Valentine’s Day With My Asperger Husband

Valentine’s Day With My Asperger Husband. I use the word “Asperger” in the most endearing way despite the DSM-5 making the change to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). What distinguishes Asperger’s Disorder from classic autism are its less severe symptoms and the absence of language delays. Many professionals believed Asperger’s was a more mild form of autism, leading to the origin of the phrase “high-functioning.”

Valentine’s Day With My Asperger Husband

Valentine’s Day is a holiday when lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts. The holiday has expanded to express affection between relatives and friends. Being married to my husband for over 20 years I’ve had the pleasure and heartache of the some nice and not so nice Valentine’s Day. Prior to recognizing my husband’s Asperger’s the not so nice Valentine’s Days were filled with disappointment and hurt. Similar to Holidays and gift giving occasions, Valentine’s Day could hurt the most because of the symbolism of it all. Notwithstanding the commercial hype of this day, Valentine’s Day represents expression of love.

In working with neurodiverse couples, nuerology matters. I emphasize the need to explicitly communicate what is needed and wanted. Neurodiverse couples not only speak different languages and process information differently, having polarized perspectives. Both perspectives are correct but how do you manage conflict in relationships? Being able to make your intentions and expectations clear enables effective communication.

That being said, the not so great Valentine’s Days’ did not meet my expectations. They didn’t meet my expectations because I didn’t state them. I relied on my husband to make plans and in him doing so, thinking much different from me, he missed the target. I wasn’t looking for epic greatness, however, recognizing the day and being thoughtful about it by saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day” without me having to remind him would have been a good thing.

Whether holidays, special occasions, planning your weekend, planning your week, it’s helpful to talk about what the expectations are so the two of you can have a discussion about it. As a certified neurodiverse counselor and coach, I help couples understand meanings and motives behind their behavior. The behavior of someone on the spectrum can appear and feel selfish, inconsiderate and rude but often times there is no malicious intent.

Neurodiverse couples counseling/coaching is very different from traditional marriage counseling. I work with couples through neurological lens and help translate for one another so both can feel seen and heard. Being able to show empathy and validation is key to any relationship and acquiring tools to do that is key to successful partnerships.

Contact me at (858) 735-1139 or visit my website at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com for more information about acquiring those tools.

 

Asperger’s And Intimacy

Asperger’s And Intimacy. Again, for those new to my Blog, I use the word “Asperger/Aspie” in a fond way with no demeaning label. Intimacy in a relationship is a feeling of being close, emotionally connected and supported. Being able to share a range of thoughts, feelings and experiences that involves both physical and emotional intimacy makes for a content romantic relationship. In my work with neurodiverse couples, it makes all the difference in moving forward when their sex lives are good. Being married to someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has many challenges. But I find with good sex lives, just like couples who aren’t on the Spectrum, makes for good long term results.

Asperger’s And Intimacy

Jennifer and Jerry have been married for 21 years. For the first 10 years Jennifer thought her husband was not showing her the attention she wanted. When they were dating he was shy and she thought it was endearing. He’s a brilliant man but lacked in social graces and fell short when it came to planning romantic outings. When it came to sex she noticed whenever he was interested he acted like a shy teenage boy making jokes to deflect intimacy. His physical approach to her was awkward if not clumsy and when going for her breasts he would grab them in such a way that she found it a turn off. Ok, there’s cute, then there’s “what’s up with that move?”

Sex is a hard topic to talk about whether you’re married to someone on the spectrum or not. In closed family systems members seldom talk about feelings, let alone sex. In neurodiverse relationships, it can be even harder to communicate because of the language difference. Sex is full of nonverbal cues that can be misunderstood. A wide range of emotions to a partner on the spectrum can be challenging as sensory triggers such as touch, smell, taste and sound can be overwhelming.

Sex is important in healthy relationships. Sex doesn’t necessarily have to be intercourse. Lying in bed hugging with or without clothes, kissing, touching, erotic massage and using sex toys are forms of giving and receiving pleasure. Oral sex can be a challenge due to sensory triggers but doesn’t necessarily have to be ruled out.

Maxine Aston (2001) in her study of Asperger’s and sexual intimacy found that fifty percent of Asperger’s (AS) and neurotypical (NT) couples had no sexual activity within their relationship. In fact, “there was no affection or tactile expression whatsoever.”

Tony Attwood notes, “one of the characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome can be emotional and social immaturity.” Rather than experiencing sex as an emotionally compatible act, AS-NT couples frequently experience themselves playing out, by necessity, parent-child roles which kills any chance of sexual arousal.

Is there any hope for couples in which one partner has Asperger’s? Yes, of course.  If both partners are motivated to change, then they can have a more satisfying sex life, one that makes each partner feel wanted and accepted. But a satisfying sex life generally starts outside the bedroom.  Partners first need to educate themselves about Asperger’s so that they can understand how it is affecting their intimate relationship. The best indicator for a good sex life is being able to communicate. Being able to initiate conversation, share thoughts and feeling, and ask for what you need and want is effective communication.

Sensate focus activities may also be helpful in slowing down both partners so that they can concentrate on what feels good, instead of on performance. Learning to give verbal feedback about sex without creating defensiveness is another valuable skill. Being realistic about what may or may not change in the bedroom is another facet of acceptance of the diagnosis of Asperger’s.

For more information about Asperger’s and sexual intimacy contact me at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com or call me at (858) 735-1139.

 

Need Asperger Relationship Tips?

Need Asperger Relationship Tips? I’ve been married to a man with Asperger’s for 23 years. The first 13 years were consumed with frustration, heartache, and thoughts of whether I should stay or leave the marriage. The symptoms I experienced are what is known as Cassandra Syndrome or Ongoing Traumatic Relationship syndrome. This is my second marriage and I had some serious doubts about its ability to survive let alone thrive. As a Marriage and Family Therapist and relationship counselor, I believe we all are on the Spectrum to some degree. Some more so than others which creates a major communication problem for neurodiverse couples.

Need Asperger Relationship Tips?

There are strengths and weaknesses in all marriages. But living with an Asperger husband is challenging. There are good days. There are bad days. It all depends on whether the communication is being processed and received. As a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor certified by Autism/Asperger Network AANE, I help couples recognize, understand and treat the overt and covert ways of communicating. Asking for what we need and want and sharing thoughts and feelings are easier said than done, but in a neurodiverse relationship both partners speak a different language and therefore, need to learn each other’s language.

To create the desire to want to grow old with your Asperger husband I recommend some of the following tips:

  • Pursue a diagnosis; even if the diagnosis is not formal. (My husband appreciated the informal diagnosis as he was able to put a name to the problem that he was experiencing all his life)
  • Understand how AS impacts the individual. (Education and counseling can do that)
  • Manage depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. (Sometimes medication can manage that)

  • Self-exploration and self-awareness
  • Create a Relationship Schedule. (When you know what to expect anxiety decreases)
  • Meet each other’s sexual needs. (Talk about what you like in and out of the bedroom)
  • Cope with sensory overload and meltdowns. (My husband needs a lot of time alone – quiet time- so he can recharge and re-engage with me)
  • Expand Theory of Mind – limited ability to “read” another person’s thoughts, feelings, or intentions. (Talk about expectations and what they look like so there are minimal surprises which increase anxiety)
  • Improve communication. (Learn to speak each other’s language by acquiring tools the tools I know are effective)
  • Manage expectations and suspending judgment.
  • Co-parenting strategies. (Put a system in place which includes who does what with the children and on what day)

Need Asperger Relationship Tips?

Because every couple is different and have their unique set of circumstances I provide other resources for stability and harmony. An indicator a neurodiverse relationship can survive is the Asperger husband’s willingness to learn from couples counseling and providing effort while the neurotypical wife manages her emotions about the process in appropriate ways. Meaning she doesn’t act out her impatience, frustration, resentment, and anger in ways that negatively reinforce her husband’s effort.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. Call me and see how communication can become your new realty.

Neurology Matters in Couples Therapy

Neurology Matters in Couples Therapy.  If you are married to someone on the Autism Spectrum traditional couples counseling will not help.  My husband has Asperger’s.  We have been married for over 20 years.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I always knew there was something off with the way my husband communicated.  I love my husband very much, but the first decade of our marriage was very challenging.  I “acted out” quite a bit as I came to understand I was suffering from Cassandra Syndrome. I don’t know how many times I threatened divorce.

Neurology Matters in Couples Therapy

We sought Marriage Counseling, however, our communication did not improve. My discouragement and frustration lead to more acting out behavior which wasn’t helping. What we needed were relational tools and education about how Neurodiverse couples (Asperger husband; Neurotypical wife) process information differently. The understanding was quite eye opening.

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, and Certified Neurodiverse Couples Counselor, I am able to effectively help 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

As a Therapist that works with Neurodiverse Couples, I normalize behavior that may be construed as odd and unkind. I know first hand how it feels to be a woman married to a husband on the Spectrum. With education, tools and adding levity to our sessions to difficult situational stories my couples present, we are able to develop and exercise more relational behavior to receive the emotional connection desired.

Many couples have spent thousands of dollars on therapy to no avail. They still feel disconnected, frustrated, and angry. No one wants a divorce. Couples have a lot invested in their relationships. Some have children, they have their history and resources that they want to keep intact. Neurodiverse couples can see the light at the end of the tunnel when they have the tools to communicate. Or as I like to say, tools to relate.

For more information about getting the right kind of counseling please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

If You’re Married To Someone On The Autism Spectrum

If You’re Married To Someone On The Autism Spectrum. My husband and I have been in a Neurodiverse Relationship for over 20 years.  It wasn’t until about 7 years ago that I realized he is on the Autism Spectrum.  Over the course of my marriage I experienced gradually losing my sense of self.  In the place of my former self emerged a person I barely recognized.  I was lonely, hurt and angry.  I felt isolated as my social connections gradually diminished.  Because my husband is a good man, I felt misunderstood when I talked about my problems.  I felt crazy and exercised a lot of “acting out” behavior that was hurtful to myself and others.

If You’re Married To Someone On The Autism Spectrum

What I was experiencing is referred to as “The Cassandra Syndrome.”

Being married to a man with Asperger’s, and working with Neurodiverse Couples, I understand and have come to appreciate people think and process information differently.  And sometimes these people enter relationships where the two think and process information so differently it makes communication challenging.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I work with couples using a Neurodiverse lens where traditional couples counseling is ineffective and often frustrating for the couple who come in for relief from their pain and suffering.

If You’re Married To Someone On The Autism Spectrum

People on the Spectrum feel criticized by some of the “labels” attached to them.   The Asperger’s and Autism Network (AANE’s) preferred the following terminology at this time.  They continue to examine and evaluate language use.

Preferred terms:
“Asperger/autism or similar profile”
“Neurodiverse/Neurodiversity” (not “neurodivergent”)
“on the autism spectrum” or “on the spectrum”
“Community member”

Please refrain from the following terms:
Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD
Asperger Syndrome, Asperger’s, or AS
Disorder
Disability or Disabled
High-functioning (or low-functioning) autism

Examples using preferred terms:

AANE works with individuals who have an Asperger/autism or similar autism spectrum profile.Society will will benefit from the different points of view neurodiversity brings to work and social settings.
We are proud to serve those on the autism spectrum in our work at AANE.
At AANE, our community members are children and adults with Asperger/autism profiles, their families and friends, and the professionals who work with those on the spectrum.

Individuals on the Spectrum have their own set of challenges.  When they enter into relationships that challenge is compounded by neurodiversity.  I act as an ASD/NT translator and my goal is to help both partners understand the world as seen from the other.
For more information please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

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