Asperger Marriage. Asperger marriages are also known as Neurodiverse Relationships. Where one partner is on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), typically the husband (AS) and the wife neurotypical (NT). In my own marriage, my husband is the AS partner and I am the NT partner. People with traits of AS have always been around, either misdiagnosed, undiagnosed, or labeled “odd” in behavior. Marriages with a person with AS are often very challenging, with mental health consequences for both partners, for their children, and for their extended family systems. Neurodiverse couples counseling (coaching) views partnerships thru a neurological lens. Education about AS, acquiring tools and putting a system in place with a counselor that specializes in neurodiverse couples enable the couple to become more communicative, but, more importantly, more relational which creates harmony and cohesiveness for moving forward. Traditional marriage counseling is ineffective and can sometimes be detrimental to the process.
The mismatch of expectations, lifestyle, and needs tend to create misunderstanding, conflict, and unhappiness for both partners in the marriage. As an NT wife, I experienced feelings of frustration, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and much anger. Cassandra Syndrome is what a woman experiences after years of being married to a man with Asperger’s. Cassandra Syndrome is also referred to as Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome or Affective Deprivation Disorder and abbreviated as CADD, OTRS or AfDD. Cassandra is a debilitating condition that can lead to physical and psychological problems if not managed experiencing distress as a result of their emotional needs not being recognized, or met by their AS (autistic) partner. My acting out behavior included threatening divorce every other month, crying while yelling, excessive drinking, and insulting comments.
The AS husband may experience general anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive behavior (repetitive patterns of behavior), social anxiety and irritability. AS husbands are often observed as not being thoughtful, inconsiderate, selfish, narrow minded and sometime narcissistic. The primary diagnostic features cause significant impairment in important areas of functioning leading to challenges in their relationships. My husband’s anxiety and depression were exacerbated due to my acting out behavior.
In my professional and personal opinion the single best indicator for success (good prognosis) is both partners acquiring tools for moving forward meeting the needs and wants of each. The AS partner practices how to be more expressive, forthcoming, understanding of expectations while the NT partner manages her range of emotions in appropriate ways. Acting out behavior negatively reinforces effort on the AS partner’s part as he is already consumed with anxiety and fear.
Being in a neurodiverse relationship is similar to two people speaking different languages coming together and wanting to establish a life together. Learning each other’s language is imperative for communication. Learning how to do that is not rocket science. There is a learning curve but it’s worth the effort because neurodiversity makes for more interesting relationships.
For more information about Asperger Marriages please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or visit my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com