Strategies For Making An Asperger Marriage Work

Strategies For Making An Asperger Marriage Work. Just like anything else, if you want a favorable outcome put a system in place that includes acquiring communication tools, implementation of a process using those tools, and an open mind putting in the effort. In my own neurodiverse marriage I have done just that. As a certified neurodiverse couples counselor/coach I put individualized systems in place where moving forward is possible. Traditional marriage counseling is not effective and can sometimes be detrimental for good prognosis. Strategies can help build meaningful relationships and develop emotional connectedness so communication is less transaction and more relational.

Strategies For Making An Asperger Marriage Work

14 Strategies courtesy of Asperger/Autism Network (AANE)

  • Pursuing a diagnosis;
  • Accepting the diagnosis;
  • Staying motivated;
  • Understanding how AS impacts the individual;
  • Managing depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder;
  • Self-exploration and self-awareness;
  • Creating a Relationship Schedule;
  • Meeting each other’s sexual needs;
  • Bridging parallel play;
  • Coping with sensory overload and meltdowns;
  • Expanding Theory of Mind;
  • Improving communication;
  • Co-parenting strategies;
  • Managing expectations and suspending judgment.

Strategies For Making An Asperger Marriage Work

All of the steps and strategies described can be addressed in neurodiverse couples counseling. In my own marriage these strategies help both my AS husband and myself gain awareness of our own individual patterns of behavior, and learn how they can make both attitudinal and behavioral adjustments to get more out of our relationship. As a neurodiverse couples counselor, I facilitate conversations and help both partners learn better communication skills. I addition, I help couples brainstorm, strategize, connect emotionally, and problem-solve around sensory integration issues, meltdowns, and co-morbid conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as talk about sexual needs.

While many of the issues and challenges that some couples in an AS marriage face can seem similar, it is important to remember that every individual with AS is different, and each marriage unique. Not all of these strategies will be equally effective for or apply to everyone. Each couple has to brainstorm and trouble-shoot their marriage based on what works for their unique situation and needs. As in any marriage, the key practices for anyone seeking a happy and loving relationship are awareness, understanding, compassion, connection, respect, passion, and trust.

For more information about making your asperger marriage work contact me at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com or call me at (858) 735-1139.

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day With My Asperger Husband

Valentine’s Day With My Asperger Husband. I use the word “Asperger” in the most endearing way despite the DSM-5 making the change to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). What distinguishes Asperger’s Disorder from classic autism are its less severe symptoms and the absence of language delays. Many professionals believed Asperger’s was a more mild form of autism, leading to the origin of the phrase “high-functioning.”

Valentine’s Day With My Asperger Husband

Valentine’s Day is a holiday when lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts. The holiday has expanded to express affection between relatives and friends. Being married to my husband for over 20 years I’ve had the pleasure and heartache of the some nice and not so nice Valentine’s Day. Prior to recognizing my husband’s Asperger’s the not so nice Valentine’s Days were filled with disappointment and hurt. Similar to Holidays and gift giving occasions, Valentine’s Day could hurt the most because of the symbolism of it all. Notwithstanding the commercial hype of this day, Valentine’s Day represents expression of love.

In working with neurodiverse couples, nuerology matters. I emphasize the need to explicitly communicate what is needed and wanted. Neurodiverse couples not only speak different languages and process information differently, having polarized perspectives. Both perspectives are correct but how do you manage conflict in relationships? Being able to make your intentions and expectations clear enables effective communication.

That being said, the not so great Valentine’s Days’ did not meet my expectations. They didn’t meet my expectations because I didn’t state them. I relied on my husband to make plans and in him doing so, thinking much different from me, he missed the target. I wasn’t looking for epic greatness, however, recognizing the day and being thoughtful about it by saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day” without me having to remind him would have been a good thing.

Whether holidays, special occasions, planning your weekend, planning your week, it’s helpful to talk about what the expectations are so the two of you can have a discussion about it. As a certified neurodiverse counselor and coach, I help couples understand meanings and motives behind their behavior. The behavior of someone on the spectrum can appear and feel selfish, inconsiderate and rude but often times there is no malicious intent.

Neurodiverse couples counseling/coaching is very different from traditional marriage counseling. I work with couples through neurological lens and help translate for one another so both can feel seen and heard. Being able to show empathy and validation is key to any relationship and acquiring tools to do that is key to successful partnerships.

Contact me at (858) 735-1139 or visit my website at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com for more information about acquiring those tools.

 

Asperger’s And Intimacy

Asperger’s And Intimacy. Again, for those new to my Blog, I use the word “Asperger/Aspie” in a fond way with no demeaning label. Intimacy in a relationship is a feeling of being close, emotionally connected and supported. Being able to share a range of thoughts, feelings and experiences that involves both physical and emotional intimacy makes for a content romantic relationship. In my work with neurodiverse couples, it makes all the difference in moving forward when their sex lives are good. Being married to someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has many challenges. But I find with good sex lives, just like couples who aren’t on the Spectrum, makes for good long term results.

Asperger’s And Intimacy

Jennifer and Jerry have been married for 21 years. For the first 10 years Jennifer thought her husband was not showing her the attention she wanted. When they were dating he was shy and she thought it was endearing. He’s a brilliant man but lacked in social graces and fell short when it came to planning romantic outings. When it came to sex she noticed whenever he was interested he acted like a shy teenage boy making jokes to deflect intimacy. His physical approach to her was awkward if not clumsy and when going for her breasts he would grab them in such a way that she found it a turn off. Ok, there’s cute, then there’s “what’s up with that move?”

Sex is a hard topic to talk about whether you’re married to someone on the spectrum or not. In closed family systems members seldom talk about feelings, let alone sex. In neurodiverse relationships, it can be even harder to communicate because of the language difference. Sex is full of nonverbal cues that can be misunderstood. A wide range of emotions to a partner on the spectrum can be challenging as sensory triggers such as touch, smell, taste and sound can be overwhelming.

Sex is important in healthy relationships. Sex doesn’t necessarily have to be intercourse. Lying in bed hugging with or without clothes, kissing, touching, erotic massage and using sex toys are forms of giving and receiving pleasure. Oral sex can be a challenge due to sensory triggers but doesn’t necessarily have to be ruled out.

Maxine Aston (2001) in her study of Asperger’s and sexual intimacy found that fifty percent of Asperger’s (AS) and neurotypical (NT) couples had no sexual activity within their relationship. In fact, “there was no affection or tactile expression whatsoever.”

Tony Attwood notes, “one of the characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome can be emotional and social immaturity.” Rather than experiencing sex as an emotionally compatible act, AS-NT couples frequently experience themselves playing out, by necessity, parent-child roles which kills any chance of sexual arousal.

Is there any hope for couples in which one partner has Asperger’s? Yes, of course.  If both partners are motivated to change, then they can have a more satisfying sex life, one that makes each partner feel wanted and accepted. But a satisfying sex life generally starts outside the bedroom.  Partners first need to educate themselves about Asperger’s so that they can understand how it is affecting their intimate relationship. The best indicator for a good sex life is being able to communicate. Being able to initiate conversation, share thoughts and feeling, and ask for what you need and want is effective communication.

Sensate focus activities may also be helpful in slowing down both partners so that they can concentrate on what feels good, instead of on performance. Learning to give verbal feedback about sex without creating defensiveness is another valuable skill. Being realistic about what may or may not change in the bedroom is another facet of acceptance of the diagnosis of Asperger’s.

For more information about Asperger’s and sexual intimacy contact me at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com or call me at (858) 735-1139.

 

Asperger Marriage

Asperger Marriage. Asperger marriages are also known as Neurodiverse Relationships. Where one partner is on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), typically the husband (AS) and the wife neurotypical (NT). In my own marriage, my husband is the AS partner and I am the NT partner. People with traits of AS have always been around, either misdiagnosed, undiagnosed, or labeled “odd” in behavior. Marriages with a person with AS are often very challenging, with mental health consequences for both partners, for their children, and for their extended family systems. Neurodiverse couples counseling (coaching) views partnerships thru a neurological lens. Education about AS, acquiring tools and putting a system in place with a counselor that specializes in neurodiverse couples enable the couple to become more communicative, but, more importantly, more relational which creates harmony and cohesiveness for moving forward. Traditional marriage counseling is ineffective and can sometimes be detrimental to the process.

Asperger Marriage

The mismatch of expectations, lifestyle, and needs tend to create misunderstanding, conflict, and unhappiness for both partners in the marriage. As an NT wife, I experienced feelings of frustration, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and much anger. Cassandra Syndrome is what a woman experiences after years of being married to a man with Asperger’s. 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. My acting out behavior included threatening divorce every other month, crying while yelling, excessive drinking, and insulting comments.

The AS husband may experience general anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive behavior (repetitive patterns of behavior), social anxiety and irritability. AS husbands are often observed as not being thoughtful, inconsiderate, selfish, narrow minded and sometime narcissistic. The primary diagnostic features cause significant impairment in important areas of functioning leading to challenges in their relationships. My husband’s anxiety and depression were exacerbated due to my acting out behavior.

In my professional and personal opinion the single best indicator for success (good prognosis) is both partners acquiring tools for moving forward meeting the needs and wants of each. The AS partner practices how to be more expressive, forthcoming, understanding of expectations while the NT partner manages her range of emotions in appropriate ways. Acting out behavior negatively reinforces effort on the AS partner’s part as he is already consumed with anxiety and fear.

Being in a neurodiverse relationship is similar to two people speaking different languages coming together and wanting to establish a life together. Learning each other’s language is imperative for communication. Learning how to do that is not rocket science. There is a learning curve but it’s worth the effort because neurodiversity makes for more interesting relationships.

For more information about Asperger Marriages please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or visit my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

 

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