Halloween With My Asperger Husband

Halloween With My Asperger Husband. Before we understood my husband was on the autism spectrum he displayed some odd behavior. During the beginning of our marriage this odd behavior was challenging in that his communication was a bit hit and miss. Because I love and care about him I just thought he was peculiar in a “geek” kind of way. He is quite cerebral so his IQ is so much higher than his EQ (emotional quotient). IQ tests measure your ability to solve problems, use logic, and grasp or communicate complex ideas. EQ is important for emotional connection because without it couples can feel like they are roommates rather than romantic partners.

Halloween With My Asperger Husband

During Halloween I noticed my husband felt comfortable in his costume of choice. It was somewhat of an alter ego where he could comfortably behave as the character he was dressed up as. Asperger’s and comorbidity of anxiety and depression can make social situations very taxing. As easy as it is for us neurotypicals to engage in conversation, asking questions of my husband is like a deer in front of headlights.  It is nerve racking and uncomfortable.

In costume my husband could feel free to express his feelings as being in character felt safer than being himself. He tends to feel awkward in most situations and appears quiet and antisocial. As a pirate he can become animated and sound like Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean. As a cowboy from Toy Story he comes to life as Tom Hank’s character Woody. As a gangster he takes on the enigmatic persona of a powerful ladies man. I love Halloween because it gives my husband the opportunity to strut some of his emotional intelligence. And I find that very sexy.

When I need him to behave in a certain way for particular social situations I tell him to get into the Jack Sparrow character, or the cowboy Woody. When I want him to be mysterious and assertive in the romantic arena I suggest he behave like the gangsters from The Godfather. Some of you may think this is strange but it works for us. Every year we look forward to selecting new costumes and acting out the roles of each. It’s fun, but more importantly, it can be a great tool for someone on the spectrum when needing to know how to behave.

When the costumes are put away for another year they may be in storage, but are still utilized as useful tools in helping my husband not only in social situations, but, in our day to day interaction to enable us to behave in a way that makes us feel less vulnerable.

When working with neurodiverse couples I help them put a systems in place, acquire tools for communication, learn to become more relational, and continue to coach them so both get what they need and want out of their relationship.

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

 

 

How Do You Know Your Husband Has Asperger’s?

How Do You Know Your Husband Has Asperger’s? Being married to a man with Asperger’s has its challenges. But, like anything else, there are strengths and weaknesses to every relationship. I’ve been married for over 20 years. The first 13 years were frustrating to say the least and I felt alone most of the time. My husband is a kind and generous man so I wondered why he could look and act like a jerk. There were times when he seemed thoughtless and showed no consideration or regard to my existence. Being a strong and confident person I developed Cassandra Syndrome aka Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome where I lost my sense of self. Not being seen or heard left me a shell of a person. My best seller on Amazon. “Happy Me Happy We: Six Steps To Know Yourself So You Know What You Want In A Relationship”

How Do You Know Your Husband Has Asperger’s?

I cried a lot, had major meltdowns where I ordered him out of the house and threatened divorce on a monthly basis. Of course, I never wanted a divorce or for him to leave. It was the fight/flight mode where being exhausted from fighting one fantasizes leaving. An acting out way of displaying emotions that most certainly undermines relationships. As the years went by the clinician in me, and my strong gut feeling said there is definitely something going on with his odd behavior.

We went to marriage counseling where we found no relief. As there were little resources to help Neurodiverse couples such as ourselves, I became Certified as a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor through the Asperger/Autism Network (AANE) to help those who are truly suffering in their relationships. Your Asperger husband wants to meet your needs and make you happy, but needs the tools to do so.

Here’s a checklist to see if your husband may have Asperger’s:

  • Conversations are fact based and more transactional than relational – doesn’t feel personal
  • Awkwardness in social situations you used to think was shyness but now appear strange
  • Memory problems
  • Time management issues
  • When it comes to sex he initiates in a childlike manner where it appears and feels awkward
  • Not able to show empathy
  • Incapable of validating your perspective
  • Seems thoughtless where the lack of consideration and regard for you can make you feel as though he doesn’t have your back
  • Family and friends say his behavior is odd and may not take a liking to him or they think he does not like them
  • Not able to console; lacks compassion
  • Has special interests like computers, astronomy, cars, etc.
  • Sensitivity to loud sounds, light, crowds, and certain types of clothing
  • Can appear selfish and/or Narcissistic

As it is a Spectrum the combination of characteristics will vary from one individual to the next. Typically, adults with Asperger’s feel a sense of relief once they receive a diagnosis. Because it is a Spectrum I don’t like placing a label as much as I want to help them acquire tools for communication and becoming more relational. My husband felt that sense of relief with his undiagnosed Asperger’s. It made a lot of sense and was the turning point in our marriage for moving forward.

I appreciate the ability to recognize, understand and treat Asperger’s as it pertains to relationships. I help couples put systems in place, acquire the necessary tools to be able to initiate conversation, share thoughts and feelings, and ask for what you need and want. I always loved my husband but now I can say I actually like him again.

For more information on developing a functional and harmonious relationship please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or at my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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’s Can Feel Like You’re Living With An Asshole

Asperger’s Can Feel Like You’re Living With An Asshole. “Ass”perger’s, is what I refer to it when I am consumed with a range of emotions I inappropriately “act out” when I am angry. Underlying emotions include disappointment, hurt, sadness and frustration. Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger’s, is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. I have been married to a man on the Spectrum for over 20 years.  I wanted to share what life looked and felt like before receiving an unofficial diagnosis. Unofficial in that for a formal diagnosis, clinician’s would need the person in question’s developmental/childhood history. Asperger’s has only received much attention the past few decades. Asperger’s Can Feel Like You’re Living With An Asshole

Asperger’s Can Feel Like You’re Living With An Asshole
Asperger’s (also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder) was first described in the 1940’s by Viennese pediatrician Hans Asperger, who observed autism-like behaviors and difficulties with social and communication skills in boys who had normal intelligence and language development. Asperger’s Can Feel Like “Ass”perger’s in that the behavior can be odd and resemble what looks like jerk-behavior.
Growing up in the 1950’s Asperger’s wasn’t as well known as Autism. My husband’s mother was a registered nurse and never suspected her son of Autism. The term Autism Spectrum Disorder wasn’t even a diagnosis until 2013. In those days you were either autistic or not autistic. Clinicians have found there is a “spectrum” where symptoms vary across different individuals, ranging in type and severity.

On some level my mother-in-law knew there was something odd about her little boy but did nothing to pursue any kind of diagnosis. Come to find out, from my husband, his older brother (4 years older) was on the spectrum. He noticed his brother would rock from side to side each night….soothing himself to sleep. He didn’t think much of it as a child, but as he has accepted and appreciates his unofficial diagnosis he believes his brother was in fact on the spectrum, as well. His brother died at the age of 42 as a result of an aircraft accident. I never knew him. My husband shares information about his brother that leads me to believe he had Asperger’s. His brother was a highly intelligent and high functioning individual. He was brilliant in the field of Organic
Chemistry. He had high aspirations of becoming an astronaut and politician. His Asperger’s hindered him from obtaining his Ph.D as his temperament was challenging to his doctorate program evaluators.

BEING AUTISTIC DOESN’T MAKE YOU A JERK but the odd behavior can appear like they are clueless and socially inept. Asperger’s Can Feel Like You’re Living With An Asshole

Asperger’s behavior could look like Asshole behavior:

  • If you think you’re better than other people or don’t care about their feelings, you’re just a jerk.
  • If you continually point out that you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re just a jerk.
  • If you insist that other people adapt themselves to you at all times, instead of compromising or making any effort to adapt yourself, you’re a jerk and manipulative and possibly toxic to those around you.
  • If you live in a black and white world and anyone who sees a little grey gets a verbal slap from you, you’re a jerk.
  • If you always have to be right because you can’t admit to being wrong or less than fully informed, you’re an insufferable jerk.
  • If you think being smarter than someone gives you the right to be mean to them, belittle them, or ignore their humanity, you’re an asshole.

Asperger’s Can Feel Like You’re Living With An Asshole

Life with my husband can look like some of the above. There are days when I am beside myself and call him an asshole but reframe and say it’s asshole behavior. Because I know he is not unkind, thoughtless, or stupid I can appreciate his efforts in trying to interact with me. Life with an Asperger’s husband is just as challenging as when there is a physical handicap. Bottom line, a successful life with a man on the spectrum includes putting a system in place, acquiring tools, and learning a process in which to become more relational. There’s a learning curve. It’s not easy, but what do you have to lose? You get what you put into anything that is worth having.

For more information please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or through my website 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