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.

Neurology Matters in Couples Therapy

Neurology Matters in Couples Therapy.  If you are married to someone on the Autism Spectrum normal couples counseling will not help.  My husband has Asperger’s.  We have been married for 21 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.

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:

  1. Identify root cause of issues through a Neurological lens
  2. Understand meltdowns in one or both partners and how to manage them
  3. By making an assessment using an Asperger’s profile in one of the partners
  4. Interpret for each partner what behavior means
  5. Acquire tools that initiate communication, express thoughts and feelings, and ask for what is needed
  6. Implement those tools
  7. Put systems in place for healthier and more effective interaction
  8. 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 and difficult situational stories my couples present, we are able to develop and exercise more relational behavior to receive the emotional connection desired.

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

Vacation With An Asperger Husband

Vacation With An Asperger Husband. I recently took a vacation to Italy and wanted to share what travelling with a partner on the Spectrum looks like. To start off, I love my husband very much and we both have been working hard on maintaining a cohesive Neurodiverse Relationship. As mentioned in older posts his inability to be relational made me feel more like a group leader/organizer than a woman on vacation with her man in one of the most romantic places in the world.

In Tuscany with Phil

We visited Naples, Rome, Tuscany and Venice and during our down time from sightseeing he was on his phone listening to audio books which were of apparent interest to him. While napping in a Villa in Tuscany he was listening to his audio books as he did when I took a bubble bath in our Grand Canal view suite in Venice. Had I not been educated on Asperger’s and being married to a spouse on the Spectrum I would have experienced many melt downs which include being upset, yelling, ignoring, shaming, crying, and threatening the relationship. In the past I wouldn’t bring his behavior to his attention, rather, ignore it or make some excuse about why he isn’t more interactive. Because I do so now and share what it means to me I am able to manage my emotions more appropriately. He learns with each opportunity as I tell him exactly what I need and want in challenging situations. He appreciates my input and is mindful to adjust his behavior in meeting them.

Being married to someone on the spectrum can make you feel alone, lonely and invisible. Cassandra Syndrome shares more of these kinds feelings. To help manage these emotions it’s important to have a good sense of self and do things to overcompensate them. On vacation I like to carve out time to be by myself for a couple of hours. As a Marriage Counselor, I enjoy people watching and observing couples interacting within their own dynamic. Helps me get some perspective as all couples have their ups and downs.

It isn’t easy travelling with someone on the spectrum as most of the time you do all the work. As with anything life isn’t perfect and being married to an Asperger husband has it pros and cons. In conclusion the trip was fabulous. Due in part, to our understanding of our Neurodiversity and the two of us being able to express our expectations.

For more information on being married to someone on the spectrum and how to manage being in a Neurodiverse Relationship please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

 

Cassandra Syndrome

Cassandra Syndrome.  What is it?  In Greek mythology, Apollo gives Cassandra the gift of prophecy; the ability to foresee the future.  He did so out of an act to seduce her but when she ultimately rejected him, he hexed her with a curse of never being believed.  Even though Cassandra had the power to predict the future and could warn people when something bad was about to happen, no one believed her.  She was dismissed and rejected, regarded by the townspeople as an insane liar.  The curse of never being believed became a source of pain and frustration throughout Cassandra’s life.  Despite her powers as a clairvoyant, she was all but invisible.

My husband has Asperger Syndrome (AS), making us a Neurodiverse Couple.  During the years before we obtained an unofficial diagnosis, I was quite troubled and experienced a great deal of psychological and emotional distress.  I was an emotional hostage, suffering through daily trauma of feeling invisible to my AS partner.  My husband could not express empathy, was awkward socially and had a limited ability to express himself non-verbally.  My response was to act out.  I was angry, unreasonable, hurtful and verbally abusive.  My self-esteem was being demolished by a partner who could not provide the connection I longed for.  There was either something terribly wrong with me or my husband had some sort of undiagnosed psychological challenge.  As a result, I was losing my sense of self.

I was experiencing an ongoing traumatic relationship syndrome (OTRS), known in this case as the Cassandra Syndrome, a term coined by the families of adults affected by AS.  Like Cassandra in the myth, I had become invisible, disregarded, and ignored.

 

There was never any doubt I loved Phil but the Asperger’s was creating many challenges.  I didn’t want a divorce so I educated myself on AS, and Cassandra Syndrome and acquired coping skills to manage my emotions more appropriately.  We also found the tools my husband needed to be more relational and put systems in place for better communication.  This had made me so much happier.  Today, our Neurodiverse challenges are much more manageable and our mutual commitment to stay together and keep moving forward is truly one of the great achievements of our unique love story.

 

For more information on coping with Cassandra Syndrome and moving forward with your Aspie husband (or wife/partner), please contact me at (858) 735-1139.  I know I can help.

                      with my husband Phil

 

 

Do You Think Your Husband Has Asperger’s?

Do You Think Your Husband Has Asperger’s?  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).

A person with Asperger’s, an Aspie, is very high functioning and has no problem with basic speech, are quite intelligent and capable.

Common traits of Asperger’s include:

  1. Not being thoughtful – despite any ill intent, the impact may appear rude or callous.
  2. Have memory problems – forgetful
  3. Have a lack of theory of mind (Mindblindness) – incapable of putting themselves “into someone else’s shoes.”  Cannot conceptualize, understand or predict knowledge, thoughts, and beliefs, emotions, feelings and desires, behavior, actions, and intentions of another person.
  4. No self-awareness.
  5. Time management problems – lose track of time as they can become involved in restricted or special interests.
  6. Have a narrow range of interests – hyper-focused on one (often very specific) hobby.
  7. Show little to no empathy.
  8. Have sensory problems – sensitive to bright light, loud sound, skin sensitivities, and sometimes taste.
  9. Repetitive behaviors – like routine, have little tolerance for change, inflexible.
  10. Struggle for small talk – limited relational skills.
  11. Conversations can be one-sided.
  12. Difficulty making friends.
  13. Have awkward moments and mannerisms.
  14. Little eye contact.

As a Marriage Counselor married to someone on the spectrum I’m working with and able to help Neurodiverse Couples (a couple is neurodiverse when one or both partners has an Asperger / Autism Spectrum profile) focus on problem-solving, developing coping strategies for one or both partners, and acquiring relational and communication skills through putting systems in place and implementing a process that is successful.

I love my husband as he is a kind, generous, and intelligent man. I didn’t want to leave the relationship so I educated myself on this syndrome and acquired the coping skills to manage my emotions (Cassandra Syndrome) more appropriately while getting my husband the tools he needed to be more relational.  We have put systems in place and are implementing a process that is actually working well.

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.