Is It Your Husband’s Autism Or Personality?

Is It Your Husband’s Autism Or Personality? When a couple is aware that their relationship is affected by autism it can be quite difficult to decipher what traits are caused by personality and what are due to being on the autistic spectrum. I’ve been married to a man with Asperger’s for over 20 years. During the first 13 years he displayed some behaviors that looked pretty much like he was being a jerk. His lack of consideration and thoughtfulness made him appear self-centered and self-serving. Not all differences are due to your partner being on the autism spectrum, and not all personality traits can be attributed to or blamed on autism.

Is It Your Husband’s Autism Or Personality?

I’m working with a couple whose Asperger (AS) husband is talkative with anyone and everyone. He is also quite flirtatious with the ladies. He flirts with waitresses, grocery store clerks, and women at the bank. He states he just wants to be personable and doesn’t mean anything bad by it. This bothers my neurotypical (NT) client (his wife) as it is a trigger for her due to trauma from past relationships where there was cheating. With tools they’ve acquired during counseling he shows her the empathy needed so she feels seen and heard. Some think people with Asperger’s have a difficult time with filter and being impulsive when interacting.

I have another client who discovered her Asperger husband had been having an affair for the past eight months. They were in counseling with me during that time which makes it even more horrific and disappointing for this neurotypical wife. Her husband states he thinks he’s a sex addict and manages his anxiety with other women. He blames his Asperger’s for his inappropriate behavior. I point out being unfaithful is not a trait caused by being on the spectrum.

Traits caused by being on the autism spectrum:

  • Highly focused
  • Single minded
  • Obsessive
  • Clumsy
  • Logical

  • Rigid/inflexible
  • Reactive to noise
  • Reactive to smell
  • Reactive to touch
  • Reactive to taste
  • Reactive to light
  • Pendantic

 

 

Traits not caused by being on the autism spectrum:

  • Flirtatious
  • Unfaithful
  • Inhibited
  • Frigid
  • Promiscuous
  • Verbally abusive
  • Boring
  • Reliable
  • Emotionally withdrawn
  • Withholding
  • Unsympathetic

  • Stingy
  • Unhygienic
  • Unkempt
  • Intuitive
  • Passionate
  • Irrational
  • Impulsive
  • Defensive
  • Critical
  • Opinionated
  • Religious
  • Political
  • An unloving parent
  • Forgetful
  • A loner
  • Generous
  • Extravagant

When a couple is aware that their relationship is affected by autism it can be quite difficult to decipher what traits are caused by personality and what are due to being on the autism spectrum. Not all differences are due to the partner being on the autism spectrum, and not all personality traits can be attributed to or blamed on autism. Knowing whether a trait is caused by having autism or personality is confusing for both in a relationship, especially the neurotypical partner. It’s confusing because everyone on the spectrum is different, that’s why they call it a spectrum. All will have their own unique personality with their own childhood history. We are products of our upbringing which has moulded who they are now and will have encouraged certain beliefs, behaviors, and opinions.

When working with neurodiverse couples in neurodiverse couples counseling, I emphasize any kind of abuse is not a trait of having Asperger’s. Sometimes bad behavior is just bad behavior and should never be tolerated. I work with the couple through a neurodiverse lens where I help them recognize, understand and treatment the problems in their relationship. When we are able distinguish what is an Asperger trait versus a personality trait, both can see more clearly where the work needs to be done.

For more information on neurodiverse couples counseling please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

Signs My Husband Has Asperger’s

Signs My Husband Has Asperger’s. What exactly is Asperger’s? Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder characterized as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that impairs development in communication, social interaction, and behavior. The precise causes of autistic disorders have not been identified, although an inherited (genetic) component is believed to be involved. Supporting this idea is the fact that Asperger’s syndrome has been observed to run in families. Based on my clinical observations of my husband and his parents, he may have inherited it from one or both of them. Does your husband ever display these types of behavior. I know mine does.

Signs My Husband Has Asperger’s

Signs My Husband Has Asperger’s:

  • Is your husband not thoughtful?
  • Is he forgetful?
  • Does he appear to have no self-awareness?
  • Tends to be late all the time?
  • Shows little to no Empathy?
  • Seems Antisocial?

My husband is a kind, generous, and intelligent man. We’ve been married for over 20 years. Often quiet in his demeanor and less animated than myself, my friends thought we were an unlikely match. I know now what I didn’t realize then is my husbands’s comments and behavior offended some and made others feel uncomfortable. As the years went by I started to observe and experience a dynamic between us that consequently lead to feelings of loneliness, frustration, and irritability. He behaved in ways that were almost hurtful and rude.

Situations I now understand:

  • We were in Bora Bora on our Honeymoon. After a long flight, we were escorted to our beautiful over-the-water bungalow. As we were settling in I heard a knock at the door where room service brought my husband a refreshing Mai Tai cocktail. I asked where mine was and he said he didn’t order me one. I thought that was strange and nicely called him out on it. He said he didn’t think to ask me. (Aspie’s are often times not thoughtful)

  • When our daughter was 5 years old he forgot to pick her up from school after being reminded several times. (Memory problem)
  • Whenever I had a conversation with him he wasn’t able to show empathy and continued to talk about what was of interest to him. (Lack of Theory of Mind or Mind Blindness)
  • He could go on and on about a topic that was of interest to him and fail to recognize facial expressions denoting I was becoming uninterested or even bored. (No self-awareness)
  • He can go MIA (missing in action) for long periods of time working on his computer and not realize it and is often times late. (Time management problem)
  • I made a lovely Brunch one day and when we sat at the table to enjoy it he didn’t talk much and appeared troubled. I asked him later what was up as I was angry, more hurt, actually as I was expecting him to appreciate my efforts. He later told me the sun was brightly shining and hurt his eye. (Sensory Issues)
  • Unable to show compassion. My dog was bitten by a rattlesnake and the Vet said he may not make it. (No motion to comfort me as I was breaking down crying)
  • Doesn’t like change. Our daughter was part of a carpool. When parents made changes to the schedule, which benefited my husband he would become aggravated and unappreciative.

As a Marriage Counselor who is married to someone on the spectrum, I work with Neurodiverse Couples (one partner has Asperger’s AS and the other does not, Neurotypical NT). Because I’ve lived with my AS husband for over 20 years, I am able to help women who suffer from what is referred to as Cassandra Syndrome where the NT partner experiences psychological trauma from attempting to have a close personal relationship with a person who has deficiencies in interpersonal relationships, in areas such as reciprocity, compassion, empathy, recognition of facial expressions, putting themselves in another’s shoes, and a constellation of features known as “mind blindness.”

During the first decade of our marriage, I was experiencing psychological and emotional distress. The daily trauma of living with an AS can best be described as ongoing traumatic relationship syndrome (OTRS) aka known as Cassandra Syndrome. Even if someone comes into a relationship with a strong sense of self-esteem, it can still be demolished by a partner who has difficulty showing empathy. During the years before we obtained an unofficial diagnosis, I was quite troubled. I was so unhappy I wanted to leave the relationship. I didn’t like the way I felt as I was acting out emotions where I was angry, unreasonable, hurtful and verbally abusive. There was either something terribly wrong with me or there was some psychological challenge with him.

As I didn’t want a divorce I started to educate myself on this syndrome and acquired coping skills to manage my emotions more appropriately, while getting my husband the tools he needed to be more relational. We acquired a process and put systems in place for better communication. With the commitment to moving forward, I can honestly say I am so much happier. There was never any doubt I loved him but the Asperger’s was making for too many challenges to want to stay. 

For more information on being able to move forward with your Aspie husband please contact me at (858) 735-1139. I know I can help.

Do You Suffer From Cassandra Syndrome?

Do You Suffer From Cassandra Syndrome? Cassandra Syndrome is what a woman experiences after years of being married to a man with Asperger’s. Women I see are desperate to feel a connection of some type within their marriages. Some couples have been married for years before they come across a possible Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) aka Asperger’s (AS). The term Cassandra comes from Greek mythology; Apollo gives Cassandra the gift of prophecy; the ability to foresee the future. Cassandra Syndrome is also referred to as Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome or Affective Deprivation Disorder and abbreviated as CADD, OTRS or AfDD. Cassandra is a debilitating condition that can lead to physical and psychological problems if not managed experiencing distress as a result of their emotional needs not being recognized, or met by their AS (autistic) partner.

Do You Suffer From Cassandra Syndrome?

As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and woman married to an Asperger husband, I suffered for 13 out of the 23 years of my marriage. The past ten years have been filled with hope and appreciation for one another as we acquired the tools necessary to become more relational. As traditional marriage counseling does not work, I became certified as a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor by the Autism/Asperger Network (AANE) to help Neurodiverse Couples get the help they need to make their marriages work. Cassandra tends to have a negative and blaming connotation to the Asperger husband. Asperger husbands don’t give their wives Cassandra symptoms, the symptoms manifest due to the lack connectedness between the couple. It is usually both a blessing and a relief when the wife (neurotypical spouse) learns about AS and feels she now has an explanation for her husband’s unusual behaviors. Asperger husbands also have feelings about their relationships. That’s for another article.

You may suffer from Cassandra if you:

  • Feel lonely in your marriage
  • Are frustrated, resentful, angry; feel guilt
  • Doing all the work in the relationship
  • Are self-medicating with alcohol
  • Are not sleeping well
  • Act out your emotions inappropriately looking like you’re a crazy person
  • Feel like you’re going crazy
  • Are eating too much or too little (weight changes)
  • Are always yelling at your husband and other family members
  • Have a loss of libido (sex drive)
  • Are Moody
  • Experiencing a lot more premenstrual tension
  • low self-esteem
  • Are having social problems
  • Experiencing incredible fatigue
  • Experiencing high level of anxiety
  • Depressed
  • Losing your sense of self (self identity)

Do You Suffer From Cassandra Syndrome?

For years I thought I was losing my mind, as well as my sense of self. I kept telling myself I was a licensed clinician trained to study human behavior and interpersonal relationships. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I started to see couples in my practice suffering from the same disconnectedness. I had empathy, as well as compassion for the “Neurotypical” wife. I related to what these women were saying. I read all I could read about Asperger’s and Asperger’s and relationships. I consulted with experts in the field in the United States and in England and finally came to the conclusion that my husband was on the Spectrum. We consulted with a psychologist who worked with Autistic individuals, but didn’t have the expertise in working with Neurodiverse Couples. We were frustrated for our relationship and disappointed realizing we were spending hundreds of dollars on marriage counseling that wasn’t working.

The most important indicator for success in neurodiverse couples is for the wife to be able to manage her emotions while the Asperger husband acquires tools to learn how to communicate with her in her language of neurodiversity. When the couple becomes stable enough to be able to initiate conversation, share thoughts and feelings, and ask for what is needed and wanted, can they move forward harmoniously.

I love my husband I wanted to help our relationship not only become relational and functional. I wanted it to thrive. As a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor, I work with couples all over the world to acquire tools needed for communication, put a system in place to implement, and get traction on becoming more relational. I coach to maintain stability. I use the tools I give out and can say the past 13 years have been successful….even thriving.

For more information about Cassandra Syndrome and neurodiverse couples counseling please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

 

 

 

Need Asperger Relationship Tips?

Need Asperger Relationship Tips? I’ve been married to a man with Asperger’s for 23 years. The first 13 years were consumed with frustration, heartache, and thoughts of whether I should stay or leave the marriage. The symptoms I experienced are what is known as Cassandra Syndrome or Ongoing Traumatic Relationship syndrome. This is my second marriage and I had some serious doubts about its ability to survive let alone thrive. As a Marriage and Family Therapist and relationship counselor, I believe we all are on the Spectrum to some degree. Some more so than others which creates a major communication problem for neurodiverse couples.

Need Asperger Relationship Tips?

There are strengths and weaknesses in all marriages. But living with an Asperger husband is challenging. There are good days. There are bad days. It all depends on whether the communication is being processed and received. As a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor certified by Autism/Asperger Network AANE, I help couples recognize, understand and treat the overt and covert ways of communicating. Asking for what we need and want and sharing thoughts and feelings are easier said than done, but in a neurodiverse relationship both partners speak a different language and therefore, need to learn each other’s language.

To create the desire to want to grow old with your Asperger husband I recommend some of the following tips:

  • Pursue a diagnosis; even if the diagnosis is not formal. (My husband appreciated the informal diagnosis as he was able to put a name to the problem that he was experiencing all his life)
  • Understand how AS impacts the individual. (Education and counseling can do that)
  • Manage depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. (Sometimes medication can manage that)

  • Self-exploration and self-awareness
  • Create a Relationship Schedule. (When you know what to expect anxiety decreases)
  • Meet each other’s sexual needs. (Talk about what you like in and out of the bedroom)
  • Cope with sensory overload and meltdowns. (My husband needs a lot of time alone – quiet time- so he can recharge and re-engage with me)
  • Expand Theory of Mind – limited ability to “read” another person’s thoughts, feelings, or intentions. (Talk about expectations and what they look like so there are minimal surprises which increase anxiety)
  • Improve communication. (Learn to speak each other’s language by acquiring tools the tools I know are effective)
  • Manage expectations and suspending judgment.
  • Co-parenting strategies. (Put a system in place which includes who does what with the children and on what day)

Need Asperger Relationship Tips?

Because every couple is different and have their unique set of circumstances I provide other resources for stability and harmony. An indicator a neurodiverse relationship can survive is the Asperger husband’s willingness to learn from couples counseling and providing effort while the neurotypical wife manages her emotions about the process in appropriate ways. Meaning she doesn’t act out her impatience, frustration, resentment, and anger in ways that negatively reinforce her husband’s effort.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. Call me and see how communication can become your new realty.

Date Night With My Aspie Husband

Date Night With My Aspie Husband. Date night is important for couples as it maintains emotional connection. Date night is challenging for some as the details of life, including parenthood, keep couples in a transactional rather than romantic relationship. Without regular bonding couples can become dreaded roommates. If you are in a neurodiverse relationship like myself, (neurotypical wife and Asperger Husband) date nights can be even more challenging as emotional connection is not a strength for someone on the Spectrum. Socializing in general is sometimes difficult for my husband and when the venue is especially loud his sensory issues can make him appear aloof and distant.

Date Night With My Aspie Husband

Before we knew about my husband’s Asperger’s date nights were not that enjoyable. We’d go to dinner, eat, have little conversation, and sometimes he’d be in a what looked to be a bad mood because of the noise or the waiter said something to which my husband would reply in a rude way. I am a social and personable person. I can banter with wait staff and bring humor to the interaction. My husband would appear matter of fact and couldn’t exchange pleasantries. I would become upset and think he wasn’t having a nice time during our time of bonding. I would keep the conversation going for many years during these dates and finally became very tired of keeping the proverbial “ball” in the air. Half the time we’d go on dates he wouldn’t get dressed up. He wear the same clothing he’d wear around the house indicating to me he lacked effort in preparing for our time together.

One time on our way to La Jolla Playhouse my mother commented as we dropped our daughter off for child care, at the way my husband was dressed compared to the way I was dressed. I was a little embarrassed and made excuses that he needed to feel comfortable. Come to find out people on the Spectrum have sensory issues which include touch and sound. T-shirts and jeans were the norm whether he went to the office, hung around the house, or going on a date. After awhile this became really old and I did not appreciate the lack of effort.

Years later when we came to understand and accept Asperger’s everything made sense. In developing our system to become more relational we talk about what we want and what we don’t want. We talk about what the expectations are for anything we are participating in. Dates included. He tends to plan the dates and sometimes I change those plans. He is more interested in me being happy and content so most of the time I suggest where we go and what we do. He dresses up so he looks attractive to me and I tell him how much I appreciate him and how hot he looks in certain attire. Positive feedback helps him want to be more relational. We still have challenges as we are not perfect. Being explicit with what we want and what it looks like really helps make for an enjoyable night out.

We also utilize tips for managing our relationship and use tools to be more conversational. After years of implementing these tools we have so much fun being together. He has learned how to keep the conversation going. As a marriage and family therapist specializing in neurodiverse couples counseling, I emphasis the fact that you will always have to ask questions and get clarity when needed and reframe from wanting him to read your mind. It never diminished a request just because you ask for it. Having Asperger’s is like speaking a different language. Learn to speak each other’s language and any situation, including date nights are welcomed.

For more information on Asperger Husbands, neurodiversity, making your date nights more enjoyable please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or go to my website CoupleCounselorSanDiego.com