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

Loneliness With An Asperger Husband

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

 

Think Your Husband Has Asperger’s?

Think Your Husband Has Asperger’s? I’ve been married to my husband for over twenty years. From the beginning I thought he might be on the Spectrum as he displayed and exercised some odd behavior that negatively affected our interaction. We are all on the Autism Spectrum to some degree but those who suffer from the syndrome show signs of severe debilitation which affect social interaction, behavior and communication. What exactly is Asperger’s? Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder, characterized as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 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). 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.

Think Your Husband Has Asperger’s?

People with Asperger’s, affectionately known as Aspies, are high functioning, have no problem with basic speech, are quite capable and highly intelligent.

Common traits of Asperger’s include:

  • Not being thoughtful – despite any ill intent, the impact may appear rude or callous
  • Have memory problems – forgetful
  • Have a lack of theory of mind (Mindblindness) – incapable of putting themselves into someone else’s shoes – cannot conceptualize, understand or predict knowledge, thoughts, and beliefs, emotions feeling and desires, behavior, actions, and intentions of another person
  • Little self-awareness
  • Time management problems – lose track of time as they can become involved in restricted or special interests
  • Have a narrow range of interests – hyper-focused on one (often very specific) hobby
  • Show little to no empathy

  • Have sensory problems – sensitive to light, loud sound, skin to some clothing, smell and taste sensitivities
  • Repetitive behaviors – they like routine, have little tolerance for change, inflexible
  • Struggle for small talk
  • Limited relational skills
  • Conversations can be one-sided
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Have awkward moments and mannerisms
  • Little eye contact
  • Childlike (naive) behavior when initiating sex

As a Marriage Counselor married to a husband with Asperger’s, I work with Neurodiverse Couples (a couple where one partner has Asperger’s; AS and the other does not, referred to as the Neurotypical; NT) to help them recognize, understand and treat focusing on problem-solving, developing coping strategies, acquiring relational and communication skills to put a system in place that works for both.

My husband is a kind, generous and intelligent man. I didn’t want to leave the relationship so I educated myself on Autism Spectrum Disorder (Asperger’s) and acquired coping skills to manage the emotions that come from living with a partner who has limited relational skills. I’m a very social, loud, and outgoing person. My extrovert personality is a strength that became damaged as I was suffering from Cassandra Syndrome. Feelings that led to losing my sense of self. As traditional marriage counseling is ineffective, I empowered myself by becoming certified through the Asperger’s/Autism Network (AANE) as a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor. I see couples through a neurodiverse lens helping them to recognize, understand and put systems in place for effective communication, as well as feeling more emotionally connected.

For more information on Asperger’s and whether or not your husband may have it, please call me at (858) 735-1139 or visit my website at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com