An Asperger Husband Shares His Thoughts

An Asperger Husband Shares His Thoughts. Having Asperger’s is embracing life the way it is. After a relational diagnosis from my wife, Sarah Ruggera, LMFT, who is a Certified Neurodiverse Couples Counselor, I felt a sense of relief. Everything made more sense and I no longer shy away from people and social situations. I’ve realized that I was the contributing force to most of our arguments. My wife always told me her meltdowns were in reaction to my Asperger’s. As a psychotherapist she is able to manage her emotions appropriately, however, due to what she was experiencing all these years (Cassandra Syndrome) she was lost in our world of neurodiversity.

I’m still semi detached from everyday emotions and still get wrapped up in my special interests, like computers and writing programs, nonfiction reading, and spending a lot of alone time.

I appreciate my wife and her efforts in enabling us to communicate more effectively with the tools she provides Neurodiverse Couples in her practice. She still has her meltdowns and can become impatient with me but she knows I don’t act that way on purpose as it’s how my brain is wired.

My thought process is still mostly reactive in that, if a situation A comes up I’m suppose to do B, but sometimes I should have done C instead, that’s when I get frustrated when I misread situations. Because I understand I have Asperger’s I am able to manage these types of situations as I ask questions sooner rather than later validating what I’m thinking opposed to what others are thinking and getting the clarity I need to better know what to do in those types of situations.

In moving forward, the most important thing is to be more relational with my wife as I put her through some tough times where she was talking divorce. She cared about me so much she invested the time and energy to get the help I need.  Because we didn’t receive much help in traditional couples counseling I’m amazed she had the initiative to become certified as a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor helping others who struggle like us.

So having Asperger’s was something I thought was a bad thing, actually turned into something good as the awareness put things in perspective. If you think you might be on the spectrum, or if anyone tells you they experience something “off” about you, get the help that’s out there. There’s no shame in doing that. I feel good about what all this did for me and my family.

For more information on Couples Counseling and getting a relational diagnosis contact Sarah Ruggera at (858) 735-1139.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?  Relationships are complex.  The skills we use to build and maintain personal relationships are innate and unlearned.  Others are acquired from our life experiences and role modeled from those around us.  Some relationships are healthy and functional.  Others are dysfunctional and/or abusive.  In the beginning of any new relationship the atmosphere is fun loving and fairly easy.  After the Honeymoon Stage people let their hair down and show us their true selves.  Sometimes those true selves are not appropriate partners. When deciding whether or not to stay or go ask yourself  “am I getting enough in this relationship to offset the pain of what’s wrong and what’s lacking to make grieving what I’m not getting worth my while? – Terry Real

Couples in healthy relationships have clear boundaries and mutual trust.  The Conflict Resolution Stage is where most couples stand the test of time.  With conflict resolution skills they are able to manage their differences without damaging their relationship.  We all have different perspectives.  If we can show empathy and validate our partner’s perspective, that not only shows you love and care for them, you have the maturity to obtain insight about others.

As a Marriage Counselor, I work with couples who have the capacity to see each other’s perspective and those who do not.  In acquiring the tools for effective communication the couple either moves forward or is stuck at an impasse where they seem unable to exercise the system put in place for conflict resolution.

When at an impasse an assessment is made to determine whether one or both partners can’t or won’t allow the tools to manage their conflict.  I see couples who keep themselves in vicious cycles because one refuses to accept the challenges of the other and remains in an unhealthy and unhappy situation.  When enough time goes by and there is seemingly no progress from the partner with little to no empathy for the other’s perspective one or both may decide to leave the relationship.

 

I work with many couples who need help deciding “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”  Through our counseling both have the opportunity to make an informed decision as they progress through their process or lack thereof  and that becomes the answer to that question.

For information in deciding to stay in your relationship or leave it please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

 

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.

Why I Work With Neurodiverse Couples

Why I Work With Neurodiverse Couples.  High functioning Asperger’s is receiving a lot of attention.  Asperger’s is a developmental disorder affecting the ability to effectively socialize and communicate.  With access to online dating, individuals on the autism spectrum are able to connect with people developing relationships that could lead to developing families.  Asperger’s/Autism is inherited so the need to provide services for Neurodiverse Couples is imperative.

With my husband Phil

Not all Marriage Counselors have the expertise to work with Neurodiverse Couples so often times neurodiverse couples come to see me as their last resort.  When a neurotypical woman (NT) is married to a man who has behaviors associated with Asperger’s, (neurodiverse; ND or Aspie; AS) she will most likely experience gradual lose of her sense of self and feel invisible.  A lonely and hurt former self emerges that she can barely recognize.  She experiences Cassandra Syndrome as she starts to feel crazy and misunderstood.

As a Marriage Counselor working with women married to Asperger men this story by Sarah Swenson, LMHC says a lot about what life becomes:  https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/married-with-undiagnosed-autism-why-women-who-leave-lose-twice-0420164

This article hits home for me because I am a neurotypical woman married to an Aspie husband.  As a Marriage Counselor, certified to work with AS/NT couples, my role is to be an AS/NT translator, with the goal of helping both partners understand the world as seen through a Neurodiverse Lens.  Conventional marriage counseling is ineffective as there are specific tools to help neurodiverse couples understand one another.

Being married to someone on the spectrum is a life-long challenge.  For more information about Neurodiversity and being able to move forward in your relationship, please contact me at (858) 735-1139.  I know I can help.