rec ipes(55 Posts)
This is a support thread for people in AS/NT relationships: these are our tentative recipes for success. If you are looking for something else, please look elsewhere.
�One of my biggest sadnesses is that I used to live on hopes and dreams and planning for a future. I've never been allowed to do this in all the years with dh. Initially, not ever having met, married or gone out with anyone who didn't also share in this way, I didn't notice. Over time though I realise it's a real joy-killer to me. Not being able to discuss plans for a future feels like an unspoken way of saying we don't have a future. It's also been very subtly controlling. If you don't speak out and share your hopes and dreams, you don't start to build/save towards that shared goal. Consequently, money just gets spent on whatever he thinks important that day, week etc. It's mean and sucks the joy out of life.�
�Speaking for myself: if I seek self-actualisation, which is at the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, I would have to leave dh. I would find a man who can love and cherish me, be interested in me, bother to remember traumatic things that happened to me in the past, help me, support me, share my ambitions and hopes for the future, care about me. I will never get that from dh. Never. So I will never be the person I could be.
It is shit for me, because it is a repeat of how people have related to me in the past - abusively. IF I wanted to live a healthy life, I would choose a non-abusive relationship to heal my life. Instead, I am staying with dh. Really because of the dc - but, yet again, that is me putting others' needs first, to the huge detriment of my own. Unhealthy!�
Perhaps what's needed is for people to share their experiences of getting a counsellor/psychologist with appropriate expertise.
My own impression is that specialist provision is extremely patchy, and that the people who need assistance most will often find it hardest to access it. If a GP is a first point of contact, will they be helpful? It might be that if a partner who is ASD is holding down a decent job and the household is outwardly stable, a doctor is not going to regard a partner's unhappiness as pressing. The most the partner could hope for is a number sessions with the practice counsellor.
Or someone whose marriage is unhappy might contact Relate. I'm assuming the Relate training does not currently cover issues in ASD/NT relationships is any depth, if at all.
Deciding to go the private route is an option for some. However many people have posted here about finance being a difficult area of communication in the relationship. Given that private counselling for individuals starts at around �40 a session, how many couples are going to be able to agree - and have the resources - to invest in a series of sessions. (I'm assuming that the rate for couples counselling may be considerably higher.) If the counsellor feels that it would be useful to see the partners over quite a long period we are talking about four figure sums. (Less money for spouses to pursue their special interest, less money for bills, petrol, essential items.) Plus there's possible need to pay for babysitting, the cost of getting to sessions if the counsellor doesn't live five minutes walk away.
It's an almost entirely unregulated profession with a wide variety of approaches. Most counsellors will claim to be able to work with a huge range of issues. However it may just be that they're interested in these topics and have covered them briefly in training. Does this mean that people who are stressed and vulnerable should be prepared to open up their soul to a private practitioner who may have good intentions, but very little relevant experience?
I think that in the same way that there is support for the families of people with cancer or where someone has committed suicide or who has alcoholism, it is good to support those who are trying to maintain family life when this is heavily affected by the particular needs of someone who isn't neurotypical.
But it maybe that research to date has been very much focused on the needs of the individual who has AS, and less on the whole pattern of relationships surrounding that person.
There's a mix of NT and AS men in my life, I reckon.
Now one of the NT men can definitely be very focused about his own interests. At times when he's thinking about them, he may not properly hear what I'm saying. He likes practical solutions to emotional problems, e.g. 'If you're unhappy what can I do to help.' But he's unlike the AS men in my life, in that he's interested in what's going on for me, he's understanding and has a whole emotional life of his own. My brother can be a bit uptight, and is not very expressive - but when I talk to him on the phone he's very good at remembering the details of my life, knowing the right questions to ask and taking in the answers. With both there's a genuine sense of interaction - the communication might have limitations/frustrations. But there's a sense of two people being there and wanting to make it work.
With the AS men in my life, it feels as if such interaction as there is, is very skewed and lop-sided. They might be sitting at the table but it feels as if they are in their own, rather faraway place. If I make a really big effort I can go and inhabit the place that they are in. But they could never in a million years do the same for me. (It would not occur to them to do so.)
�The times I have had other people's husbands OFFER to do things for me (fit roof boxes, lift heavy things, etc) whilst DH has stood there blankly, not realising that HE could be helping me. And I don't make it easy, because I am too proud to ask for help. But the downside is, my opinion of him just goes further and further down. He has NEVER changed a lightbulb. I am not exaggerating. He actually wouldn't know how to.�
�My dreams and excitement I keep for myself. I rarely talk about my dreams to DH. Maybe some achievements never the hardships. What I do try and do is to have a circle of people around me to share all that. Different people for different projects.�
�he cannot contemplate variations of thought that could be valid in other areas. He cannot conceive, as far as I can see, of anything other than absolutes, his own verities.
YY to that.... I seem to be spending my time explaining to DH and ds2 that you can have different pov and no one is absolutely right or wrong. It's just different opinions (It seems that it can also go with what is 'good' or 'bad' taste wise....).�
�I said to DP on Saturday, about something, "the thing is, whether it not you can see them, there ARE shades of grey... Not everything IS black and white"
He said "EVERYTHING is black and white.. People try to invent shades of grey but they are not there. It's ALL black and white!"
He has no room for compromise or other people's opinions. The only way that he may sometimes budge is if you "feed" him some information and leave him with it.. Don't ask for him to reconsider anything then and there or wait for a response. Sometimes, then, he will come back with a "new shade or black or white".. Still no grey.. But it is do because in his head, he has found a place to add it to his whiteboard, to make it work with what's already written there.�
�If I don't agree then I am wrong.
If ds is well then he's fit to climb a mountain, if he's ill he should be in bed.�
�I recently realised that I can't hear a phone ring without experiencing a bit of a panic as I think it's going to be some sort of drama involving dh and the dc (even when it�s someone else's phone!). And even when I'm contentedly at work, I expect to hear someone call my name at any moment with bad news or again, some sort of drama concerning the family. That can't be right can it? Expecting a disaster around every corner?
�Dh called me today while I was at work, with such a drama, cue protracted phone conversation in which I had to repeat very loudly to him more than once "stop talking AT me and LISTEN for one moment". Apparently I was the only one who could sort this problem, so he felt ok interrupting me at work. He texted me ten minutes later to say the problem had sorted itself out. He really needn't have bothered me with it.�
�I'm so glad you wrote that about expecting a disaster round every corner and feeling panic when the phone rings. I discuss this quite a bit with my counsellor and I think it's really important to acknowledge the links with aspie dh. It's really not just me catastrophising. It's him. He panics. He dumps his panic on me. I have to tell him what to feel.�
�Exactly. It's dh's panic. He's offloading on to me. He looks to me to sort these particular problems out. I am beginning to think about how to break this pattern. ds shows signs of it too. As his mum I have of course in the past instinctively tried to help him out but now I see I need to enable him to have the confidence to sort things more independently. Somehow, with a child, this doesn't seem so bad, or odd, but with another adult it just seems wrong, like it shouldn't be necessary.�
�What gets me is that dh has no idea how to "take care of me" in terms of not setting off anxiety. Quite the reverse. He'll say: "Just got a text from dc" (who is abroad). Loooooong pause. What? Is dc lost? Broken? Ill? Dead? "She's had a good time at X". He laughs. So my nerves have gone into overdrive for nothing. Yet from his blank demeanour, it could just as easily have been: "Their bus has crashed, she's in hospital".�
�I think this is the pattern we find ourselves in - being high in emotional empathy and dealing with individuals creating high emotional demands and anxieties, well, you know, AS. If there weren't the one, there wouldn't be the other, at least not to the same degree, and so the cycle is born. So we get tangled into this co-dependency thing.
�Ds has always verbalised many of his thought processes, particularly regarding any organisation he has to undertake, or any series of things, like a journey, "I'll catch x train then walk the 10 minutes then meet so and so then ..." etc. Or when he was younger, "what are we doing, and then what, and what after that ...?" So this anxious need to understand and get to grips with things has always been there, along with the need to talk it out and to generally, have me listen. It is not a conversation, I am just there to hear him.�
�On this anxiety thing, it's also that things always, always do go wrong. So nothing is ever in hand, predictable, sorted, reliable. So dh took the car to the garage this morning; they were to ring him when finished. All day long we waited. I re-worked several times plans for the weekend based on whether or not we'd have the car. At 5pm dh rang the garage. They had rung him ages ago to say it was ready. Garage closes at 5.30pm. We do a mad dash to garage.
What happened about the phone call is a mystery.
Typical example of how the simplest thing is complicated. And yes, I could have taken over at any point during the day and made everything all right - but I was too busy doing precisely that with a million other little things.�
�Yes, there's a kind of "accident prone-ness" to my dh, extending beyond the purely physical. If things can be complicated or go wrong, then they will be, and do! Of course, not always. But certainly enough over time to create this sense of expectation in me and this feeling of being on tenter-hooks regarding a phone ringing and so on.�
"The only thing l find that helps is having a stable support network that can help you see that you are sane and wonderful, coping or not with your husband. It is unlikely your husband will be able to show anything but anger. Loving someone with AS has been one of the hardest things l have ever done. l was chatting to my mum once about the meanings of the anniversary, early ones are paper, cotton, wood, l asked my mum (who is married to an AS) what we 'get' on our 25th anniversary and she said canonization. Never a truer word spoken."
"Tried to get him to take notice of me once, a l-o-o-o-g time ago now. Dressed up to the nines, new skimpy clothes, hair and makeup. He walked into the kitchen, looked at me, walked straight past me and sat on the bar stool. I put the kettle on while he surveyed the room. "That's odd." He said. "I've just noticed …" he began. Hoo flipping rah! At last! The effort has paid off!
… "the skirting board in the corner by the cooker is definitely deeper than it is by the window". Seriously.
"I once went on an assertiveness course which was Revelatory. They said,
Remain courteous at all times
Repeat, often in the same language the following
" yes, I can see that is how it is/ appears to you. But it is different for me. I want/need x. "
And don't give up."
"There has been no upset or disappointment at Christmas, because my expectations were completely non-existent. That makes it easier in some ways, but scares me that in a few years I will forget how to have emotions. I'm not "allowed" to have disappointment, anger, resentment because that unsettles the "house"
Being annoyed that he has left the freezer open three times in the last couple of months, meaning that all the carefully planned bulk meals I've cooked because i didn't have time and was too knackered to cook when i got home from a job that was making me ill all had to go in the bin
That he regularly boils the kettle without any water in, which blows it up
That he lets the dog destroy £20 cushions, several at a time because he can't do two things at once, i.e. watch Sky Sports News and stop the dog from chewing the cushions (in the same room)
I could go on, but you all know how it is anyway.
I bore myself sometimes. I cannot believe there is a world out there where someone would find me even slightly attractive. Running a lovely home, with two lovely children and trying my absolute fucking best every day isn't enough.
Meanwhile, he reaps the benefit from appearing outwardly acceptable, whilst contributing nothing."
"I know what you are saying about choosing the old fashioned gender roles. It is not what I imagined would be my life when I first got together with DH and I had a great career at first. But,it just didn't work. I would have had a complete physical and mental breakdown. So, for the last 17 years I have done a very part time job and managed everything at home. This sounds like a familiar situation for most families,but we know that having an AS partner is a very particular kind of stress and makes things even harder.
When I first stepped down from my job I felt huge relief. I know exactly what you are saying about cushions and stuff. For my DH the house is invisible. Really invisible. There is no point whatsoever mentioning anything at all to him about the house,garden, or food. So, given that I had to do all that anyway I felt relieved that I had the time to get it done. It seemed efficient and reassuring.
But, the other day we were out with another couple ( obviously rare and awkward) and the man said how much he enjoyed the fact that his partner wasn't working at that time. He enjoyed the fact that they could spend the weekend relaxing rather than getting stuff done. He enjoyed having nice meals, DIY being done.He said he was happy that she was less stressed and that he was grateful she did all this. The thing about being a stay at home partner of an AS is that he will NEVER say that to you. My DH never once came home and said 'oh, you've painted the hall, that looks good!' or, that pruned hedge looks much better/dinner smells nice etc.etc. in fact he actively believes that all of these things are unnecessary and trivial.
So,my reservation about being a stay home partner to an AS is not to do with feminism (well maybe a bit) but that you are doing a job which will never be noticed,acknowledged or appreciated. This lack of appreciation will also be picked up by your children. Right now I feel like an idiot servant."
"Anyway, I am focusing on all the stuff he CAN do and does brilliantly. I'm also giving him more space for his hobbies that make him feel more confident. I'm remembering that he is bringing home the bacon in a stressful job that he doesn't always like but puts up with for our security. I'm remembering that being around people all day is really hard for him so not to expect conversation in the evening, and do my chatting to my ladies in the day. This all sounds a bit 'Surrendered Wife' and I'm kind of horrified in one way, but in another, my husband is a bit like a child, literally, and I would not want to hurt him as he is quite vulnerable, but I can't expect everything from him. "
“I often find, when dh and I have moved poles apart, that if I can find a chink of compassion for him, I nurture it and use that as positive strength to approach him and show him reassurance and support. It is amazing that when I can be feeling so in need of those things myself, that using any residue of compassion and selflessness has amazing results - he relaxes and sees me as his friend not his enemy, his attitude to me softens and lines of proper communication open up again.
It might be that his fear and confusion are disenabling him to reach out for help and support from you, turning into blame and confrontation instead.
Once again, it is us who has to be the strong and mature one.”
“You will have to accept that if you go into this relationship for the long term, you may be able to alter things at the margins, I do believe one can train one's Aspie a bit, but not deep down. The release, negotiation and resolution that comes with speech for NT people and women especially, is the opposite for many men and many people with AS.”
“I had a ball, saw lots of friends who were all delighted to see me, listened to great music, really had a fantastic time. Just fantasised about how great it would have been to share it with someone. I felt like an excited teenager who hasn't got a boyfriend ... enjoying the buzz, but alone.
So, living with an AS partner is inhibiting us from being who we truly are.”
“I wish I could have gone to a 'safe house' this evening. I wonder if we might be able to offer that to each other? I so need some respite now and then. Would be very happy to offer the same.”
“My DP will occasionally ask me how my day has been. But tunes out if my reply lasts longer than 10 seconds. However, I am expected to listen to about 15 minutes monologue of how his day has been, including blow by blow accounts of what people have said. Most of it is extremely boring but he has no filter on what might interest someone else, so I get a download! He is always quick to tell me that I am boring him though......”
“Someone up thread talked about co-dependency - I googled it and while I'm not absolutely clear what behaviours denote co-dependancy or not, I really am wondering about the dynamic between AS and NT and whether our behaviours condone each others.
For instance, my dh "gets away" with being, apparently, a lazy arse by sitting in bed with his laptop and a cup of tea while I make supper having worked a long physically arduous day. Or, this scenario could be seen as me "enabling" his behaviour because I do not make him aware of the imbalance of input nor do I illustrate the imbalance through my actions, ie NOT cooking supper.
Some years ago my homeopath told me that my dc were railing against me with bad and challenging behaviour because they saw how badly their dad was treating me and yet I was doing nothing about it. In other words I was condoning his behaviour.
I suppose it comes down to training our Aspies. I find it hard often to find the right time to bring up an issue with dh. The truth is, his perception is that he does all the work and no one else lifts a finger, or cares, or understands, or appreciates what he does. He would be incredulous if I told him how unfair and self-centered his behaviour was. And he would be angry because he would see my pov as unjustified.”
“As for sharing, well my dh is adamant that "we" (me and him, the dc and him, me and the dc and him) should do stuff together. But as I have said before and as has been discussed here recently, he decides and organises and then announces, no debate. If it is tasks that need doing, he is dreadful to work with; bad tempered, bossy, ungrateful, disrespectful, impatient, aggressive, uncommunicative (apart from barking orders). I simply avoid any shared jobs, therefore very little gets done around the house now, and the dc likewise, give him a very wide berth when tasks are in the offing.
He is a contrary individual; wanting to share but not having the social skills to make that a pleasant and rewarding experience, and wanting simplicity and minimalism in his life and environment and yet actually being a hoarder, messy and disorganised - just two examples.”
“The lack of sharing..never considered this but its so true, there is no way he will work alongside me, gardening, finances or housework.He has to do it solo and if I try to get involved, perhaps helping in a different part of the garden he will react negatively.We didn't have such issues until we purchased a house together.Previously each of us had our own house and becoming 'we' has been a massive issue.
There are positives in the relationship but counselling has helped me to see that I won't be able to get my needs met.The choice is accept it or walk.”
“My husband is going through a hard/exciting time at work and (amazingly) told me about it (a bit) and we discussed it. I could feel that I was jealous that he gets to do something exciting, but I tried to think about whether I could put that aside to be a support to him. And I think I can. Although I need stuff for me too.
For the first time I am starting to understand that I can draw on traditional roles to help me in finding my way with this. I realise this makes me sound like a fundamentalist but I am truly not. If I need to be more like a traditional wife (or executive secretary as Tony Atwood calls it) then there are things that wives traditionally do - and these things are to help them cope with a pretty unrewarding job.
So I'm practicing looking nice, not for my husband but to make myself feel better. I am spending a little more on getting my hair done. I am doing this because it makes me feel a little bit better - not because I think it is 'important'. I'm trying to make the house look nicer because no one else cares about that and I am sick of feeling resentful about being the only one who cares - so I'm just getting on and doing it because that is the job. I'm having lunch with friends midweek because weekends are like work for me with the kids and my husband.”
Apaintedevil you have described in detail exactly the way my husband is and behaves on a frequent basis.
I too, hate arguing infront of the children as they are becoming more and more aware of the unrest. I catch my daughter, who is 7, looking at me after we've been arguing as if to say 'are you ok mummy?' and it really upsets me that they are having to witness it all, but at the same time I don't want them to grow up thinking that this is normal and that this is how you let someone speak to you!
It is incredibly challenging, living with someone who I now suspect has AS and finding this thread and all similar on here has been a lifeline for me recently. Just knowing that there are other people out there in very similar situations and that it's not always my fault that this isn't done, that isn't done, and if it is, its not done correctly!
It does feel like I have a third child a lot of the time.
"Of course, I forgot to mention the endless negativity! Apparently, it's only worth commenting on something if it's wrong."
"In terms of affection...there is some, but my heart isn't in it anymore. In the beginning, I was openly expressing it all the time, and wondering why it was falling into a vacuum."
"My dh polishes his halo any time he puts himself out, for instance cooks a meal, when it's something I do every day, day in day out, but when he does it, we all have to heap praise on him."
"My shitty days are pretty much always at the weekends. My dh is away for work during the week which, and I genuinely hate feeling like this, is great. It's a time when my shoulders stop being hunched up in stress (or the anticipation of it), when my breathing becomes more natural and my jaw stops being clenched. I've actually just started noticing the impact of his presence on my physical being. Not good for one's health at all. My world has gradually got smaller and smaller. Depression and loneliness crept up on me. I have often felt lonelier with my dh beside me than I ever felt when I was actually alone. I was so gregarious, outgoing and social. I look at my life now and it's just … well, flat and feels empty."
"My trouble is I hate rowing in front of the kids. But I also hate them to see me putting up with his constant put-downs. If they see me allowing it, it will be normal in their eyes, and will do it to their future partners. But if I fight back a bit - snap back at him, the day, weekend, holiday will be ruined by a sulk and even spikier egg shells than usual."
"He (we) have got into a habit where he regularly either - pokes fun at, or seriously questions my choices, (in ANYTHING! music, clothes, how I work, how I do dishes, how I park, parent, do homework, ...) sometimes I can take it in good humour but I have put up with it - therefore allowing it to become an ingrained habit - where now the power balance is - 'she's totally flaky' and 'I know what I'm doing'."
"I often don't tell him things that I would like to share with someone, as somehow everything ends up being my fault. If I am glad about something he will make me feel bad about it, if I am worried, he will make me feel like an idiot, and if I am upset with him, he gets even more upset so then it's ME who has to 'make it better' for him."
"DH is never wrong. He has apologised to me twice, exactly twice in our marriage. And even then I knew that one time he only did it because he could see we were at deadlock, not because he realised he was in the wrong. Whereas I apologise to him several times a day."
"The period running up to Christmas is challenging for us all I think. There will be lots of extra work,closer proximity to our families and for certain no help or thanks. Perhaps we should all put some effort into being prepared before the inevitable end of tether comes. Lots of sleep, exercise, cut down on alcohol,vitamins and ADs."
"My dh doesn't do eye contact - a typical AS issue. However, it doesn't affect him in his work relationships because he's never physically close enough to anyone for them to notice that he's looking at their mouths. It only really becomes a problem in an intimate relationship when, over a period of time, that behaviour silently tells you that you're not being listened to or heard, what you have to say isn't important. Yet that is not what is actually happening in the AS partner's mind when he's in a conversation with you."
"One of the things we were told in diagnosis was that in 99% of NT/AS couples, the NT partner is in a 'caring' profession. Subconsciously it seems, the AS partner is drawn to a person who will 'complete' them, i.e. bring into the relationship all the aspects that they are unable to bring into it; social life/skills particularly! "
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