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.

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

 

Asperger Husband – Tips To Stay Married

“From early childhood, people with Asperger’s syndrome are less likely to recognize and understand thoughts, beliefs, desires and intentions of other people in order to make sense of their behavior,” writes Tony Attwood. My husband is happy to do any job which needs doing. He runs errands, does household chores, repairs anything broken, assists our children or dog after an accident or brief illness. But when I slipped during a hike and fell to the ground and scrapped my knee, all he did was look at me and said, “you’d better get an alcohol wipe and band aid up that cut.” He made no attempt to comfort or help me.” I thought he was insensitive because if he was the one who got hurt I’d be showing him some empathy saying, “that scrape looked like it hurt.” There’s another time our dog got bit by a rattlesnake and the Vet said he might not make it. I cried like a baby in the examining room. My husband just sat there and looked at me. Didn’t come toward me to comfort me. I vividly remember shaking and hyperventilating I was crying so hard. Thank goodness my dog made it, but that was a most disturbing memory. He showed he cared by paying the $5,000 hospital bill. Again, as generous as that was, I could have used a hug and a kiss.  Asperger Husband – Tips To Stay Married.

Tips to help stay married to an Asperger husband:

  • Pursue a diagnosis; even if the diagnosis is not formal
  • Understand how AS impacts the individual
  • Manage depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Self-exploration and self-awareness
  • Create a Relationship Schedule
  • Meet each other’s sexual needs
  • Bridge parallel play
  • Cope with sensory overload and meltdowns
  • Expand Theory of Mind – limited ability to “read” another person’s thoughts, feelings, or intentions
  • Improve communication
  • Manage expectations and suspending judgment
  • Co-parenting strategies;

Asperger Husband – Tips To Stay Married

A skilled counselor, can help implement the suggested tips to able to gain awareness of the AS and NT’s own individual patterns of behavior, and learn how they can make both attitudinal and behavioral adjustments to become more relational with one another. A counselor can also facilitate conversations, and help both partners learn to be more relational. With acquiring tools for better communication, implementing a process utilizing the tools, and putting a system in place the couple will be able to connect emotionally, and problem-solve around sensory integration issues, meltdowns, and co-morbid conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Being in a neurodiverse relationship myself, I know first hand how difficult it can be to get the life you want given the situation at hand. Nothing changes if nothing changes. With any challenge if changes aren’t made to adjust and manage them there is poor prognosis for a long and happy life together.

For more information on managing your neurodiverse relationship, understanding Asperger’s and how it plays out in a relationship, or managing Cassandra Syndrome please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or go to my website at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

 

How I Survive An Asperger’s Marriage

How I Survive An Asperger’s Marriage. I’m a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I have worked with over 2,000 couples for 25 years. I am also married to a man with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). We have been married for 22 years. During the early years of my marriage I coped with indescribable hardship, communication and severe emotional deprivation without even suspecting my husband might be on the autism spectrum. The beginning of our marriage was challenging as we did not become aware of my husband’s Asperger’s until about 13 years into our marriage. I fell in love with my husband because of his kind and genuine nature. I always knew he was different in an odd kind of way but being a divorced single mother in the dating arena meeting a lot of narcissistic men, I thought his behavior at the time was refreshing. No drama, calm, agreeable, and he loved me. How I survive an Asperger’s marriage.
How I Survive An Asperger’s Marriage

Being married to a man with Asperger’s makes us a Neurodiverse couple. Meaning coupleships are comprised of one neurotypical  (NT) and one partner with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I’m the NT. There are pros and cons to every relationship. My husband’s most admirable traits are as a result of his disorder rather than in spite of it. That being said, I did experienced behavior that appeared not considerate or thoughtful. It made my husband look like he was only interested in getting what he wanted. This egocentricity (self-centeredness) is what some might call “ass hole” behavior. I knew he wasn’t behaving like an asshole on purpose, but, nevertheless, it looked and felt like asshole behavior to me. So much so I acted out my feelings in not so good ways. I would yell, criticize, cry, etc. and he would respond as if he hadn’t done anything wrong. He’s also forgetful and has poor time management skills when it comes to our relationship. Again, I know, he doesn’t do these things on purpose. He never has any ill intent. But you wouldn’t thinks so unless you understood Asperger’s and how it affects relationships.

So years of being on the receiving end of his odd behavior took a toll on my sense  of self. I ended up feeling lonely, disappointed, angry and very frustrated. I didn’t feel like my strong self for years. As a result, I was experiencing what  NT partners refer to as Cassandra Syndrome.

Neurology Matters in Couples Therapy. If you are married to someone on the Autism Spectrum normal couples counseling will not help.  A Neurodiverse Couples Counselor, is better equipped to work with Neurodiverse Couples:

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

Courtesy of  https://www.aane.org/neurodiverse-couples-institute/
How I Survive An Asperger’s Marriage:
  • Avoid talking down to your AS (autism spectrum) partner
  • Acceptance that life will be challenging
  • Take your AS partner at face value. In other words, don’t try to read too much into what they’re saying. …
  • Have your AS partner “reflective listen” back what you said so you know they understood you
  • Ask questions to get clarity
  • Be clear and specific about your expectations
  • Be explicit when asking for something
  • Be explicit when giving instructions
  • Get some relational tools for emotional connection and effective communication
  • Respect your AS partner’s need for down time
  • Manage Cassandra Syndrome – Have a well rounded life of your own. Work, hobbies, friends, etc.

Being married to an Asperger husband is quite challenging. If you don’t have a well rounded sense of self, positive attitude about your neurodiversity, and relational tools you may not choose to remain in the marriage for too long. More importantly, it might not be feasible for you to stay. Like with all challenges, nothing changes when nothing changes. Get the tools needed to make your marriage work. Just like everything else, effort and commitment is key.

For more information about neurodiverse couples, Asperger husbands, and surviving an Asperger’s marriage please contact me at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

Asperger Husband Shares His Thoughts

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.

Asperger Husband Shares His Thoughts

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.

Asperger Husband Shares His Thoughts

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 traditional couples counseling will not help.  My husband has Asperger’s.  We have been married for over 20 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.

Neurology Matters in Couples Therapy

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:

  • Identify root cause of issues through a Neurological lens
  • Understand meltdowns in one or both partners and how to manage them
  • By making an assessment using an Asperger’s profile in one of the partners
  • Interpret for each partner what behavior means

  • Acquire tools that initiate communication, express thoughts and feelings, and ask for what is needed
  • Implement those tools
  • Put systems in place for healthier and more effective interaction
  • 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 to difficult situational stories my couples present, we are able to develop and exercise more relational behavior to receive the emotional connection desired.

Many couples have spent thousands of dollars on therapy to no avail. They still feel disconnected, frustrated, and angry. No one wants a divorce. Couples have a lot invested in their relationships. Some have children, they have their history and resources that they want to keep intact. Neurodiverse couples can see the light at the end of the tunnel when they have the tools to communicate. Or as I like to say, tools to relate.

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

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