on the autism spectrum. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder. The term refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by impaired social interaction, and by repetitive behaviors or interests. ASD results in significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. As of 2013 Asperger’s is no longer a diagnosis on its own as it became part of a broader category called Autism Spectrum Disorder. Even though technically Asperger’s is no longer a category, it is still widely used. The condition is what professionals call “high-functioning” and refers to individuals who have above average intellectual abilities.
As a certified neurodiverse couples counselor, I typically see a husband with Asperger’s (AS) and the wife who is neurotypical (NT) making a neurodiverse marriage. Neurodiverse couples can be among the strongest partnerships. They are two brains in love. However, neurological differences present unique challenges, particularly related to communication.
- are not that uncommon
- can go for decades without fully understanding why their communication problems are so intractable.
- have difficulty finding a therapist who has training or awareness of how to work with neurodiverse relationships
- have universally recognized problem areas with social cues
- now estimated that 1 in 50- 60 Americans are on the Autism Spectrum
- according to a European study state 80% end in divorce which is nearly double the divorce rate for neurotypical (NT) couples
- have the most challenging deficit of having a Theory of Mind
- would benefit from the ability to listen non-defensively, validating their point of view, and show empathy while understanding their partner’s needs is fundamental
- have differences that can be assets, deficits, or a little of both
- recognize that a partner on the spectrum is often a huge relief and validates relationship concerns
Challenges can include:
- Time managment – enabling time together (for connection) and apart (for self-care and recharge)
- Parenting – learn how to leverage your neurodiverse strengths to parent your children (whether or not your children are neurodiverse)
- Special parenting – learn how to parent your neurodiverse children
- Sex – meeting each other’s sexual needs through managing different levels of libido, enhancing sexual communication, and addressing sensory issues
- Financial – understanding how each partner feels and thinks about money bridging any gaps
As I am in a nuerodiverse marriage, I understand the need for someone who is trained to work with spectrum relationships using a neurological lens. Neurology matters when working with neurodiverse couples. My Asperger husband and I utilize the tools and implement strategies I teach to help my couples effectively communicate and to become less transactional and more relational.
Having someone who can provide information and tools to navigate challenges in your neurodiverse marriage can be exactly what your relationship needs. For more information please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or visit my website at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com