Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Aspergers DH - my pros and cons list - sorry it is long(26 Posts)
I've had a couple of threads on here over the last year or so. I am trying to decide what to do about my marriage of 17 years. In the last 12 months DH has been diagnosed with Aspergers (as has DD). DS and I are possible on the spectrum too. DH and I have been seeing a counsellor who specialises in ASD in marriages. I feel very torn about the future of our relationship - so much is so good and yet every now and then we stumble over a land mine. I am literally going to make a pros and cons list to help me organise my thoughts and would be so grateful for anyone's input.
I love him.
We have a great sex life
He makes me laugh - we have heaps of private jokes, funny memories etc
He is the person I want to see and tell about my day when I get home from work.
He loves the DC and is particularly close to DD.
He is the person I want to discuss with anything that happens on the news etc.
We have read lots of the same books, had very similar educations - have enormous intellectual compatibility.
He is 100% behind me, believes I can do anything.
When my dad was dying I was in another city and just needed DH to be with me. He took the DC to his sisters and jumped on a plane to be with me and support me.
This year we sat together with his mum as she died.
He is very kind to others - will lend anyone anything, drive anyone anywhere etc
He makes me feel good about myself even though I am aging and still carrying too much weight
We can be very good at making big decisions together - eg the other day we only needed a 2 minute conversation to agree to upgrade our car. Both understanding the other's point of view.
He is kind and caring to my extended family who love him
I dearly love his sisters
He gets very frustrated with the DC, particularly DS and has
in my view unrealistic expectations of them.
He comes out with occasional very damaging statements to them . Recently we were trying to have a family discussion about them helping more in the house and he announced that the problems in our marriage are all caused by their lack of housework
He can be very grumpy and short of temper (ASD adult meltdowns?). This year for the first and only time he threatened DD with violence. I asked him to leave which he did. He apologised to her and has acknowledged that it was dreadful and must never happen again. I am confident that it will not.
He is grumpy and occasionally goady with DS and never acknowledges the good things that DS does.
DS has lost respect for him because of his short temper.
He comes up with really mad and unworkable plans that don't take anyone else's needs or reality into account. I end up being the mean person refusing to go along with the plans and he sulks if he does not get his way.
He argues small points for ages and I have to choose between giving in or ending up squabbling or bickering for hours which I hate.
He is incredibly disorganised, loses and forgets vital documents and has a tendency to hoarding.
Lots more I could say but I think this is the main stuff.
I think the questions you need to ask yourself are:
Does he make you happier/content more often than sad/upset?
Is the family generally more often a positive environment than a negative one?
Would you and the dc miss him and feel your quality of life and happiness would be diminished if he wasn't a permanent part of your lives?
All families make mistakes and have arguments - how you recover from them is what's important.
Is your ds becoming a teenager? Lots of dads and teen boys have enormous difficulty communicating. It may be that this can be tackled in therapy. More attention to routine and set chore lists might help on the housework front. Knowing his triggers will help all of you.
I know he has only been diagnosed with Aspergers in the last 12 months, But whether your label it or not, these traits will have always been there, and not just appeared because of his diagnosis.
All his positives and negatives should have been there just as early on in the relationship, and prior to you having children surely?
I would say his pro's definitely out weigh the cons looking at this list (and I'm sure he could make a list about you too). You can't change some of his cons, they come with the territory of his aspergers.
I think it is just understanding how to react to these cons... and with 12 years experience I'm sure you have a bit of an idea? (especially with the support of the counselor)
Yes, the hermitcrab this is what DH says. He says I knew what he was like and have stayed with him this long, why would I suddenly have enough? I try to tell him that he can't see what he can't see. That sometimes he inadvertently really hurts me or the kids. That I am tired of having social arrangements suddenly derailed without discussion. I put so much energy into smoothing everything and facilitating everyone, I am just very weary.
The counsellor listened to us bickering for 15 minutes about who would take DS to basketball and just said ' it shouldn't be this hard.' It is too boring to explain why we were arguing but Dh suddenly raised the bar and made it all really difficult.
DS is indeed 16 and the tension between them has flared as he has got older. Although DH has just never had good strategies for dealing with him, even when he was a challenging toddler.
This is the only marriage I have had - or intend to. I just have lost all sight of what is normal, unacceptable or just domestic irritation.
Usually if a partner is not being a very nice person, or is being hard work, or doing something unacceptable then it would be a lazy and selfish response to say "You knew what I was like" But I really do agree with him in this instance.
Obivously he can't use his aspergers to be unreasonable and unbearable for the sake of it, and threats of violence is never acceptable. Many people live with aspergers without it affecting anyone else but themselves, others particularly struggle with social and communication aspects every day.
Judging by your pros list your really have a connection, and genuinely cares for you, and he isn't being hard work or nasty for the sake of it, it's simply part of his condition, and something you need to both work on as a team to find a best way to meet both your needs.
That sometimes he inadvertently really hurts me or the kids Unfortunately it is a common trait for someone with Aspergers or Autism, lack of realisation what their words mean to others or empathy towards others. As you say, it's inadvertent, and even if he apologises for the lack of awareness, likelihood is he will do it again, because he won't understand what he is saying is particularly hurtful, until the hurt is done and you've told him.
The bickering about basket ball - what was the actual bicker? You shouldn't have to back down to him because he always has to have his way, but are these small things really worth the argument, The counselor saying "It shouldn't be this hard" really isn't helpful. You both know it shouldn't be, that's why you are there.
All right you asked for the basketball story!
DS has just resumed basketball after several years not playing. He has joined a club which is based about a 45 minute drive away. I had assumed that DH would take him to some matches and I would take him to others. DH suddenly announced that he wanted to attend every single match. This means that if I want to come we have to also bring DD who because of her own ASD, hates the noise and atmosphere of basketball. I said that this was not fair- DH insisting on attending every match means that I either can't go, or else we are making DD come to something which she doesn't enjoy and may have her own meltdown about. I said that sometimes I would enjoy just getting calmly into the car with Ds and taking him myself. DS had also said to me that he hoped I would watch some of his matches.
I kept saying to Dh that his insistence on seeing every game was not taking anyone else's needs into account. He just couldn't see it.
It's good that your DH wants to see every game, especially if his relationship with DS has suffered because of his Aspergers. You say that He is grumpy and occasionally goady with DS and never acknowledges the good things that DS does.
The fact he is so eager to go to EVERY game really does show he appreciates the talents and achievements of DS, which is great, but bloody inconvenient because as you say, he's gone stubborn and full circle and now you can't go!.
I'm presuming there is no other family or "babysitter" for your DD so that when you want to go there is someone to be around for her so that you, your DH and DD can all enjoy the game?
As the counsellor specialises in cases like yourself, it's pretty fruistrating for them to be saying ""It shouldn't be this hard" because the whole point is that aspergers in families can make this simple things, so difficult, and the point of the counselling sessions is to find positive ways to approach these situations to suite everyone.
The counselor really should have given you advice on this, not just watched you bicker.
No, no other family and DD (12) has been suffering from depression so we don't like to leave her on her own for long periods. It is great that DH wants to see every game.
The counsellor did help us work out a compromise for last week's game. Oddly we first met the counsellor 5 years ago when his son played basketball with DS.
The thing about the inadvertently hurting people or making a social occasion difficult is that it does erode how I feel about him. I just find so many things so wearing. I made the mistake of looking on the net and there are many, many tired and angry partners of Aspie men, who are at the end of their tether. I just feel sad that this is my tribe and this is my life.
Hopefully this is a compromise that you can continue to work on?
Living with aspergers is hard and living with someone with aspergers equally so.
Hopefully the counselling will help towards methods that can help the family cope with your DH and your DD as she gets older too!
The way I see it is he loves the DC but isn't a particularly good Dad, and he seems to have favoured DD over DS (you mention he is very close to DD on pro list but the con list has a lot of negatives about how he is with DS)
I guess it's whether or not the "pros" make up for the effect this all has on your children.
Yes he sounds amazing with you, pretty shit with the kids though!
saffron I don't have direct experience of this but can see you are in this for the long haul and as counselling has helped I think it makes sense to prolong it as long as you can afford it.
The way I see your Pro's list, is that DH is all of the things on it because he chooses to be, and that there are things that he likes about you. On the Con's list, are the things that DH doesn't agree with, or want to do, or doesn't get his own way on. I suspect that he will not even believe the counsellor if a certain behaviour is identified as unreasonable.
The favouritism of DD over DS worries me. I am not convinced that he wants to see DS playing basketball in order to praise him for his achievement, but because he can go to enjoy himself and possibly pull him up on what he perceives are faults.
Have you tried visualising what your life would be like if you were separated and he was living elsewhere? Would it be better or worse for you and each of the DC? Is DH clearly aware that the marriage is at risk and this isn't a temporary situation; and would it change the outcome of the counselling?
Just one thought: you seem to be taking responsibility for your DH's relationships with his DC. Can you stop thinking of yourself as a go-between, and let them establish their relationships?
I'm speaking from a NT POV, but with long experience of an emotionally absent father (NT as far as I know) and a martyred mother who tried to mediate our relationships with our father (and other relatives if it comes to that). In my generation, my sister & I have tried not to let that happen, and let our partners establish their own relationships with their DCs -- and they reap what they sow. That's hard to watch, but necessary to let happen, IMO.
What struck me about your list is that most of your pros are about your relationship with each other and most of your cons are about his relationship with his children. Divorcing him gets rid of the relationship - so all the pros but the relationship with his children is still there and has to be dealt with so it doesn't do anything for the cons. In fact you'll have less control over how he interacts with his children.
You may want to google "parents with aspergers" just for a start, to see if there is anything that relates to him through that. There is a lot of info online.
simon we are Australian.
girly I think you have nailed it- DH often seems to me to be massively self centred, which is something often said about Asp husbands. He really pushes to get his own way but he would probably say this of me! Once he has an idea he cannot let it go because it is his idea, and therefore, in his mind wonderful.
I think if we separated the sum total of human happiness would be less. I always thought we would grow old and end our lives together. I would miss him desperately and the Dc would too. But we could have a straightforward domestic life with no arguing.
Sometimes I think we just have to live through the teenage years which are the hardest. His parenting skills are limited. He can be really lovely, sensitive, insightful and kind. Then he will just come out with the most awful comments and not realise that he is inflicting pain. He just does not know how to deal with conflict.
He accuses me of hanging onto resentments from the past. The reason I do this is because he will only apologise very grudgingly and I don't feel he is really sorry.
He accuses me of controlling his relationship with the DC and I take your point, upthe. I don't want to be an angry controlling martyr. I just do feel I have to step in when I can see it all going pearshaped and the DC getting hurt or disappointed.
I just do feel I have to step in when I can see it all going pearshaped and the DC getting hurt or disappointed
I suppose it depends on their ages. But if he is like that, he is like that, and at some point he and they will have to relate with each other directly and not through you. If you divorced that would be very much the case.
But separation needs to be about you & him, really.
From your description, OP, he seems utterly lovely but imperfect. Like most of us?
If the sum total is more positive with him than without him then its about finding the best way through the most difficult years. I am ill equipped to tell you what that is but I hope the counselling can.
Join the discussion
Please login first.