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Asberger DW?(15 Posts)
Any advice gratefully appreciated because I am desperate.
I am 12 years married. DW has always seemed to me a bit slow to 'get' social situations often to her detriment. Before we had children, this wasn't a problem for us because we spent all our time together. Since then (elder child is 8, younger 5) we have had many arguments - not significant in itself perhaps, but it is the nature of them is. It is hard to describe what is wrong, but I will simply say that talking something through with her is like talking something through with an alien from another planet. Working something through with her is absolutely laborious and far more so than anyone else I've ever known well.
Someone whose opinion I respect says she thinks my DW has Asbergers. I doubt my DW would take at all kindly to that suggestion, so I don't imagine I will mention it to her, but it would be useful in finding coping strategies for myself.
Here are some characteristics of my DW, some positive, some not. I would appreciate comments about whether they demonstrate asbergers or not:
- she frequently misunderstands what I or someone else has said
- she misreads social situations
- she misunderstands instructions, to the extent that she lost her job and her career last year
- she is a keen cyclist and spends about 20 hours a week exercising and cycling; she used also to be keenly religious (while she still goes to church, it's not her raison d'etre any longer)
- she is alternatively very affectionate or very scolding towards the children but never .. just .. neither - me also - it is all praise / blame / praise / blame.
- she finds it hard to concentrate on more than one job at a time
- she takes very definate moral views and never nuanced ones
- she is very quick with names - she has called me an anti-Catholic bigot, a misogynist, cruel, irrational, overly-rational, a liar, and various others, and yet shortly afterwards it can be as if she has said nothing at all, almost as if we haven't had a row.
- she is very kind and attentive in situations where someone is injured, or requires help in some way (probably me excepted); situations basically where there is clearly moral good in the act.
- she will flare up if I ask her for help e.g with housework of keeping things tidy, regardless of how tactfully I ask - in fact I don't know how to ask her in a way she finds tactful, which is not a problem I have with other people.
We have just had another row in which she has accused me of being controlling about money. I don't even have a bank account in my own name (she does). I am so upset that I am ready to leave.
I just really, really want to find a way through but I simply don't know where to start. We are already in counselling for the second time, and have had 5 sessions with the therapist. My DW thinks it's gone really well, but when I hear what she says in the sessions, it is almost as if she hasn't understood me at all.
I can't comment on the Asperger's, as I don't know enough about it. You sound like you are at the end of your tether. Do you want to work things out because you love her / for the children / because you are married and you think you should? If it is out of a sense of duty, then step back and begin to take care of yourself. You sound like you don't know which way to turn.
No-one can diagnose a person over the internet. Even if they could, how would a diagnosis help you? Whether her behaviour is because of a mental health issue, some fundamental personality trait or whether it's just a choice, if she has no intention of addressing or changing behaviour it doesn't make any material difference to the outcome. Plenty of selfish or abusive people seem not to 'understand' others when they're not getting their own way.
From what I understand of Aspergers (which is a neurological condition not a mental health one), only your first two points about literal misunderstandings and misreading social situations really relate to that; I wouldn't be too quick to ascribe all the behaviour you describe to that possibility.
TBH it sounds more like you're living with a female abuser, although yes a lot of what you describe fits the bill for that. Even if you get a diagnosis, it won't magically improve your relationship. I bet you've already established any coping mechanisms, as have your DC probably.
I can't offer any real advice. Only you know if you want to stay in your marriage or not. If you're still leaning towards the former I'd ask you to persevere at counselling. What happens during sessions when she talks in a way that makes you feel like she hasn't even heard you? Do you say that? What does the counsellor say? Don't forget that the counsellor's job isn't to fix the problem but simply to improve communication between you. If that's not happening it's because either your counsellor isn't very good or because your DW and you have a communication problem that isn't solvable for one reason or another.
Sorry OP you are having a tough time.
If you think it would help you cope and your DW would cooperate there is an online autistic spectrum rating questionnaire called the Cambridge or Baron Cohen test. Have a look. A high score increases the chance you have the condition.
It does help if you realize someone is incapable of empathy not being deliberately unkind. But if your marriage is to survive you need to talk about this openly.
sounds more like anger control issues here? There is only one person that can manage that anger the DW. I would try to sit down with her and discuss her outbursts when she is calm. Tell her you would like her to seek help for it ie GP and then take it from their see what GP thinks.
If you google AQ-50 you will get Simon Baron Cohen test anything scores over 32 out of 50 is possible but still not defo Aspergers it would be good if she could do that test before GP appointment and take it with her though.
It's a possibility I would consider, I am a female with HFA and the list is familiar in ways. I can't give any relationship advice because I have never managed to have a successful relationship, but I guess the important thing is whether she would consider herself as having an issue and whether she would seek help for it, Aspergers or not.
"I doubt my DW would take at all kindly to that suggestion, so I don't imagine I will mention it to her"
No behavioural problem gets fixed by saying nothing. Relying on finding ways to cope with being treated harshly whilst the person dishing out the harsh treatment gets to carry on regardless will simply damage your self-esteem even further than it already is.
By legitimising/excusing the behaviour with a name like aspergers the real risk is you'll head down the 'she can't help herself' dead-end. Then you're in all kinds of trouble.
Was she always so antisocial, angry and so forth OP? Or has she got worse over time?
Thanks everyone for the replies.
I ran away from this thread after I began it. I really am at the end of my tether and completely at sixes and sevens. When things are bad, I hope they will improve - and they tend to. Right now, things are frosty, but after she has had her morning exercise, they could be absolutely fine, and when they are I feel so relieved that I don't have to think about any of this.
I posted this thread because I was surprised at the suggestion, but thought that if perhaps it was true I could find a way of understanding my DW and fixing up our relationship.
I feel absolutely trapped. For the last few years my life has been work and kids at home. I frequently need a shoulder to cry on - but I don't, and that is that. I have no friends, and if I did chose to leave - which part of me dearly wants to do - I would have nowhere to go without making some arrangement with a relative stranger.
I want to work things out because the alternatives seem worse. The kids seem happy. I adore them and do not want to be responsible for harming them. Yes I love my DW - in the sense that I am heavily emotionally involved in her.
I shouldn't give the impression that I'm getting bullied- if DW picks an argument I will respond. The most recent occasion was in front of the kids. I used not to respond, but the result was that the kids would assume DW was telling the truth because I wasn't contradicting her. So now I will have the row, even if they are present. I hate it.
I have heard she was pretty bad in her teens, but for the first half of our marriage we had few problems. Things got much tougher once children turned up. She tends to worry a good deal, and she also tends to focus on one thing at once, so she found looking after young children really tough although I did help her as much as I could. Now the children are a bit older, it is as if our relationship hasn't repaired.
My friend is a special needs teacher and he said the term Aspergers is no longer used so much because everyone is on the autistic spectrum just some more so than others.
Personally I think I sound a bit like your wife, I love my husband but I'm frustrated that he doesn't have a life away from me or help more (he works loads).
It's an utter myth that 'everyone is on the spectrum'. Complete and utter nonsense and I wish people would stop bandying it about.
You have to meet strict criteria to be diagnosed, and Aspergers is no longer a term used in diagnosis, you can be diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Classic Autism. These are very often co-morbid with other issues, ADHD, Dyspraxia etc.
I can say this with a bit of knowledge on the subject, as my eldest has High Functioning Autism (once called Aspergers) and Tourettes, and my youngest has severe Classic Autism.
I wouldn't necessarily say your wife meets all the criteria, although certainly social difficulties are a red flag. You could Google the 'triad of impairments' for further info on Autistic traits but no one can diagnose over the internet.
It's clear you're very down and understandably so at the situation, and I'm sure you don't need to be told that arguing a lot in front of your children isn't healthy for them to have to see.
There is no magic wand or advice anyone can give you, your wife clearly has issues she needs to work through, would she be willing to sit down and talk things through calmly with you?
I do think it would be helpful for you to have someone in RL to discuss these issues with, if your wife isn't willing to discuss or change things then I think you need to be able to decide what your path will be from there, focussing on what is best for you and your children in the long term.
I wish you luck and hope you can resolve things.
if DW picks an argument I will respond. The most recent occasion was in front of the kids. I used not to respond, but the result was that the kids would assume DW was telling the truth because I wasn't contradicting her. So now I will have the row, even if they are present.
Arguing in from of your children needs to stop, what you view as standing up for yourself they will view very differently. Children often view the discourse between parents as something they caused and therefore something they are responsible for.
This relationship is unhealthy and the longer you stay in it without improvement in DW behaviour and/or the dynamic between you, your children will suffer. This is their childhood and you and your wife's marriage their relationship role model. As unfair as the current situation is for you it is worse for them as they can not do anything about it, as children they are at the mercy of the good decisions and examples of the adults around them.
The above wasn't me having a go, I am not in your shoes but I was in a dysfunctional relationship and I put up with a lot but knew DD shouldn't have to and that was my responsibility.
I have aspergers and one or two points on your list could apply to me, but generally what you describe is someone being a knob to their family. I don't think there is any correlation between neurological disorders and knobishness.
Sorry OP, my last post was really defensive and stroppy. I just get really upset that abusive behaviour and aspergers are frequently lumped together.
Not multitasking, obsessive interests, misreading social situations etc may be indicative of an ASD, but most of your list is a description of a bully who feels entitled to treat you with disrespect and contempt.
People with ASD are not incapable of empathy. It is hard for people with ASD to remember that other people think and feel differently to themselves (cognitive empathy), so the emotional reactions of others may need to be explained, but once that explanation has been given it is very easy to empathise (emotional empathy). There are recent studies that indicate that people with ASD have much more emotional empathy than neurotypical people, which they find overwhelming and often 'shut down' in response.
Anyway, what i'm saying is, the problem with your DW has nothing to do with a diagnosis of ASD, and everything to do with lack of respect and consideration. If she does have ASD this should not prevent her from treating you kindly or understanding the effects of bullying behaviour on others.
There are a few threads in 'relationshiops' at the moment that deal with bullying behaviour in partners, and there is some really good advice on how to deal with it.
I hope things improve for you and your family.
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