An Asperger Husband Shares His Thoughts

An Asperger Husband Shares His Thoughts. Having Asperger’s is embracing life the way it is. After a relational diagnosis from my wife, Sarah Ruggera, LMFT, who is a Certified Neurodiverse Couples Counselor, I felt a sense of relief. Everything made more sense and I no longer shy away from people and social situations. I’ve realized that I was the contributing force to most of our arguments. My wife always told me her meltdowns were in reaction to my Asperger’s. As a psychotherapist she is able to manage her emotions appropriately, however, due to what she was experiencing all these years (Cassandra Syndrome) she was lost in our world of neurodiversity.

I’m still semi detached from everyday emotions and still get wrapped up in my special interests, like computers and writing programs, nonfiction reading, and spending a lot of alone time.

I appreciate my wife and her efforts in enabling us to communicate more effectively with the tools she provides Neurodiverse Couples in her practice. She still has her meltdowns and can become impatient with me but she knows I don’t act that way on purpose as it’s how my brain is wired.

My thought process is still mostly reactive in that, if a situation A comes up I’m suppose to do B, but sometimes I should have done C instead, that’s when I get frustrated when I misread situations. Because I understand I have Asperger’s I am able to manage these types of situations as I ask questions sooner rather than later validating what I’m thinking opposed to what others are thinking and getting the clarity I need to better know what to do in those types of situations.

In moving forward, the most important thing is to be more relational with my wife as I put her through some tough times where she was talking divorce. She cared about me so much she invested the time and energy to get the help I need.  Because we didn’t receive much help in traditional couples counseling I’m amazed she had the initiative to become certified as a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor helping others who struggle like us.

So having Asperger’s was something I thought was a bad thing, actually turned into something good as the awareness put things in perspective. If you think you might be on the spectrum, or if anyone tells you they experience something “off” about you, get the help that’s out there. There’s no shame in doing that. I feel good about what all this did for me and my family.

For more information on Couples Counseling and getting a relational diagnosis contact Sarah Ruggera at (858) 735-1139.

Neurology Matters in Couples Therapy

Neurology Matters in Couples Therapy.  If you are married to someone on the Autism Spectrum normal couples counseling will not help.  My husband has Asperger’s.  We have been married for 21 years.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I always knew there was something off with the way my husband communicated.  I love my husband very much, but the first decade of our marriage was very challenging.  I “acted out” quite a bit as I came to understand I was suffering from Cassandra Syndrome.  I don’t know how many times I threatened divorce.

We sought Marriage Counseling, however, our communication did not improve.  My discouragement and frustration lead to more acting out behavior which wasn’t helping.  What we needed were relational tools and education about how Neurodiverse couples (Asperger husband; Neurotypical wife) process information differently.  The understanding was quite eye opening.

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, and Certified Neurodiverse Couples Counselor, I am able to effectively help Neurodiverse Couples:

  1. Identify root cause of issues through a Neurological lens
  2. Understand meltdowns in one or both partners and how to manage them
  3. By making an assessment using an Asperger’s profile in one of the partners
  4. Interpret for each partner what behavior means
  5. Acquire tools that initiate communication, express thoughts and feelings, and ask for what is needed
  6. Implement those tools
  7. Put systems in place for healthier and more effective interaction
  8. Understand and appreciate that both have their own perspectives and see things differently

As a Therapist that works with Neurodiverse Couples, I normalize behavior that may be construed as odd and unkind.  I know first hand how it feels to be a woman married to a husband on the Spectrum.  With education, tools and adding levity to our sessions and difficult situational stories my couples present, we are able to develop and exercise more relational behavior to receive the emotional connection desired.

For more information about getting the right kind of counseling please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

Vacation With An Asperger Husband

Vacation With An Asperger Husband. I recently took a vacation to Italy and wanted to share what travelling with a partner on the Spectrum looks like. To start off, I love my husband very much and we both have been working hard on maintaining a cohesive Neurodiverse Relationship. As mentioned in older posts his inability to be relational made me feel more like a group leader/organizer than a woman on vacation with her man in one of the most romantic places in the world.

In Tuscany with Phil

We visited Naples, Rome, Tuscany and Venice and during our down time from sightseeing he was on his phone listening to audio books which were of apparent interest to him. While napping in a Villa in Tuscany he was listening to his audio books as he did when I took a bubble bath in our Grand Canal view suite in Venice. Had I not been educated on Asperger’s and being married to a spouse on the Spectrum I would have experienced many melt downs which include being upset, yelling, ignoring, shaming, crying, and threatening the relationship. In the past I wouldn’t bring his behavior to his attention, rather, ignore it or make some excuse about why he isn’t more interactive. Because I do so now and share what it means to me I am able to manage my emotions more appropriately. He learns with each opportunity as I tell him exactly what I need and want in challenging situations. He appreciates my input and is mindful to adjust his behavior in meeting them.

Being married to someone on the spectrum can make you feel alone, lonely and invisible. Cassandra Syndrome shares more of these kinds feelings. To help manage these emotions it’s important to have a good sense of self and do things to overcompensate them. On vacation I like to carve out time to be by myself for a couple of hours. As a Marriage Counselor, I enjoy people watching and observing couples interacting within their own dynamic. Helps me get some perspective as all couples have their ups and downs.

It isn’t easy travelling with someone on the spectrum as most of the time you do all the work. As with anything life isn’t perfect and being married to an Asperger husband has it pros and cons. In conclusion the trip was fabulous. Due in part, to our understanding of our Neurodiversity and the two of us being able to express our expectations.

For more information on being married to someone on the spectrum and how to manage being in a Neurodiverse Relationship please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

 

If You’re Married To Someone On The Autism Spectrum

If You’re Married To Someone On The Autism Spectrum.  My husband and I have been in a Neurodiverse Relationship for the past 20 years.  It wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I realized he is on the Autism Spectrum.  Over the course of my marriage I experienced gradually losing my sense of self.  In the place of my former self emerged a person I barely recognized.  I was lonely, hurt and angry.  I felt isolated as my social connections gradually diminished.  Because my husband is a good man, I felt misunderstood when I talked about my problems.  I felt crazy and exercised a lot of “acting out” behavior that was hurtful to myself and others.

What I was experiencing is referred to as “The Cassandra Syndrome.”

Being married to a man with Asperger’s, and working with Neurodiverse Couples, I understand and have come to appreciate people think and process information differently.  And sometimes these people enter relationships where the two think and process information so differently it makes communication challenging.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I work with couples using a Neurodiverse lens where traditional couples counseling is ineffective and often frustrating for the couple who come in for relief from their pain and suffering.

People on the Spectrum feel criticized by some of the “labels” attached to them.   The Asperger’s and Autism Network (AANE’s) preferred the following terminology at this time.  They continue to examine and evaluate language use.

Preferred terms:
“Asperger/autism or similar profile”
“Neurodiverse/Neurodiversity” (not “neurodivergent”)
“on the autism spectrum” or “on the spectrum”
“Community member”

Please refrain from the following terms:
Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD
Asperger Syndrome, Asperger’s, or AS
Disorder
Disability or Disabled
High-functioning (or low-functioning) autism

Examples using preferred terms:

AANE works with individuals who have an Asperger/autism or similar autism spectrum profile.Society will will benefit from the different points of view neurodiversity brings to work and social settings.
We are proud to serve those on the autism spectrum in our work at AANE.
At AANE, our community members are children and adults with Asperger/autism profiles, their families and friends, and the professionals who work with those on the spectrum.

Individuals on the Spectrum have their own set of challenges.  When they enter into relationships that challenge is compounded by neurodiversity.  I act as an ASD/NT translator and my goal is to help both partners understand the world as seen from the other.
For more information please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?  Relationships are complex.  The skills we use to build and maintain personal relationships are innate and unlearned.  Others are acquired from our life experiences and role modeled from those around us.  Some relationships are healthy and functional.  Others are dysfunctional and/or abusive.  In the beginning of any new relationship the atmosphere is fun loving and fairly easy.  After the Honeymoon Stage people let their hair down and show us their true selves.  Sometimes those true selves are not appropriate partners. When deciding whether or not to stay or go ask yourself  “am I getting enough in this relationship to offset the pain of what’s wrong and what’s lacking to make grieving what I’m not getting worth my while? – Terry Real

Couples in healthy relationships have clear boundaries and mutual trust.  The Conflict Resolution Stage is where most couples stand the test of time.  With conflict resolution skills they are able to manage their differences without damaging their relationship.  We all have different perspectives.  If we can show empathy and validate our partner’s perspective, that not only shows you love and care for them, you have the maturity to obtain insight about others.

As a Marriage Counselor, I work with couples who have the capacity to see each other’s perspective and those who do not.  In acquiring the tools for effective communication the couple either moves forward or is stuck at an impasse where they seem unable to exercise the system put in place for conflict resolution.

When at an impasse an assessment is made to determine whether one or both partners can’t or won’t allow the tools to manage their conflict.  I see couples who keep themselves in vicious cycles because one refuses to accept the challenges of the other and remains in an unhealthy and unhappy situation.  When enough time goes by and there is seemingly no progress from the partner with little to no empathy for the other’s perspective one or both may decide to leave the relationship.

 

I work with many couples who need help deciding “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”  Through our counseling both have the opportunity to make an informed decision as they progress through their process or lack thereof  and that becomes the answer to that question.

For information in deciding to stay in your relationship or leave it please contact me at (858) 735-1139.