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Living with someone who has Asperger's

(11 Posts)
Terabithia Thu 23-Mar-17 15:27:28

Forgive me for the essay I'm about to write, I just need to offload!

I've been with my partner almost five years. He has Asperger's Syndrome. Although it has never been formally diagnosed, I've spent my whole adult life working with autistic adults and I'm in no doubt whatsoever that he has AS; he agrees, but doesn't feel the need to seek a professional diagnosis.

I realise that his AS causes him to think differently than I do. I understand that social niceties and small talk can be challenging, and that he can take things too literally. Sometimes I find it hard to remember that I have to be specific with him, that he won't pick up on hints, or react in the way I might expect.

Four years ago, he had to give up his salaried job due to a traumatic incident. I'd only been with him for a few months at the time. He decided to go self-employed, and I supported this decision. His line of work is very specific and we knew it may not work out as there might not be enough clients.

Unfortunately the demand for his services has been low. I spoke to him about taking a part-time job, which he did - he found a summer-only minimum wage job. I thought that would help, but it then emerged that he'd been accruing debt so everything he earned went towards paying this off (I have seen paperwork so know this to be true).

Four years later, and he is living in my house rent-free, still trying to be self-employed and still on an extremely low income. He pays no bills, I buy most of the food. If we go out (which I like to do sometimes), I always pay for the petrol, food, cinema... whatever we choose to do. I love him to bits, I'm attracted to him, I enjoy spending time with him and my daughter (from a previous marriage) thinks the world of him. However, resentment is starting to build up inside me.

He's applied for a handful of jobs with no success. AS difficulties with social interaction mean that even if he reaches the interview stage (as has happened a number of times), people often tend to take a dislike to him and that's as far as it gets.

What do I do? Do I continue to make allowances for his Asperger's, hoping that he'll be successful at an interview one day? What happens if he's not? The immense responsibility I feel of having to earn enough to support the three of us is starting to become wearing.

This afternoon I asked him to clear the bedroom floor. There was stuff of his everywhere and I wanted to vacuum. He told me it was done, but when I went upstairs he'd just piled it all on the bed in a huge mountain. Most people, surely would have realised that I meant to sort it out or put it away?

I felt like crying, and out of nowhere I found myself having a go at him about the job situation and the responsibility I feel. He went very quiet and left the room. He's been upstairs alone ever since, and I can hear that he's sorting out boxes, or something.

Now I don't know what to do! If he wasn't Aspergic, I'd go up and try to talk to him calmly about it, and apologise for yelling. But I know that if I do that, he won't respond or tell me what he thinks, so it'll all get swept under the carpet yet again. sad

I hope this all makes sense, sorry if it doesn't.

CancellyMcChequeface Thu 23-Mar-17 15:50:54

That sounds like a really difficult situation. I don't know how to advise you on the financial/relationship aspects, but I will say that as someone with AS, if someone has a go at me and shouts (even with very good reason) it's emotionally overwhelming and I shut down and go quiet/non-communicative too. It probably comes across as sulky but I honestly can't discuss the issues rationally, admit to fault or come up with a plan of action while I'm overwhelmed.

I know that about myself, so I usually say 'can we discuss this tomorrow'? So bringing it up at a calmer time (and apologising for yelling then if you want to) may work better for your partner than trying to discuss the issues further today.

I have the same problem of producing very good job applications on paper and then interviewing badly. I wish there were a solution. I really hope you and your partner can work things out.

Terabithia Thu 23-Mar-17 16:20:04

Thank you CancellyMcChequeface (love your username!), your reply really helps me to see things from my partner's perspective. I have taken your advice; I've apologised for shouting and suggested that we leave things for today and approach the subject tomorrow. Now I've come back downstairs to give him more space. smile

samuelpeeps Thu 23-Mar-17 16:36:14

The employment situation is unacceptable and it needs addressing immediately. You have my full sympathy.

But, people with AS need a lot of support to get into and stay in employment.
He needs to get a DX weather private or NHS and then try to get interviews under the guaranteed interview scheme, due to his disability.

This poor man will have so many struggles that you won't even begin to understand.

Also, you need to make sure you have realistic expectations of him.
You can't expect an AS person to to act or think in an AS way.

Having Aspergers is so lonely.
You look normal, you come across as intelligent - so expectations are high and allowances are low.

Some autism charities can provide counselling for couples to help understand one another and work on communication.

It must be very hard for you caring for him and accommodating, just as it is for my partner doing the same for me.


samuelpeeps Thu 23-Mar-17 16:50:33

Expect NOT to act in an AS way, that should have said.
I have re read your post and I feel so sad for him. He will not understand what he has been doing wrong.
He really needs to get some support and so do you

Terabithia Thu 23-Mar-17 21:23:43

Thank you samuelpeeps, I really appreciate you taking the time to reply.

I do try to understand, I really do, but I find it very hard as he cannot tell me how he feels, and is I think often not aware that he approaches things in a different way than someone without AS. So we are both in the situation where we do not know exactly how the other person thinks. That's why it's very helpful to hear the opinions of others who have AS, it can help me to understand how he views the world.

I have tried to be as supportive as I can but I'm aware that I've not even nearly done that in a perfect way. At the moment I just feel very tired and low. I need to somehow find the energy to sort this situation out.

samuelpeeps Thu 23-Mar-17 21:33:23

I think you need to really look after yourself, and not feel guilty for it.
I know my partner really feels the strain and I encourage him to do whatever he likes to relax or have a break.

I think he needs to educate himself about Aspergers so he really really understands himself and he can develop coping strategies, check lists, questions to ask himself - so that he is making sure he meets your needs as you deserve.

He needs to understand that you are not happy and there ARE things he can do to make you happier.

He could make a list of things he needs more clarification on and you will both get into the habit of communicating in a clear way for you both.

That said, AS In men and women is very different so my advice may not be the best.

There is a thread on OTBT 'cassies' for the partners of (usually) men with AS. They may be able to support you more.

My partner really struggles with 'not knowing what he was getting himself into' as I was not DXed at the time we met. He feels a bit short changed.
Do you have any similar feelings?

samuelpeeps Thu 23-Mar-17 21:36:40

My partner says 'put the kettle on' and every single time, over all these years I have just clicked it on.
Apparently, that means you should make the tea!
I have been told again and again.
But even though I know, it shows how my brain works and how I take instructions.
We laugh about it but when he is worn out, even that is intolerable.

So that kind of gives you an idea of why you need to look after yourself as it will help you tolerate him. Xx

PolterGoose Thu 23-Mar-17 21:41:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AllIwantforchristmas2017 Sun 03-Dec-17 16:24:30

I think you should encourage him to go to the doctor and get diagnosed. He could get pip, esa, tax credits boost, you could get carers allowance.

Cutesbabasmummy Wed 09-May-18 10:39:10

I might get flamed for this but... my DH has aspergers. He was diagnosed 3 years ago. He's now 46 and has struggled most if his life. The assessment revealed that he is extremely intelligent. We've been married 9 years today and together for 12 years. We have a 3 year old son who has no signs of aspergers. I do have to be quite specific if I ask him to do things and I've learned a lot over the years. However, he puts on loads of washing without being asked, changes our sheets, pegs out washing, hoovers, ckeans the bathroom and will cook dinner now and again. I think your other half is actually being lazy. And aspergers isn't an excuse for that.

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