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Aspergers DH....Can it work, really?

(76 Posts)
AspieWifie Sun 14-Apr-13 13:13:22

I have name changed for this. Please be gentle with me, I've never had to post on Relationships before.

My husband has Aspergers. I am continuing to learn what this means in terms of our relationship. I know this is something that he cannot change. I have only recently accepted that he will not change (this was very hard for me as I am a hopeless optimist).

We have tried all sorts of ways to try to communicate better; we went through nearly a year of counselling and it did help while we were doing it. But now that we have been finished for a few months, things are going back to the way they were before, even though I feel I have changed and learned and have grown so much from the therapy.

We are currently reading self-help books specifically about Aspergers relationships.

He has been officially diagnosed in the last couple of years and has received CBT therapy and goes to a support group. He is very intelligent and very loving and caring (in his own way). He is a devoted and loving father (again, in his own way).

What has come up recently is that now I am realizing that my needs cannot be fullfilled by him, I am starting to take care of my needs more and more. I have my friends who I can talk to, I have my personal time to de-stress, I have my kids to keep me more than busy and happy, I am doing a course to hopefully have a career when the kids are older.

This has left him feeling left out and out of sorts. His night-time routine has changed because I am no longer staring at the t.v. with him every night. He is becoming even more reliant on me to make life ok for him.

It feels like I am between a rock and a hard place.

I love him and I would love to live harmoniously with him under the same roof, but is this possible? To live harmoniously together we would have to understand what the other person needs, right? And give and take on both sides. Is this even possible with a DH who has Aspergers?

Is there anyone out there who has been married to as Aspergers man? How do you make it work? If it didn't work, how did/do you manage, especially if there are children involved?

I love him, I do. I'm just so emotionally drained.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 14-Apr-13 13:33:28

I think, if you take the Aspergers out of the equation, what you're essentially talking about is 'compatibility'. It is entirely possible to care about someone but be so incompatible that living with them makes you miserable. It's clear that a lot of effort has been put into the marriage by everyone but some things simply can't be fixed. You may find your DH makes a better friend and co-parent than a partner.

smileyforest Sun 14-Apr-13 13:40:10

I was married to an Aspergers...he was also EA...it didnt work for me....I din't find out that he had Aspergers until 15y of marriage...people kept telling me he was odd...I just didn't see it...he is now married to a Japanese...which is quite common to marry someone from a different culture as then Aspergers is rarely identified as a problem but more a culture issue iyswim

I'm in quite a similar position to you op. i've been married for nearly 12 years and have 2 dcs. My dh was diagnosed last year by Maxine Aston (we travelled quite a distance to see her as no local help here for adults with as). We had a lot of problems v similar to yours and I really felt that the diagnosis would be a turning point but it hasn't been - in fact things are worse than ever.

You said that your dh is a good father 'in his own way' - do you feel the children are better off or worse off living with him? I'm trying to work this all out for my own situation so don't have anything to offer really but I'm worried that my children are starting to behave in ways that they see him behaving and they're suffering for the way that he can be.

I totally understand about not having your own needs met. It sounds like you're doing very well with things -do people know about his diagnosis or how does that work?

AspieWifie Sun 14-Apr-13 14:02:30

Snap- With regards to the kids, they only see him for about an hour during the weekdays (he works long hours sometimes), and on the weekend he does spend time with them, but it is short but sweet. He overloads very quickly, so I have to always have an ear out to pick up the signs of an impending 'I need some time to myself'. For example, he will play with them for a half an hour (usually at my insistance) and then need an hour to 'unwind' from it. My DC are 4 and nearly three, so quite young yet, but my daughter is starting to pick up things more now.

So, to be honest, if the kids only saw him for some quality time on the weekend, it would be about the same as to what they are getting now. He adores the kids and they adore them, I could never ever get in the way of that, no matter what happened.
People do know about his diagnosis, but I have to explain what it means as they don't know about it.
Is there any support groups specifically for wifes of Aspergers men?

HansieMom Sun 14-Apr-13 15:05:32

He would have a hard time as a weekend dad. What would he do? Play with them half an hour and then escape to another room for an hour?

There are forums for people married to aspies. There are a lot of unhappy women venting there. You can google married to aspie.

thewhistler Sun 14-Apr-13 15:09:55

Aspiewife,Snap, am about to pm iou.

Pendipidy Sun 14-Apr-13 15:10:43

Can you tell me how you got him diagnosed? Did he want to? What signs are there?

Do you have much contact with his family? What are they like, could they perhaps help at all?

oh and yes it can work, it just depends on how much you're prepared to accept the way he is and work with it/around it.

That being said, i would like to point out that the Aspergers may entirely be the root of his problems, if he's got married, had kids and can hold a job down and 'function' in society, then some of the problems may well be his personality rather than the Aspgergers. He needs to be careful that since he's had a diagnosis, that he's not using it as a wall to protect his bad behaviour being tackled!

What is it about your needs he's not fulfilling? What do you need from him to make you feel you can live and carry on your marriage?

*aspergers may NOT entirely be (sorry, lol)

thewhistler Sun 14-Apr-13 15:30:17

Er, pmd you three times, Sorry

Dp is almost certainly on the spectrum, but then so am I and two of our children so for us it does work yes, but only because we're both similar in thought and personality. We both need similar things from the relationship and can both do just fine without supposedly normal things like socialising.

Imo, your problem isn't your husband's aspergers but that ye are simply incompatible personalities.

Branleuse Sun 14-Apr-13 15:37:43

i dont get it. Surely he was aspergers BEFORE you married and had kids??
Has he only recently started not meeting your needs?

AspieWifie Sun 14-Apr-13 16:45:38

I appreciate all of your comments.

Having a DH who has Aspergers is a very unique experience that only other wives of Aspergers men would understand. (As I am NT and DH is AS, the dynamics of the relationships are very different than two people on the spectrum, I appreciate this).

I am trying to tap into that well of knowledge from other women who are/were in the same situation. While good intentions from family/friends does help a lot, they cannot experience what I have and what other wives of AD men have.

I've been pointed in the right direction for some very specific and helpful support, which I was hoping to get, as Mumsnet can be a wonderful place for support! Thanks for that! flowers

Bran- My DH was not diagnosed until a couple of years ago, long after I fell in love with him. Yes, we knew he was a bit different, but thought we could work with it/through it. I never imagined it would impact us as it did, neither of us did, but by the time we had a better understanding of just how different he thinks/feels/processes, we already had our two lovely children. And no, he hasn't suddenly stopped meeting my needs, it's more a matter of I am tired of them not being met. The unequalness of understanding.

I have a sibling who is an aspie, dont discount them as not understanding, i understand my sibling much more than my parents ever will. Tap into that knowledge and support, they can probably be more support then you think, but you may have to ask for it, they probably dont want to intrude!

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 14-Apr-13 17:24:51

"The unequalness of understanding."

Or 'incompatibility'. Sorry but I think you're placing far too much emphasis on the diagnosis and it's becoming this big 'thing' that excuses a lot of bad behaviour. If he had no diagnosis and behaved this way you'd be acting differently but, as it stands, you're falling foul of the 'he can't help it, it's just the way he is' bear-trap that keeps so many people in unhappy relationships.

When you say other people can't understand, of course they can. He doesn't have to have a syndrome in order to have a personality that makes you miserable.

This is your life gradually disappearing, not a case-study.

Bran - it can seem impossible to people not in this situation but huge numbers of people on the autistic spectrum are married or are in relationships with people before they were diagnosed. I often wonder how I got myself into the situation I'm in but the fact is that (IMO) in the early days a lot of behaviours are put down to other things. Also the person in the ASD often makes huge efforts to impress this person (as anyone interested in someone will show their best side) but operating at a level which they can't sustain. It can seem hard to understand but many people only discover after many years that their partner is on the spectrum (often when a child is diagnosed).

AspieWifie Sun 14-Apr-13 17:42:22

Thank you Snap, that does explain it very well.

Also, Cognito- his personality doesn't bother me, in fact it was part of what attracted me to him. Communication and understanding of what the other person needs is the issue. I am bending over backwards to help/support/understand him. The simple fact is that AS men in particular find it exceptionally, if not impossible to empathise or project or anticipate their wifes needs. My DH has admitted this.

I appreciate every marriage has these same issues of communication, understanding, etc. but in this case, my case, it is these very specific issues that have surfaced with every single interaction or expectation involved and yes, it is directly attributed to AS.

As well Cognito-I am surprised you could even say that 'if you take AS out of the equation'....? It's like saying, well if you ignore the fact he's male, or caucasion, or has brown hair or even if he was once a drug addict or abused as a kid. His being male will affect every nuance of his life, much like AS does. If he was abused, it affects him for the rest of his life. If he was an addict if will affect him the rest of his life in one way or another.

This is in his genetic code. His brain works differently on a molecular level. This is not a matter of his annoying habits or incompatablilty.

AspieWifie Sun 14-Apr-13 17:49:22

Summer- 'Similar in thought'. Well. That sums it up really. AS and NT don't think the same, no matter their personalities.

it sounds odd.. but perhaps you could ask over on the special needs board?

I know most of them are parents rather than spouses, but they might help you gain some insights in how they work around emotions and things?

willyoulistentome Sun 14-Apr-13 18:15:36

I also very strongly suspect that my DH has AS. Our eldest son was recently diagnosed with AS , so I have been reading and researching everything I can. DH has caused me so much pain over the years. Emotional pain I mean. We have completely stoppef socialising as it is just not worth the stress. He comes out with such outrageouly rude thing sometimes and has been so horrible to my friends and family. I mean just incredibly unfriendly to the point that people make excuses to leave.

Reading all the literature on AS, the penny has dropped with me and I am damn sure DH is affected. If hes not.. well then he is a shit basically.

I'm finding my situation very tough at the moment. I am reading all about CAD. I cant believe some people are denying. It is me to a T. It is totally real.

Also reading a book at the moment about AS /NT marriags and I am finding it very upsetting.

Basically it is looking like, unless I leave DH my life is destined to be lonely with no emotional support. We no longer have sex. There is no intimacy of any kind.

What upsets me most is knowing that ds is likely to make other women feel like this when he grows up.

My life is shit.

Willyoulistentome - I know how hard this is. What age is your ds? Maybe he could benefit from some of the programmes of support for people on the as so that his life will have a different sort of set of possibilities? I often feel angry that mu DHs parents didn't do anything to help him or even admit there could be a problem. I suppose we're living in a strange point in history where our generation grew up knowing little about autistic spectrum disorders and our children are hopefully experiencing a better age where they get the help and support they need. I know it's hard though when you feel like you're husband is more like an extra child than a supportive partner.

willyoulistentome Sun 14-Apr-13 22:09:06

snap my Aspie son is 9. It's all very new to us and its early days in figuring out the extent of his problems. Yes I hope to god I can help him learn to behave less selfishly.
Late FIL was certainly AS too, but violent with it. Reading the Tony Attwood book it was like reading something written about the three of them. Spooky.

thewhistler Sun 14-Apr-13 22:34:07

Willyou, am pming you.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 15-Apr-13 06:55:45

"personality doesn't bother me, in fact it was part of what attracted me to him. Communication and understanding of what the other person needs is the issue. "

Inability to communicate and understand is part of his personality. Plenty of outwardly nice people turn out to have personality traits that make them poor partners. Selfishness, anger, possessiveness, depression. You're treating the elements of his personality driven by a syndrome as 'other' when they are an integral part of the full package. Someone said above that they think their DH has the syndrome and that 'if not... he's a shit'. The two are not mutually exclusive.

AspieWifie Mon 15-Apr-13 07:04:17

Cognito- Do you have an AS husband?

AspieWifie Mon 15-Apr-13 07:05:03

Depression is a personality trait??? wtf

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 15-Apr-13 07:26:58

Less of the 'wtf'. hmm Of course people can have depressive personalities - it isn't solely an illness. Now you can say that, because you love that person, you are going to find a way round their depressive tendencies but, if it drags you down, there can come a point where you have to step away.

I have typed loads of long posts. Deleted them.

I strongly suspect my ex husband has aspergers.

Posting this from phone to remind me to come back later once I've done the school run.

MaryBS Mon 15-Apr-13 08:08:56

I think it works both ways, I am Aspie and my DH isn't. It does cause communication difficulties at times, but there is give and take on both sides. There are things I struggle to do, and there are times where I completely fall down. People talk about aspies not understanding them, its a problem the other way round too. When I am able to articulate what is happening, I find it hard to get people to believe me or understand. Its like being a different species or an alien!

Can you love him for the person he IS, rather the person he isn't? Can he adjust in time to the change in lifestyle which you need to fulfil your life? Is there any way you can adjust what you do, so you are both happy, without compromising your needs?

Right. Back.

I strongly believe my exH has Aspergers. DS3 is on the spectrum, and prefers to live at his dad's and come here to visit - they rub along very well together.

I did this test www.rdos.net/eng/Aspie-quiz.php as well as the Baron-Cohen one, admittedly I'm not an Aspie but in both of them exH came very high up the scores.

He struggles with emotions and empathy - he genuinely cannot understand why anyone else doesn't feel the way he does. He also can't understand why what he says is rude - he doesn't mean it to be rude, therefore it is not rude. In his head.

There are millions of small examples I could give, one from just this last weekend, I asked him to give me a coat for DD2 because all the coats had ended up at his house.

Firstly, he just DOES NOT NOTICE that he has all the lunchboxes, all the coats, all the trainers, because those things just don't figure on his radar. They aren't important to him so he doesn't notice.

Secondly, he gave me a coat but it was age 14. I handed it back to him and said that's not going to fit her it's far too big - can you give me one of her coats that fits her.

He said I hadn't specified that I wanted a coat to fit her. I should have specified that I wanted a coat to fit her. He gave me A coat that would keep her warm and dry, what was the bit deal.

I fumed the whole way home in the car. But he can't help it. It's not a choice he's making - he genuinely can't understand.

He doesn't wash or shower enough. Change his underwear. He dresses weird. He just doesn't get it.

I could put more but what I wondered was if anyone thought it would be useful or a good idea to have a "dealing with an adult with Aspergers" support thread?

Cogito - you might want to have a look at the information here
http://www.maxineaston.co.uk/cassandra/

AspieWifie Mon 15-Apr-13 10:52:34

Freddie- I read your post going...yup. Yes. Definately. I get that. Totally. You can't take anything for granted with any interaction. Nothing flows naturally. I have to think like a scientist and for an NT that can be quite hard.
Mary- I do love him and I have recently come to terms that this is how he will always be and I have to work around him. But our isses that we are discussing very openly and honestly (which is a first for us and very positive) about how his AS affect our marriage and how just like him, I am trying my best and can only do the best I can with my NT qualities to understand his AS, he too needs to allow me to be 'me' because being his wife is hard work. I believe our marriage is worth it in the long run, but in the short run I need more space and he needs to allow me to be different from him (mutual understanding of our differences).

Cognito - You haven't answered my question. Do you have an AS husband? If you don't, then your imput will be minimal and supportive at best, not as matter-of-fact as you have been projecting. And yes, do please read the link Snap gave you (thanks for that, Snap). I would be more angry at your ignorance if I weren't aware that your response is quite typical in therapy, even with professionals.

WestieMamma Mon 15-Apr-13 11:04:41

I'm happily married to a man with Asperger's. I'm afraid I agree with Cognito. A lot of it is down to personality, you can't separate the AS from who they are, it's integral.

The reason it works for us is that I know his number 1 priority is his family. There are things he really struggles with and things he does which make me want to scream, but behind this I know he is the kindest, most devoted man I could ever meet.

I feel I have to say though, be very wary of links to Maxine Aston. I've read a lot of her stuff and in my opinion she has an agenda fueled by a pathological hatred of autistic men.

I describe it as feeling like I have to think 24 steps ahead of him and everything has to be so clear and unambiguous. I really struggle with it.

As an example (another one lol) if I said to him "when suits to do xyz" he would say "5pm suits me" - no discussion, no what suits you, no fluidity.

And yet he's crap at being on time if he gets caught up in work/something else - he doesn't understand that it's rude to be so late, he expects everyone else to bend.

Does come across as "I am more important than everyone else" and I've ranted that at him plenty, but he doesn't see it like that - although the effects are the same, the primary motivation is different iyswim?

Branleuse Mon 15-Apr-13 11:20:08

I have a lot of aspie people in my life. Including my two sons.

Two people with aspergers are as different as two people without aspergers.
If youve gone off him, then youve gone off him, and thats a problem with you choosing to marry someone with traits you dont really like very much or were just putting up with. Not because theres something wrong with him

bassingtonffrench Mon 15-Apr-13 11:22:39

Hi, I am the daughter of an Aspergers man and an NT mother. it is almost impossible for me to imagine how and why they got together. I can only assume my father made an all out effort to impress her and she believed the problems were temporary. Once she had children she felt she couldn't get out.

The impact on my mother has been considerable. I''m glad they are still together for selfish reasons though as if they weren't it would be me and my siblings caring for my father as he has lots of problems.

She has her own life separate from him in terms of hobbies, activities etc. and that has been very positive and necessary.

My siblings and I are all happily married and have reasonable relationships with our parents, though it is never 'normal'.

WestieMamma Mon 15-Apr-13 11:26:09

I agree with freddie you do have to be clear and unambiguous.

An example in our house, I am currently 38 weeks pregnant, utterly exhausted, and in terrible agony with pgp. This means that most days now I can't manage to cook dinner. I normally do it as husband works exceptionally long hours. I now need him to cook, but just telling him that isn't specific enough for someone with AS. Instead I have told him that at 6.30 he needs to start, set an alarm on his phone to remind him, and given him a checklist of each step from starting to clearing up afterwards. It works for him. Just expecting him to know that I need help and getting pissed off when it's not forthcoming would be unfair because I would be expecting something beyond his capabilities. If he ignored my request for help and rejected the tools I'd prepared to help him meet that need, that would, in my opinion, be down to his character not his disability.

WestieMamma Mon 15-Apr-13 11:28:01

I also agree 100% with the last post from Branleuse.

moobieburger Mon 15-Apr-13 11:50:56

http://autisticbfh.blogspot.co.uk/2008/09/maxine-astons-cassandra-disorder-scam.html

moobieburger Mon 15-Apr-13 12:03:26

Have to disagree completely with those stating that Aspergers is a personality integral thing. Having depression is not part of your personality, neither is having the loss of sight in one eye, neither is having the flu or if you have a lisp.

Also, AS is a disability. Not an illness.

AS people have parts of their brains that don't work properly and this can be proven with brain scans. Would you discriminate against people with spina bifida and say that its part of their personality? Of course not!

On the subject of Maxine Aston, my opinion is mixed. She needs more peer review, and her CADD thing can happen to anyone and it also isn't in any way acknowldged professionaly anywhere else either (i wonder what Tony Attwood thinks of it?), but much of her advise makes sense, although maybe too much onous is placed on the AS Partner.

moobieburger Mon 15-Apr-13 12:12:48

westiemomma:

"if he ignored my request for help and rejected the tools I'd prepared to help him meet that need, that would, in my opinion, be down to his character not his disability."

Very well said. This is the difference between an AS person who cares and a person who is being a dick. Being angry at someone who can not help it is a sad thing and very unfair. Being angry at someone who knows the difference and chooses not to do what is necessary is justified.

AspieWifie Mon 15-Apr-13 12:46:16

"if he ignored my request for help and rejected the tools I'd prepared to help him meet that need, that would, in my opinion, be down to his character not his disability."

I too agree with this. This is why I am still with him, because I know that he is a good person who loves his family and wants to make it work. It's the showing him how to make it work bit that I am still learning. He is all too ready to learn, but we are figuring out how to teach him (and will be very shortly seeking the services of a specialist councellor in this area).

I am not too knowledgable about the debate with Maxine Aston but I did recently finish nearly a years councelling with a traditional marriage councelor and can you guess how many times his AS came up as a possible source of poor communication/needs expectation, etc? Not once. The poor woman looked out of her depth when we tried to address it.
Is it any wonder then that here DH and I are some months later with the old arguements cropping up? We were both onboard therapy 100% we took it all in, I've changed for the better. My DH? Hasn't forgotten it all, but can't relate it to a specific situation unless it is pointed out to him. Every situation has a subtle varience from the seemingly same one as before and so to my DH is a completly new situation to assess. He finds it very difficult to apply past learned behaviour to a new situation unless it is exactly like the previous one. Thus why councelling worked as long as the councellor held his hand and explained to him every situation/conflict in utter detail.
I couldn't do that for him once we were done and so he had to do this for himself, which I am learning is very difficult for him. He tries. God knows he tries! The buckets of tears of frustration that man has cried would break your heart.

WestieMamma Mon 15-Apr-13 13:32:21

One thing that my daughter's therapist recommended to improve communication with someone on the spectrum is to do it in writing, be that with post-its, text, email, whatever. That way the person with AS has more time to process what is being said and to organise their thoughts in order to respond. Verbal communication is often much harder for someone with AS than written communication.

Funnily enough Westie me and ExH now do almost everything by email/text and if there's a phone call, I do a follow up email/text. Seems a bit overkill to me, but it works much better than just a phone call.

moobieburger Mon 15-Apr-13 13:42:02

Aspiewifie, you situation sounds so familiar to me. I hope you can find a good councillor. We didn't get the chance for that where we live and we had to figure it out for ourselves. Its been a challenge for sure, it still can be, but we are better for it.

I want to take a moment to mention something about your 'short run' rediscover yourself. I too did this and i still do occasionally. but I made a mistake initially in not making time every now and again and engaging with my partner (not married) and withdrawing affection and intimacy and i stopped being proactive in finding or organising time together with him. Be careful with that, if your dh is like my partner, he will feel very isolated just in normal life and most likely has been since he can remember, try not to make it worse! He may withdraw into himself too far and you may find a lot of tears will be shed trying to pull him back once you feel ready to renegage with him fully again and if you have kids like me, it makes it awkward for them too. I managed to pull him back with a nice weekend stay in Paris, not that we saw much of it (ahem)!! And a week of family time.

AspieWifie Mon 15-Apr-13 13:52:10

Moobie- Funny you should mention this as it has come up as a concern for DH. We have both agreed to make more 'quality' time together as the weekdays are busy and he does feel pushed aside (and because he doesn't look elswhere for activities to make him happy or well-rounded -very focused interests- it has been that he looks to me to make him happy/feel secure -perhaps a bit too dependent for my liking) So yes, more 'date nights' it is for us!

moobieburger Mon 15-Apr-13 20:45:15

Aspiewifie, sounds like your dh is much better at communication than my dp. Mine relies on me a lot too for his emotional wellbeing, I have found that to often be the case when discussing it with others on the internet. I find it endearing though and for me it gives me a good feeling to know he adores me and reminds me that there is a connection between us even when he isn't making it obvious in ways that a non as man might or when he is being especially difficult and frustrating (which can be very often at times, especially when I need space!)

My dp has a special interest in motorcycles and racing them so he can at least go and tinker with one of his bikes and go for a few rides if tell him space is needed for a week or two. Yes, its a narrow interest and getting him to look beyond it is hard but he involves our kids with the tinkering part and they are happy to join in for the most part, or at least build model motorcycles with our youngest. So long as he has an activity and isn't moping around like a lost little puppy (which irritates me like nails on chalk board!) I let him do his thing. Maybe you should encourage him gently (or firmly push him, which ever works!) to involve himself more in his interests when he's being too much of a burden or too dependant on you? Just a thought.

AspieWifie Mon 15-Apr-13 21:07:47

'moping around like a lost little puppy '

Yes, yes, yes! This is how he has been acting. Passively waiting for me to mind read what he needs. And when I don't, he thinks I don't care. I did have a good rant at him for that and then later had a civil discussion and we came to the agreement about more quality (not quantity) time together. He is also now thinking of reconnecting with the few hobbies he once enjoyed before we had the kids.
Once he realizes something, he is pretty quick to act on it, I have to give him credit for that. It is the discovery and the me saying to him 'will you just believe me' stage of trying to get him to understand that is the chore of it all. It's like I can see the computer error sign flashing in his eyes 'does not compute. does not compute'!

WestieMamma Mon 15-Apr-13 23:32:31

Have you heard of 'theory of mind'? It's thought to be one of the core deficits of autism. One aspect of it is a complete inability to grasp that other people don't know what you know. It's why aspies find it so difficult to lie, because everyone knows what the truth is. It makes it very difficult to communicate needs because he sincerely thinks you already know.

I also have a diagnosis of ASD and this is something I struggle with. The intelligent adult part of my brain tells me that people don't know what's in my head unless I tell them, but the autistic part means that I don't feel it. What I know and what I feel are disconnected.

MaryBS Tue 16-Apr-13 08:00:35

The problem with "theory of mind" though is it works the other way too. That many people who AREN'T autistic fail to grasp what is autistic people find difficult! In my mind, its non-autistic people who generally lack theory of mind smile.

Having said that, you are really working at this aspiewifie smile

MyNameIsSpecial Tue 16-Apr-13 09:10:41

Agree with a lot of what has already being said.

I think that actually in an AS/NT marriage, the AS is an issue but the temperament of both partners can make it easier or more difficult to deal with the AS side of things.
I know of AS men who say very little and keep themselves for themselves (usually because they have learnt the hard way that saying too much is NOT a good idea). Some who are very 'vocal' and will not stop talking usually about their one special interest.
I know of NT women who are very chatty, thrive on social interaction. And others who are extremely independent or are more 'introvert' and dislike being in big groups.

My experience of having a mix of an AS man who is talking very little and me being an NT woman who loves interaction and talking.... well it's hard because his needs for calm and quiet can be met quite easily whereas my need of being able to talk isn't. Don't get me wrong he IS trying hard and WILL try and listen. But he won't have a ^conversation because he doesn't 'do' conversation.

As for why I got married in the first place?... I am not British (no surprise here) and for the first couple of years, our conversations were very much around the UK, him showing me the areas etc... (link to special interest). We had similar hobbies (again link to similar interest) so it didn't show up that much. Then move on a few years, add children to the mix, me being a SAHM (as being made redundant) etc... and all the cracks showed up big style.

OP I am not sure what to say re filling unmet needs though. I think you have done already all the things I have done myself and I couldn't think about anything else to do.
And the question of: Am I happy to live knowing these needs will not be met by my DH (or might never be met).... Haven't solved that question yet...

MyNameIsSpecial Tue 16-Apr-13 09:32:18

It also bring another question.
When differences in thinking are so important, it requires day to day effort to be able to interact in a way that works for your partner.
And sometimes, you just want to 'have it easy', not to have to make that extra effort again.

I think it's true both for AS and NT partners. Hence the OP's DH failing to keep up the good resolutions and the Op getting frustrated. But I am sure it also work the other way around. The OP 'forgetting' the AS and communicating in 'inappropriate' ways to her DH which leads to break down of communication too and her DH getting stressed/frustrated.

From my readings, it seems that it's the NT partner that ends up having to make more changes in their expectations/behaviours for the relationship to work. mainly because change is harder for people with AS and also because of the theory of mind which makes it easier for them to grasp what an AS needs/wants.
I have to say, even though my DH has made huge efforts, it does feel like I am the one who has made the deepest compromises. ie he still has his time for his special interests, he still has his quiet times in the evenings with no talking. We still organize our weekends/hols around what he likes doing. But he has learnt to deal with the dcs (that he wanted) which was a big deal for him. On the other side, I have no friends, no social life which was an important part of my life before I met him. I never get to do the other things I like because I am a mug and prioritize spending time together as a family over having time for myself doing what I like. Plus doing 'what you like' on your own isn't always fun either.

AspieWifie Tue 16-Apr-13 10:54:27

MyName- I could have written your post nearly word for word, except for the last bits.
After 7 or so years of him and later the kids being the priority, now every so often I tell him I need to focus on me for awhile. Even just for an hour to go for a walk by myself, go see friends (which is rare, but knowing I can call upon them to distract myself in something other than DH is a relief)
I can only call upon my journey so far and say that in the last 6 months or so, gradually I have been finding my life again so that I can live with DH. If I couldn't have down time, or me time, or whatever we can call it, I wouldn't like my life. (and my life, me is so much more than being my DH's wife).
It is harder to find this time too as my children are little yet so I have to have me time when they are in pre-school or sleeping because I would worry leaving them with DH for a longer period of time. So this makes for a very busy life at the moment!

I am nodding along with everything that's being said.

MyNameIsSpecial Tue 16-Apr-13 11:47:30

Aspie I have 'trained' my DH to look after the dcs when they were little (2 and 4yo). I know he found it extremely hard (He was with them on his own every other weekend whilst I was working) but he learnt that looking after young dc isn't easy and he also slowly learnt that their priorities have to trump his (shock).

But I have never been worried for their safety as such (Prob because I am very laid back myself). I have been worried for their emotional safety iyswim because I know that's where DH struggles. but worked out that he needed to learn about it and letting him off the hook wasn't the answer (And I had no idea about AS at the time either).

AspieWifie Tue 16-Apr-13 13:10:04

Yes, it's the emotional safety thing that concerns me, not their physical safety. In that respect he is much more 'wrap them in cotton wool' than me. I too had to go through the routine of how to take care of the kids and as kids are ever changing, it is a challenge to keep DH up to date with what they do/need now that they didn't last week. Small things that an NT may pick up on by reading between the lines or body language, but half the time, kids can't articulate fully what they need/want/what concerns them as they are emotionally immature themselves. So it is a real challenge for DH in this regard.

moobieburger Tue 16-Apr-13 14:34:16

" as kids are ever changing, it is a challenge to keep DH up to date with what they do/need now that they didn't last week"

I can sympathise with this to a point. But does your DH have a full time job? How often does he really get to spend with the kids in the week? From some of the conversations i have had with my friends who have non-AS husbands/partners this isnt just a problem that occurs with AS fathers wink. i was also being surprised a lot and i can remember when our two boys were little that they were changing and developing so quickly that even I had trouble keeping up with it on a day to day basis, especially as I had to work part time during the day.

Ginga66 Thu 18-Apr-13 00:38:10

Hi guys. I'm trying to figure out if my dh is autistic. What are the symptoms? He can be emotionally abusive definitely but there is ofme thing else. He can be very rude, he is excellent with the kids but really struggles with intimacy. He doesn't get th difference between sex a making lov, poor eye contact, not very demonstrative, very logical not very emotional. His mother is in denial but his dad is very odd and his sister is pretty bland and unemotional too. I just didn't see this weirdness prior to getting married with two dcs now who thank god are very tactile loving sociable souls. I did tell dh thought on autistic spectrum which caused him to not speak to me for a week. Oh an he can't handle anger at all and is very sensitive to noise.

Hi Gina, all the things you've listed could be AS. This might be helpful
http://www.aspia.org.au/pdf/Grigg_Is_There_Hope.pdf
Hope things improve for you.

amberlight Thu 18-Apr-13 20:42:28

My DH is aspie, as am I. He's gentle, generous, kind, thoughtful and absolutely wonderful. We have to use words to tell each other what we need and don't need...what we like and don't like. Being clear means that we get round the problem of not being able to 'see' one another. There is certainly nothing at all in autism that causes violence, manipulation, nastiness etc. Those are personality traits or signs of another condition altogether that might be alongside autism. It's different being married to an autistic person, but most are simply lovely.

MrsTwgtwf Thu 18-Apr-13 21:55:04

www.aspia.org.au/pdf/Grigg_Is_There_Hope.pdf

Just making Snap's link work. Ginga66, I've sent you some info in a PM - have a look in your Inbox at the top of your screen. smile

devilinside Thu 18-Apr-13 22:44:06

I have aspergers, and can usually tell what my children need, whereas my NT partner can't. Think it's a man/woman thing rather than an aspie/nt thing

MyNameIsSpecial Fri 19-Apr-13 21:13:23

I had typed a very long post full of examples and decided to delete it all.

There is certainly nothing at all in autism that causes violence, manipulation, nastiness etc. Those are personality traits or signs of another condition altogether that might be alongside autism.
No AS doesn't make a person violent or grumpy or nasty etc... However, a collateral of AS/ASD is depression and high anxiety. And as everyone knows, one of the signs of depression is high irritability, low threshold for anything, incl these things that aspies can be so sensitive about like noise.
So saying that there is no relation is a bit quick. There is a strong correlation between them even though these behaviours are not caused by the ASD as such.

It's different being married to an autistic person, but most are simply lovely.
Being lovely isn't always enough though.
It is well known that aspie can find it hard to understand the 'rules' of the NT world. That living in a world that asks them to be and behave in a different way that they would naturally do IS hard (and creates lots of anxiety). Well the opposite is true. Being able to understand how an aspie thinks and reacts IS hard for an NT person and a big source of stress. It is perhaps harder because they are asked to switch from one way of 'being' (AS) to another (NT) in a matter of seconds, esp if they have NT children in the mix.

And all that is when both partners know about the AS. A lot of people who are in their late 30s~40s have never being diagnosed because it didn't exist at the time and there was less awareness. So we have men with AS who don't know about it and have never been taught tools to cope with the NT world. And women who don't know about AS, interpretate their partner's reaction as if they were NT which means they feel hurt and stressed. (eg DH, once he has started talking about his special interest, never knows when the stop).
What a mix!

I am not advocating people to self diagnose their partners and put all unacceptable behaviour under the AS umbrella and to just cope with it. Nor am I saying that you can't have a nice and lovely life with an aspie.
But the reality is that for some couples it will be very hard to find a way to be together that works both for aspie and the NT partner. And their relationship will involve more grumpiness than in more 'normal' couples (id there is such a thing anyway).
That's why telling people 'Oh if he is grumpy, nasty..., then he is just a nasty person it's just part of who he is and LTB btw isn't helpful mio. Facing that sort of issues where there is a possibility of ASD, then surely the first step should be to confirm that, try to make it work in the light of that possibility and then take a decision.

amberlight Fri 19-Apr-13 22:17:46

Well yes, sometimes being lovely isn't enough. It's a good start, though, eh?

But there again, of the neurotypical marriages I'm aware of with friends, 70% have major problems at the moment (sample size, 42).

I'm concerned about anything that correlates autism with nastiness or emotional draining. I'm autistic and a Government adviser on autism for the country, working with the National Autistic Society and most other major organisations in the UK, if that puts me in context.
If a couple aren't coping with one another, it's fair and right that they take a wise decision on it. That can happen.

But it's hell on many autistic people to be unable to see the emotions that others convey with body language, tone of voice, eye contact, gesture, proximity, etc ....and then be told that we're failures in relationships. I'm not for one moment saying that's the case in this particular example.

But there are a lot who read this type of thing...refuse then to befriend or form relationships with us, send us hate mail and even become violent towards us. 75% of autistic people don't have a single friend. Only 15% are given the chance to get a job. 80% have experienced bullying and violence, sexual abuse and poverty.

Most are lovely. But socially clumsy.
Some also have mental health conditions etc which can lead to difficult behaviours. Those mental health conditions are caused by a lifetime of intense pain and fear. vimeo.com/52193530 shows you what even entering a cafe is like for 8 out of 10 of us. The knack is to tolerate the intense pain whilst also being 100% attentive of our partners. Not many of us manage it.

That is why I'm very very positive about autism. By heck we try to love people, generally speaking. If being lovely isn't enough, then that's fair enough. But there are so many very very good partners and friends out there. If you've got an autistic partner who isn't willing to try, it's fair that you part company. If you have one who simply can't see you properly, it's fair to take that into account.

jogalong Fri 19-Apr-13 22:37:39

Will youlistentome i am in the exact same boat as you. Ds has recently being diagnosed and now i can tell this is what is wrong with my dh. I feel so unloved and cheated. Dh is so ignorant Im social settings and i know my family are very uncomfortable around him. He has very little insight into this and when i tell him he just doesn't care and really doesn't care about the impact this has on me.
I feel like i have a right to be loved but Dh just can't love me like this. I sometimes feel that id any man even looked side ways at me then id jump on him. That's how desperate i am for someone to make me feel special.
Sorry Im rambling. I hope you get my drift

thewhistler Sat 20-Apr-13 08:08:20

Jog, about to pm you.

thewhistler Sat 20-Apr-13 08:48:09

Completely agree with Amber that there is a huge difference between AS and ArSe.

The difficulty as we all know is that for NTs sometimes the comments made by AS partners can be hard to distinguish from ArSe, when they are not, and sometimes they are ArSe ish, just as all people can be.

And on the other side, the anxieties are huge.

It's a minefield both sides.

MyNameIsSpecial Sat 20-Apr-13 14:06:07

Agree about trying to highlight all the positive in ASD and about the fact that failure in an AS/NT marriage is about the 'incompatibility' of 2 persons, perhaps regardless of the AS.

But it is true that, from the NT pov, leaving a marriage because you can't communicate with your partner and you know one the major hurdle is the AS... then it actually means you are leaving because of your partner disability. Very hard to do, even harder when you have a dc who is on the spectrum too (as it is the case for me). How can I say I can't leave with DH because I can't communicate etc etc and then hope for a happy, normal married life for my ds? Is that not hypocritical?

What I don't agree is when people come on here, list a number of things that can either be attributed to just being nasty or be linked to AS (because as you say, one of the collateral is depression and anxiety which is ever so hard for the aspies), then telling people off for even mentioning it is perhaps the wrong way to go about it.

Highlighting that AS/ASD doesn't mean being nasty, Or that some AS behaviours could look nasty but actually aren't IS good.
But at no point it should stop people from looking into it. Because maybe they will find that their partner is just plain abusive. Or maybe they will find they are somewhere on the spectrum. Or maybe they have just some traits. In anyway, knowledge will always be helpful for the person to take a decision re leaving and/or adapting behaviour (which is a necessity is an AS/NT relationship).

Ime, I looked at AS a long time ago for DH. Talked about it on here. Got a right bollocking for even mentioning it. So I assume he was just abusive. I tried to leave but couldn't. Do you know why? Because deep down, I knew that he was a nice kind man who wasn't there to impose his will but someone who was struggling and anxious. It took me another few years before I could sort it out ion my own head, see the AS, broach the subject with him. And for him to see that yes he is on the spectrum just as is his own dad.
If I hadn't been told off the way I did at the time, I wouldn't have wasted a couple of years trying to do things that had no chance to work (eg talking about feelings and putting him on the spot).
And if, by any chance, I had just gone with MN flow and just said 'Oh he is abusive' I would never have learnt as much as I did about AS and then see it my own ds (who has no meltdowns at school so would never have been spotted there).

That's why I really believe in giving the info to people. telling them 'Yes it * could* be AS or it could just be abuse'. Read about it, get your head straight, have a word about it with your partner (who might be rejecting the idea altogether btw) and then decide. As an adult, people are very unlikely to see they have AS traits if it's not spelled out to them (or they have a dc with AS and can then make the relationship)

MyNameIsSpecial Sat 20-Apr-13 14:07:55

By heck we try to love people, generally speaking. If being lovely isn't enough, then that's fair enough. But there are so many very very good partners and friends out there. If you've got an autistic partner who isn't willing to try, it's fair that you part company. If you have one who simply can't see you properly, it's fair to take that into account.

YY to that. my Dh is a kind, generous man. He IS trying his best.
It's just sometimes his best still like not enough for me.
And this is even harder to deal with actually.

crazyhead Sat 20-Apr-13 14:43:33

I don't have a partner with AS, so I'm not going to give advice but I am going to ask a question.

You obviously know your partner well and seem clear that he isn't going to change massively. You are also clear you love him. But my question is whether you are actually fundamentally happy and satisfied by your marriage and whether you ever truly have been?

My experience has been of being in several relationships that never gave me what I needed and then my current relationship which is profoundly satisfying. I suppose I don't believe that you can fix things that were broken in the first place, only ones where there was an underlying rightness for you at some stage - regardless of AS or anything else.

knitknack Sat 20-Apr-13 16:39:20

My dad had aspergers, and similar to the poster up thread my poor mother... I don't know how she coped (well, I do actually - badly! There were bouts of depression and anxiety. He'd swept her off her feet, she was his obsession, but he couldn't sustain it and soon moved on to other obsessions leaving her confused and depressed I think - she died too young or me to talk to her about it). Thing is dad was depressed and anxious too and I'm sure it's because he had a family... I've no doubt he loved us - he showed it all the time in practical ways, espeally when mum died very young. But emotionally he was hopeless. He wasn't a very good husband, bless him, I think he'd have agreed with that (he died recently too, also relatively young in his sixties). He was certainly much happier living on his own with his routines and strange eating habits clearly in place and uninterrupted.... He missed mum to bits, and loved my brother and I, he just found life much, much easier on his own.

The point of all this ramble is to say that I think it's about expectations - what you and your children can expect of him. My brother and I were both damaged by the.... oddness, I suppose, of certain aspects of our childhood (I think anyone with an asper parent can identify with that!) so make sure that your children have realistically expectations of him too. It would've been far better for us to understand that he couldn't cope with our noise or movement or showing affection, for example, we wouldn't have interpreted it in the way in which we did (as anger, or dislike). I'm sorry, I hope that's not too hard to hear. It's only my experience, I do know that.

MyNameIsSpecial Sat 20-Apr-13 17:41:48

It would've been far better for us to understand that he couldn't cope with our noise or movement or showing affection, for example, we wouldn't have interpreted it in the way in which we did (as anger, or dislike).

Yes I found that too both myself as partner and with my dcs. It's always heartbreaking to see a dad who is trying to give a cuddle to his child (who is asking for it!0 but can only managed it at arms length.

That's why I think that spreading the word about AS is essential. The very positive bits about it (as you said you dad loved you and your mum) and the more difficult ones too.

knitknack Sat 20-Apr-13 17:44:50

There ARE positives - at dad's funeral there was standing room only in the church and we've only lived in this area for 4 years - he was just so HELPFUL, in a quiet, PRACTICAL way. I'm still grieving, it was a very real love. Sweeter in some ways for its tricky beginnings.

SorryMyLollipop Thu 25-Apr-13 06:14:41

OP , in answer to your question I think it can work but it is very, very hard work.

For me, by the time we realised that my STBXH had AS, too much emotional damage had already been done and we were too broken to mend us.

The main problem was parenting, I felt like I had an extra DC who couldn't be trusted with the actual DC, I was hyper-vigilant all the time because I was trying to protect them from emotional damage. I would build them up emotionally and he would knock them down and undo all my hard work and I would have to start again - exhausting!!

I too felt cheated and totally let down. I didn't have the strength or the will to carry on so I ended the marriage. The diagnosis of AS explained the past to me but also it painted a bleak future with little prospect of things getting any easier.

If we had known ten yrs earlier we could maybe have overcome it, but like I said, too much damage had been done.

He copes well with having the DC alternate weekends as it is relatively small(er) doses. He is a much better, much more confident, more involved, more relaxed dad now than he ever was before. He has a new GF and he told her from the start that he has AS so hopefully it won't be so destructive for their relationship.

I now get a proper break every other weekend. Actual time to myself smile (36hrs and counting....)

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