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

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

Think Your Husband Has Asperger’s?

Think Your Husband Has Asperger’s? I know mine does. Yours may too. What exactly is Asperger’s? Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder characterized as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that impairs development in communication, social interaction, and behavior. The precise causes of autistic disorders have not been identified, although an inherited (genetic) component is believed to be involved. Supporting this idea is the fact that Asperger’s syndrome has been observed to run in families. Based on my clinical observations of my husband and his parents, he may have inherited it from one or both of them.

Think Your Husband Has Asperger’s?
  • Is your husband not thoughtful?
  • Is he forgetful?
  • Does he appear to have no self-awareness?
  • Tends to be late all the time?
  • Shows little to no Empathy?
  • Seems Antisocial?

I‘ve been married to my husband for twenty years and from the beginning, I thought he might be on the spectrum.  We all are to a certain 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).

 

 

 

20 years ago I met and fell in love with a kind, generous, and intelligent man. Often quiet in his demeanor and less animated than myself, my friends thought we were an unlikely match. I know now what I didn’t realize then is the comments made about my husband’s behavior offended some and made others feel uncomfortable. As the years went by I started to observe and experience a dynamic between us that consequently lead to feelings of loneliness, frustration, and irritability. He behaved in ways that were almost hurtful and rude.

 

Situations I now understand:

  • We were in Bora Bora on our Honeymoon. After a long flight, we were escorted to our beautiful over-the-water bungalow. As we were settling in I heard a knock at the door where room service brought my husband a refreshing Mai Tai cocktail. I asked where mine was and he said he didn’t order me one. I thought that was strange and nicely called him out on it. He said he didn’t think to ask me. (Aspie’s are often time not thoughtful)
  • When our daughter was 5 years old he forgot to pick her up from school after being reminded several times. (Memory problem)
  • Whenever I had a conversation with him he wasn’t able to show empathy and continued to talk about what was of interest to him. (Lack of Theory of Mind or Mind Blindness)
  • He could go on and on about a topic that was of interest to him and fail to recognize facial expressions denoting I was becoming uninterested or even bored. (No self-awareness)
  • He can go MIA (missing in action) for long periods of time working on his computer and not realize it and is often times late. (Time management problem)
  • I made a lovely Brunch one day and when we sat at the table to enjoy it he didn’t talk much and appeared troubled. I asked him later what was up as I was angry, more hurt, actually as I and was expecting him to appreciate my efforts. He later told me the sun was brightly shining and hurt his eye. (Sensory Issues)

 

As I didn’t want a divorce I started to educate myself on this syndrome and acquired coping skills to manage my emotions more appropriately, while getting my husband the tools he needed to be more relational. We acquired a process and put systems in place for better communication. With the commitment to moving forward, I can honestly say I am so much happier. There was never any doubt I loved him but the Asperger’s was making for too many challenges to want to stay. 

 

For more information on being able to move forward with your Aspie husband please contact me at (858) 735-1139. I know I can help.