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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 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.

freddiemisagreatshag Mon 15-Apr-13 07:58:36

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?

freddiemisagreatshag Mon 15-Apr-13 09:14:51

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 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?

SnapCackleFlop Mon 15-Apr-13 09:35:09

Cogito - you might want to have a look at the information here

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.

freddiemisagreatshag Mon 15-Apr-13 11:11:29

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

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


"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.

freddiemisagreatshag Mon 15-Apr-13 13:33:35

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'!

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