Is Your Husband On The Spectrum?

Is Your Husband On The Spectrum?  Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is an Autism Spectrum Disorder – (ASD) and is part of a group of complex neurodevelopmental disorders.  All of us are on the spectrum to some degree but those who suffer from AS are severely debilitated with respect to social interaction, behavior, and communication?  People with Asperger’s, affectionately known as Aspies, are high functioning, have no problem with basic speech, and are quite capable and intelligent.

I’ve been married to Phil, my husband for twenty one years.  From the beginning, I suspected he might be on the spectrum.

Common traits of Asperger’s Syndrome include:

  1. Thoughtlessness.  The lack of consideration for others, while unintentional, may appear to be rude or callous.
  2. Forgetfulness.
  3. Mindblindness.  This is known as a lack of Theory of Mind, which is the inability to reflect on the contents of one’s own mind and the mind of others.  Those with AS are incapable of putting themselves “in someone else’s shoes.”  They cannot conceptualize, understand or predict the knowledge, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, feelings, and desires behavior, actions, or intention of another person.  This can create major barriers to communication and intimacy.
  4. Lack of self-awareness.
  5. Challenges with time management.  People with AS can become involved in restricted or special interests and, in so doing, lost track of time.
  6. Possess a narrow range of interests and can become hyper-focused on one, (often very specific,) hobby.
  7. Demonstrate little to no empathy.
  8. Heightened sensitivity to bright lights and, loud sounds.  Their skin and their sense of taste can also be very sensitive.
  9. Repetitive behavior.  People with AS are not flexible; they like their routines and have little tolerance for change.
  10. Difficulty making small talk.  Possess limited relational skills.
  11. Propensity for one-sided conversations.
  12. Difficulty making friends
  13. Possess awkward moments and mannerisms.
  14. Little eye contact.

One might wonder why anyone would want to be in a relationship with someone on the spectrum?  My husband is a kind, generous, and intelligent man and I love him very much.  But his Asperger’s presented some challenges for me early on in our relationship.  I invested in the two of us by learning everything I could about AS, acquired the coping skills needed to manage my emotions (see related article on the Cassandra Syndrome), and found tools to help my husband become more relational.  Today, we have several systems in place to foster communication, awareness, and meaningful interactions that work quite well.

If you are struggling with the challenges of a neurodiverse relationship, where you and/or your partner have an ASD, I’m confident I can help you out.  Being a Certified Neurodiverse Couples Counselor (AANE) I can develop successful coping strategies and relational skills to deepen and strengthen your relationship.

For more information on moving forward with your Aspie husband or wife, please contact me at (858) 735-1139.  I know I can help.

To Divorce Or Not To Divorce

To Divorce Or Not To Divorce. So You Think You Want A Divorce.  It doesn’t really matter how long you’ve been married. If your marriage is not a good working relationship with mutual respect who says you have to stay in it? Add abuse of any kind and wonder why individuals stay in relationships longer than they need to.  I’ve been a Marriage Counselor for over 25 years and still have compassion for those who need and want to leave their marriages for all the right reasons. Contemplating divorce is never an easy decision.  Even if you still love your spouse divorce can still be a viable option to your continued well being and happiness. Sometimes a relationship just runs its course.

As a Marriage Counselor, I see couples where one partner wants to preserve and repair the relationship and the other is leaning towards ending it.  It’s obviously agonizing for both parties as they want different outcomes.  In Marriage Counseling, options are discussed for moving forward.  Options can include:

  • Status quo – keeping things the same and being miserable
  • Move Forward with a plan specifically developed for you both. Implement for 6 montths
  • Discernment Counseling where we talk about what separation and/or divorce would look like and what that entails. Sessions involve mostly individual conversations along with sharing insight about what each partner is learning in these conversations.
  • Move on – Separation and divorce

Discernment counseling is appropriate when one partner wants to separate and the other wants to stay and work on the marriage.  It differs from traditional marriage counseling in three ways: 1) the goal is not to solve problems in the relationship, but to figure out whether the problems can be solved; 2) the process involves mainly individual conversations with each partner, since they each have different needs and agendas, and 3) it is always short term.

While in Discernment Counseling couples get the clarity they need to help them decide what they want from their relationship to be able to want to move forward.  I help them get a better understanding of what happened to their relationship and each other’s contribution to the problems.

Discernment counseling is time-limited and can be as brief as one session and as long as five sessions.  The couple decides each time whether to come back for a subsequent session. The sessions are usually 1.5- 2 hours long.  Whatever the decision I respect and help the couple move towards the option selected.

During my divorce from my first husband was difficult as we both still cared about one another. Understanding my options helped get the clarity I needed for moving on.

Wanting to work on your marriage or believing you need a divorce is a personal choice. For more information on whether or not you want to stay in your relationship please contact me at (858) 735-1139.