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

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.

Is Your Husband On The Spectrum?

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