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Asperger's and relationships (again)

(155 Posts)
MrsMiss Fri 27-Nov-15 12:36:27

I've been married for 10 years, and have four children, the youngest of whom is 3. Last year my husband was diagnosed with Asperger's. The psychiatrist said it was 'mild asperger's'. We'd waited a year for the diagnosis, and my dh refused to go for couples counselling until the diagnosis was made. In that time my mental health spiralled and I have had many points where I've felt at the end of my tether. I've been on anti-anxiety meds, and had counselling myself, and manage to drag myself to a place where I am now supposedly looking after myself.

I have good friends (none of whom know about the ASD), and have time away from the children (once a week I meet my friends for our 'sewing night' ) which is a big improvement on a couple of years ago where my life seemed to revolve around the young children, and I didn't have any time for myself.

We started seeing a relate counsellor in the Summer, but it wasn't great. We got lots of practical advice like maybe we could go on a weekend away, or ask for help blah blah blah… but nothing really addressing the issues within the relationship which are numerous.

Dh seems to think that the main problem is that we argue, and I shout and get angry. He would like to think we can compromise and have a rational discussion, but in truth, it is his way or nothing. He won't go out at all with other families or friends. He won't help out e.g. at the kids school, or cubs/beavers etc. It is hard to put across what it is like without it sounding like I'm being extremely unreasonable, wanting to have a certain life and having unrealistic expectations of him.

For me, I feel like I'm a single parent. He won't be part of a 'team'. He'll go out and buy presents for the children on his own, and arrange to do things with them on his own, for example when I'm out, but will have no part of 'sharing' anything as a family. He spends more time with our oldest daughter chatting and cooking etc than he does with me. I feel completely isolated, like a lodger in the house who has to serve all the people who live in the house, but otherwise keep out of the way and keep my thoughts and feelings to myself.

We've been on the same holiday for the last 10 years, we see one couple (his school friend and his wife) socially… I've carved out a new life with friends I've made through having the children, but dh won't have anything to do with them. He is rude to them - one husband of a friend asked if he'd like to join them (the other husbands) at a local pub quiz, and his flat response was 'no'.

When we initially got together he was very attentive and kind, and we were 'in love' and had the children in quick succession. Being pregnant 4 times has 'protected' me from the worst emotional problems if you like, because he has been 'on his best behaviour'. He did actually say that he couldn't cope if I was pregnant again. Now, he just doesn't speak to me. I feel that we job-share. Our responsibility is to look after the children, and we speak to share arrangements for the children. In the evening he can spend ours looking at videos and clips etc on his phone, and then will come to bed late. I try to carry on as normal, but am beyond lonely. I hate the constant atmosphere that he is oblivious to. He thinks if I'm not shouting, we're happy. I only shout out of complete exasperation, when I am completely worn down with his arguments, which are always logical and evidence-based and always right. Anything I say is just a waste of time.

We've been seeing a psychodynamic couples counsellor for a few months now, and it has been enlightening in some respects, but I'm just not sure she understands this asperger's thing. She sees it as a label, an unhelpful label, and thinks dh is no different from anyone else. That may be the case but he thinks he is different, and since he had the diagnosis it is as if all kindness and willingness to work together has evaporated, and I'm now supposed to accommodate what he calls his 'disability'. I've obviously tried the usual things - to communicate clearly, to be direct, to not expect him to want to be 'life and soul' of the party etc, but I can't cope with a life that is completely dictated by one person. I am trying to do my best for the children. I have supported them to join different groups and activities, to spend time with friends and other families even if I have to do it all on my own. Their friendships matter a lot to me, whereas I know dh wouldn't care if they never saw their friends.

I don't really know what I'm asking here, and I know that some people are going to tell me to leave him, and some people are going to say that I sound like a demanding monster. I wish I could get an objective view on whether I should continue to try to navigate through my emotions and the bleak loneliness and distress, and try to ignore every hope and dream I had of being a family and doing things together, or whether it would be a waste of my energy. I can't talk to people in real life about it all (he doesn't want them to know) and I worry that they wouldn't really understand anyway. I have times when I'd just like to walk away from it all. The children all show signs of similarity with dh, which makes it unbearable at times. I'm on egg-shells, dealing with tantrum after tantrum… just so lonely.

lougle Fri 27-Nov-15 13:06:26

Can he understand a discrete behaviour? Rather than describing how you feel, would he respond to "if I say X I need you to do Y"?

TheWrathofNaan Fri 27-Nov-15 13:11:54

Can I ask you a question?

I have a child with aspergers.

Do you feel loved 'back' by your husband and children or that you give, give, give and they take, take, take?

I am so lonely too.

MrsMiss Fri 27-Nov-15 13:18:23

If I say that I need a specific thing, he will argue that its all very well, but he needs x, y z and it's not fair… We were invited by a local friend to go to see her husband's band playing this week. I told him we'd been invited, and thought that rather than a meal or a party etc, it would be easy for us to 'dip out' if we (he) had had enough, plus knowing he likes music etc. I just thought it would be a nice evening. He said no, and when I tried to suggest that maybe he wouldn't love it but we could at least try it, he said, 'What part of no don't you understand?'.

No, I don't feel loved back by him. The children a bit more so. In the quieter moments they will tell me they love me, or do lovely things like make me a card or draw me a picture, and I know that they love me and miss me when I'm at work etc. The loneliness is just the hardest thing. I feel less alone when I'm on my own if that makes sense? If all the children are at school or out, and he is at work, although I'm on my own it is purposeful - I can get stuff done. its not the same as looking forward to Friday evening then remembering that he won't speak, won't want to watch a DVD, or chat, or have a drink, or go out, or even read together in silence. I'm on my own.

Coco7841 Fri 27-Nov-15 13:35:26

I agree with the therapist who said aspergers is label. Sure it describes a list of symptoms but a person can learn to be more sociable, they can learn to understand feelings better. The minute we justify these behaviours as a disability then it's the green card to excuse it.

The world has gone mad imo and wants to label everybody and fit them in little boxes. The fact is we are all different and variations of normal really.

Your choices are either accept his ways and the arguing should lessen, although you might be frustrated.

Tell him his ways aren't an excuse and you want to see an improvement

Or leave.

Labels create lazy people, it's not their faults they trust what they are told from professionals they trust.

A few weeks ago my son's school raised concerns my son may have aspergers. With my understanding of brain plasticity and behaviour I set to work. When out socially I encouraged him to speak with people, pay for himself in shops etc. We also worked on feelings, discussing them etc. Within 1 week he was showing more empathy, discussing his feelings and asking to pay for things himself and wanting to go call for friends. Had I just allowed the label and not tried then he wouldn't have changed would he?

I don't want to undermine illness. I know there are lots of illnesses that aren't mind over matter but sometimes the answer really is to learn new behaviours or change your thinking.

Memeto3boys Fri 27-Nov-15 13:36:38

Hello there. My Dh us autistic and my 2 eldest children are we have 3 children.

I have to say it can be a very lonely life being married to someone with autism. We tend to once a month sit down and basically go though a conversation about feeling unloved, about the lack of interest in the children and also his lack of help. Then he changes for a week or so then slips back. He never realizes hes slip back he never notices he's withdrawn again and we then sit down and have the same conversation. Unfortunately I don't think this will change his thoughts work different to mine. I have worked though in my own head and I know I love my husband I know he loves me we have issues but I won't let them ruin us. I think you need to work out yourself if you can continue to live the way you do. I don't think it will matter what you do I think you are unlikely going to get it to change.

TheWrathofNaan Fri 27-Nov-15 13:49:37


I totally disagree with you. I have an autistic child. They are wired differently. I can work and work and work with them but the default behaviour will always dominant my attempts to make change.

You can't 'cure' asd in week! Or make an asd person social or understand behaviours.

The way you talk frightens me.

PeppasNanna Fri 27-Nov-15 13:54:35

My dad & uncle have Aspergers, as does my brother. I have 2 son with ASD.

I strongly suspect my stbxp also has Aspergers.

People on the spectrum do think differently. Its not a label. Its a way of understanding a diffetent thought process.

I do not condider Aspergers to be a disability. My sons are very academically able. They do not have Special Needs. They have different needs.

Op, your post is so very very familiar to me. Your dh is the man , he is. Personally I've accepted that in my dp & decided to seperate.

Incredibly difficult. Its lonely & thankless. Put your own happiness first, for once.

PeppasNanna Fri 27-Nov-15 13:56:58

Personally i feelCoco has acquired lots of information relsting to ASD. To truly understand ASD is a different level that needs to be experienced rather than learnt.

kittybiscuits Fri 27-Nov-15 13:58:34

It is hugely helpful if the couples therapist understands Asperger's as this will be a massive benefit in the therapy. However your husband is only 50% of the relationship and your needs are just as important. You can set out minimum standards and leave the marriage if they aren't met. Aspergers or no aspergers.

christmascracker2015 Fri 27-Nov-15 14:08:01

I doubt you are going to get him helping out with school or beavers. Is this actually something that he needs to do? He probably is never going to want to socialise with groups of people either. You just have to think are you able to cope with that.

It is harder when you are down yourself, but he is unlikely to radically change.

LilyRose88 Fri 27-Nov-15 14:20:51

MrsMiss my heart goes out to you as my partner has Aspergers, diagnosed recently, and I recognise a lot of what you say in your post. I have two daughters from a previous relationship who are now grown up, and I honestly cannot imagine my partner coping with being a parent. It is very much 'his way or the high way' and he is completely unable to see anyone else's point of view. He can also appear extremely selfish as he does not see why he should do anything if he does not want to do it. The concept of doing something to please someone else is completely alien to him.

He spends hours downloading music from Youtube and converting it into music on his itunes library, constructing and labelling his albums, and he cannot function unless he does this every day. He also struggles with the world of work, as his behaviour is seen as 'maverick' to put it politely!

He hates socialising or going out, and lives the life of a hermit. I am far more sociable than he is, and yet I am not a great extrovert. He is rather proud of having Aspergers, as he likes to think that he is different and special.

At times it all gets too much for me, and I tell him that if he cannot change, we will have to split up. Having said all that, for some inexplicable reason I love him dearly, and so far we have always managed to patch things together. But there is something inside of me that thinks that we will split up at some time in the future, and I know that I have started to pull back from him emotionally. He hasn't picked this up, as he has virtually no intuitive skills.

I'm afraid that I don't have any magic advice. For us, what has helped is not focusing on the Aspergers as a label, but talking instead about behaviours and how it makes us (me!) feel. I do know that if I had met him when I was younger, I would never have had children with him, as he would not be able to cope with the demands of family life.

rogueantimatter Fri 27-Nov-15 15:05:16

I'm in a very similar situation. My Dh has undiagnosed Asperger's and isn't receptive to the idea that he isn't neurotypical. His mum, niece, DS and two nephews have it as well and recently I've realised I'm on that spectrum as well. Unlike him however, I try very hard and feel I've managed to develop emotionally and socially. I have social anxiety but I'm damned if I'm going to let it me stop doing things I'm interested in.

DH goes to meet up with friends about once a month and does almost nothing else. I look forward to him being away. As you say it's less lonely. I try not to expect anything from DH now. It's a bit easier now the DC are older teenagers.

The thing I find most hurtful is the fact that he never ever thinks about his relationships. He puts zero effort in.

And his utter lack of communication. He doesn't say hello when he comes in or goodnight when he goes to bed -he just disappears.The only thing that he says is cheerio when he goes to work in the morning. I think it's a way of reminding me that he's sacrificing himself by working for the family. He sits in the evening on the laptop or in front of the tv, often with earphones on. He wears earphones on the way home from work and doesn't take them off until after he's taken his coat and shoes off. There would be silence at the dinner table if I didn't initiate conversation and he scoffs his dinner quickly then goes into the sitting room as he doesn't like sitting at the table. Sometimes I or someone else will talk to him and he won't answer at all! And if they repeat themselves he is sometimes grumpy - I heard you the first time.

He almost never asks me how I am or about things I've been doing or my day. I don't even know if I like him any more.

He has a horrible attitude to gift -giving. He wants or feels duty bound to give birthday/Christmas presents that people will like. But they must tell him what they'd like and hope it's suitable. He gets annoyed if I ask for something practical even though I've explained that I don't want (our) money spent on me or anything else to further clutter the house.

He is exceptionally untidy too and thinks he's doing me a favour by occasionally picking up some of his clothes from the floor. His reasoning is that once I said very unkindly that I was no longer going to pick up his clothes off the floor - I remember it many years ago - I was absolutely calm and IMO in no way aggressive. I'd thought that instead of feeling resentful every day I would stop picking up. So he leaves stuff lying around for days on end before he picks it up. Many years later I called him on this - and he thought I was being bossy and unreasonable as I had 'asked him to pick up his dirty underwear and he now did'! Don't get me started on the way he occasionally stacks the dishwasher. It was only when after explaining to him that his scrambled egg pot and weetabix bowls are never washed by the dishwasher and worse the rest of the stuff gets covered in glued on starch, resulting in lots of stuff then needing to be washed I happened upon an article about dishwashers which said that no dishwasher can manage scrambled egg that he stopped putting the pot in.

I pride myself on not nagging. I never ever ask him to do anything more than once and I hardly ask him to do anything.

When I was in hospital (treatment for cancer) he'd sit about four feet away dozing off! It's awful. Once I was in a lot of pain at home and asked him to chat to me about anything to take my mind off it. He huffed and puffed a bit then proclaimed he couldn't think of anything at all to talk about. There were times when I'd be cooking and hurting my hands - peripheral neuropathy/slight loss of motor control I'd be burning myself and dropping stuff all over the place - but he'd still sit there doing nothing to help because on the rare occasion I asked for help there was a good chance he'd be grumpy.

The grumpiness is such a downer.

So I think I know how you feel! sad

Galvanised Fri 27-Nov-15 16:17:19

You can't change him. He can try to change, but genuinely might not be able to.
So that's what you have to work with. You need to decide what you want, see if it's achieveable within your relationship or not, and move from there.
We are a family with riddled with as/asd smile and it is very trying.
Coco- I hope you do a bit more reading on the subject, otherwise things will be very miserable for your son having a mother with that attitude.

Galvanised Fri 27-Nov-15 16:24:56

Ffs Choco, you've 'cured' your son's possible aspergers in a week by getting him to have a few interactions with shopkeepers?
Why didn't I think of doing that? All my problems solved..

Twgtwf Fri 27-Nov-15 16:28:46

To be fair, denial is the biggest obstacle in making things better with regard to Aspergers; for some reason, the strength of the denial is unbelievable. This would be improved if society had a much more open attitude, I imagine, and if diagnoses in adults were encouraged, not discouraged, by GPs.

I have more to post, OP, but am in a dash now. Back later. thanks

Hillfarmer Fri 27-Nov-15 17:08:31

However your husband is only 50% of the relationship and your needs are just as important. You can set out minimum standards and leave the marriage if they aren't met. Aspergers or no aspergers. This.

I am divorced. My husband was emotionally abusive and bullying. My younger dc was diagnosed with Asperger's a couple of years after we separated. Knowing much more about AS because of ds' diagnosis and talking to lots of professionals, I recognise a lot of AS traits in my XH. But he was still a shit. He still bullied and terrorised me even when we were doing Relate. He was rude and offensive to my friends and family, probably in a bid to isolate me and alienate them. He didn't like me having friends. He undermined and criticised me. He didn't care about my despair and hurt. He aso seemed to think that I would put up with it forever. So was that EA or Asperger's talking? Perhaps he was an emotionally abusive AS husband? Whatever, he made happy family life impossible. He continues to be shitty and hostile and made the divorce as unpleasant as possible. I don't know OP, whatever the 'diagnosis', your H is making your life really unhappy. You feel like a single parent - well why not try being one? It is really not as depressing as the life you are leading at the moment. At least that was my experience. The relief!

You are not a monster. You sound really distressed and lonely, and plus, you have done all you can to try to regain your relationship. I don't think you deserve to live like this. The diagnosis of AS does not let him off the hook as a husband or a human being. Plus - and this felt familiar to me - he was flexible enough to court and admire you in the first place. Mine was 'very attentive' and kind and 'in love'. That suggests to me that he knows exactly how to behave when he wants to. Now, he is just choosing not to.

It doesn't matter that he has been diagnosed with AS. The question is: Why should you have to live like this?

Rogueantimatter Your husband sounds like a real arse. Asperger's or no Asperger's, he is treating you appallingly. Do you feel like you have any choices? The is an 'off' button on relationships, you can push it.

ThatsNotMyRabbit Fri 27-Nov-15 17:20:29

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

MrsMiss Fri 27-Nov-15 17:28:57

Rogue, that sounds so difficult, how do you manage? I see that many people have separated, which in itself is interesting. Lots of people, including dh have said to me that now we have the diagnosis things should get better, but I don't see how. Understanding that he doesn't 'mean' to be ignorant or rude, or unkind, thoughtless or cruel doesn't help me. I remember when I had an elderly relative in hospital during her last weeks, and I would come home from hospital emotionally drained and just needing a hug and some company but he still stalked about, sulking because he was having to do more with the kids.

The very notion of doing something that you don't want to do, for someone else. I get that people like my dh see things differently but I can't understand why, on getting this diagnosis that he embraces and totally accepts (I would understand if he was in denial) he wouldn't want to try even harder to do things he doesn't like knowing that that is how life is. It just seems to have boosted his argument that he can be himself and say no to everything without a thought for me, our relationship, our family, our friends...

When I was having individual counselling the message war reassuringly positive, that I was trying, being the adult etc, but now our counsellor says we are like two kids in the playground, both as stubborn as each other. I don't see myself as stubborn, just trying to stand my ground after a decade of being steamrollered at every opportunity, but when I say this she wants to focus on the here and now and not dredge up the past...

Twgtwf Fri 27-Nov-15 17:30:28

Honestly, though, it would be of more help to those of us married to people with Aspergers if this thread didn't descend into name-calling.

Twgtwf Fri 27-Nov-15 17:31:33

X post, OP. My post was addressed to the previous poster.

MrsMiss Fri 27-Nov-15 17:32:24

Hillfarmer, the EA aspect is new to me, I will look it up. It's hard when you feel you are on the receiving end of what in my case seems very cruel behaviour, but dh is equally convinced that he is too. He finds my outbursts hard to understand, feels I don't listen to him... The list goes on :/

MrsMiss Fri 27-Nov-15 17:34:04

No worries twgtwf, I understand what you're saying.

NeedAScarfForMyGiraffe Fri 27-Nov-15 17:53:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

orangepudding Fri 27-Nov-15 18:09:56

Wow Coco, you could make a fortune with your one week cure!

MrsMiss, I agree that its worth finding a counsellor who has experience with ASD. It sounds as though your husband has a diagnosis and has stopped trying as he now has an excuse.

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