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My marriage is in tatters

19 replies

TonyBravo · 13/02/2022 02:39

I'm not expecting replies to this, it's 2am after all. It's merely an outlet so please forgive me.

DH and I have been married 5 years, together for 15, we have children ranging from primary to teens.

I have significant mental health issues and am currently going through a length ASD and ADHD assessment and diagnosis but i have a lot of personality traits that are difficult for me to deal with and as a result I've masked my whole life to an extreme level.
I've spoken with DH about this at length, usually after he confronts me for being 'off' or 'difficult to reach' I explain that it's exhausting working to so hard to be 'normal' and sometimes I can't be 'on.'

This has gotten worse and worse over time. My symptoms of whatever it is reached breaking point over last year and by Christmas I was ready to end my life. Everything was too much and I wasn't coping. I reached out to my GP who set the ball rolling for psychiatry.

In the mean time DH and I talked a lot and eventually he begged me to 'unmask' and give myself a break and he would deal with it. I was reluctant and quite scared to do this, I'm in my 40's it's been a lifetime of pretending so hard to fit in that I don't know who or what I am underneath the pretence.

However I was unable to keep up any pretence so slowly started acting to what felt natural for me. This meant things like moving out of the bedroom and sleeping on the sofa, I can't sleep in bedrooms easily and certainly not in beds (no idea why, it's always been the same) but for years I have been permanently suffering with insomnia for years from it but on the sofa I sleep well. Last time I slept on the sofa for a period of time (years ago) DH got in a bad way with his anxiety about our marriage.

I have also confessed to DH that I had zero sex drive or inclination, I said I understood that this isn't ok for him to accept a sexless life and said I would be ok with him seeking it outside the marriage. He was flawed and refused outright as sex is an emotion connection for him and not physical. I can have sex but there is no emotion there for me at all and it's not easy unless I'm really in the mood which I'm just not at the moment while things are so stressful.

As everything came tumbling out, DH admitted he actually didn't like me without the mask (and regretted getting what he wished for) after all but now all the truths came out (that all his fond memories of us are a lie) he is struggling but doesn't want to break up. He wants to fix it. I said that I could just try and rebuild the 'mask' and accept if for him and the kids but he also said no.

I don't know how to begin to fix it. There's a horrible uncomfortable silence around us, he sits on tenterhooks and keeps trying to apologise and asks me to talk at him which I don't want because I have nothing left to say.
I just keep crying and then taking myself out the house so the kids don't see which isn't fair on them to never see me and not fair on DH to not have me co parenting.

At my core I am a very damaged human being. I hate physical touch, I don't have normal emotions (if any) and whilst I understand why people do and what triggers them, I can't really sympathise with him on the level he wants or needs.
I am happy to sit in silence, he likes to talk and talk and talk.
He likes dates and romance and it's all completely lost on me.
He likes cuddling up in bed, I can only tolerate cuddles for mere moment before freezing up, it's horribly uncomfortable for me.

I love him in the capacity that I can, he is my person and I'd miss him if he weren't around, I'm not sure it's 'normal' but I do. But I know in my heart that I can't be what he wants or needs or what I wish I could be for him.

He is adamant that he'd rather have this life with me as I am and establish a new norm around my issues but I don't think we'll be able to. He admits he's terrified to be without me and gets distraught if he thinks I'm going to say I don't love him. He's already instinctively put his arms around me a few times or leant on me or grabbed my hand and I've frozen every-time. I fear he's going to end up destroyed out of this and we have not just ourselves but the children to consider.

I have had years of counselling and am likely to be medicated for adhd but I'm at a point where more counselling won't help me. My counsellor has retired and I'm only ok as long as I'm having refuse weekly sessions, as soon as they stop because I'm doing well I nose do e sharply backwards.

However, I have come to a place of acceptance about myself. I don't hate myself for being as odd as I am, I understand I need a lot of healing and discovery if I want to exists as my 'true' self (I appreciate that sounds wanky as hell) so in that respect I hope the counselling has made an impact.

As said I have no idea what the point of this post is apart from blurting it out, when DH and I speak we both cry and he jumps in every five seconds to tell me he loves me and he expects nothing from me so this is me saying it all out 'loud' at once.

OP posts:

Suzyinthesummertime · 13/02/2022 04:33

Can you go to relationship counselling? Seems like he really loves you and you love him too, you can work this out with some help but he needs support too


IdblowJonSnow · 13/02/2022 05:08

You're not odd and flawed! You're neuro diverse!

You need a counsellor to understand that and there will be some out there. You can work remotely so don't need to be limited by physical location.

Rather than thinking it was all a lie, your dh could consider that you were making attempts to make him feel good but that sometimes this came at your own expense.

You need to start again if you can. There's a chance it mightnt work but much better to both try if you genuinely want to rather than for things to continue as they were.

Good luck.


Strawberry33 · 13/02/2022 05:31

Your husband is clearly a diamond and I really feel for him. Op not to be harsh but i don’t think anyone can keep a mask up that long and I think you are allowing yourself to wallow a bit in your issues, now that you are being seen if that makes sense. You need
To compromise somehow somewhere. Maybe ask him
Which bits bother him most and try harder at those aspects. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing whereby you completely mask or don’t at all.. strive for a middle ground xx


Summersnake · 13/02/2022 05:54

I’m at the same point as you ,I’m on waiting list for autism assessment,but I know I’ve got it ,I feel exactly the same as you described.
My dh also has autism ,but won’t get a diagnosis,we have 2 children with autism diagnosis,and 2 who should have diagnosis but dont.
I am nearly 50 and have no idea who I am or what I like due to masking ,.
There is talking space your husband can self refer to for counselling,.it might help him come to terms with everything.
I know it is a big deal finding out your autistic,
but life has to go on ..advice I need to take myself …
It’s hard ..I manage by trying to carve out space and time alone in the bedroom to myself..I need a lot more time alone than I realised I did.
I joined a parents with autism group ,through help for my children with asd ,and a few people on there said they don’t know anyone not on medication with asd and adhd …I’m not on medication,and they all do seem to be coping with life better than me ,.just a thought ,if your not already on any ..


TonyBravo · 13/02/2022 05:55

He is a diamond,100% that's why it is so awful that I'm such a crap wife.
I'm trying not to wallow and to get proactive with help and actively perusing the psych stuff. I have a made a ton of improvements in my life this past few years with help of my counsellor, I've gotten out of a soulless job and started education and redound my personal style which I love, and he's been nothing but supportive through it. We're two very different people. I am fiercely independent and like my own, quiet company and prefer to be around people who don't want anything from me. He is someone who needs reassurance, close connection and intimacy. I have tried so hard to fit that model. I don't know if either of us can step to the middle enough to be happy long term but hopefully there's a way.

OP posts:

Summersnake · 13/02/2022 05:57

There’s a really good section on Mumsnet for all us autistic mums to chat ..nurodiverse Mumsnetters will find so much help and advice there ,you could ask to move this over to there …if you wanted to


TonyBravo · 13/02/2022 05:59

@Summersnake - nice to meet someone who is in the same camp (although sorry you are at the same time) my psychiatrist has said the only thing they can offer is meds for the adhd, there's no other therapy option where we are. My counselling has finished now, he's retired and I don't want to access another and it's not something we could afford even if I did.
I'm hoping to star meds next month and hope to god they help the noise in my head. I certainly won't get through my degree without something, let alone fix the relationship problems.

I think the hard part is knowing what to suggest as DH and I are on polar opposite sides of all scales.

OP posts:

Somuddled · 13/02/2022 06:43

It sounds as though you both genuinely very for each other. Albeit in different ways. I hope you don't mind me making some random suggestions that perhaps you haven't thought of.

There is a book called something like the 22 things your aspie woman wants you to know about her. Specifically written for spouses. It's a short but really really helpful discussion tool. Sleeping arrangements - any chance of fitting a sofa in your bedroom? That way you are still sharing a space but in a way that suits you both? It may help him see that it is a rejection of the bed and not a rejection of him?

How do you currently indicate that you need alone time? My husband and I agreed some wording that wasn't hurtful (in the past I'd be so overwhelmed and blurt out something like, 'go away' or 'just shush' which is really really mean). I now say 'I need some decompression time' and if possible I then state when I might be able to come find him again.

You haven't said much about what helps you, perhaps you have been making for so long you aren't sure. I spent time thinking about what self soothing actions I could do. I realised that throughout my life I used to get unto small spaces. Boxes as a child, cupboards at uni etc. Small,dark, quiet spaces gave me the chance to desensitise. So we cleared and redecorated the space under the stairs, it became my refugee. Sitting in it for just 10 minutes a day made a big difference to my ability to function.

Sex, you are of course under no obligation. It sounds like your disinterest in it is related to not really enjoying physical touch in general? I'm not great with touch. DH and I have talked a lot about asking beforehand (would you like a hug?) And him totally understanding if I say, not right now, it isn't a rejection of him. He also knows that the pressure needs to be tight, soft touch sends me potty. Back to sex, does it being planned help at all? I know most of mumsnet thinks that planned sex is horribly vanilla but I don't care. It allows me to spend time thinking and looking forward to it. It also allows me to plan to combat the long list of sensitivities related to see (I hate being cold for example) all of which I couldn't do if it wasn't planned. All the usual consent parameters still exist of course. If it gets the the planned time and either of us aren't comfortable it doesn't go ahead.

Finally, if you have noise sensitivities I really recommend looking into reducers such as thoes made by Flare or loop. It really takes the edge off things.

Sorry for such a long post but your story really resonated with me.


TonyBravo · 13/02/2022 09:33

@Somuddled your post was so helpful and understanding and it gives me hope that this doesn't spell disaster long term for us.

I have asked for the thread to be moved over.
In the mean time, we have so signals or words for anything, I feel ridiculous needing them if I'm honest. This whole diagnosis and assessment thing happened quite quickly from the 4 years waiting list I was told I'd join in October, I was seen straight away after writing a letter for my GP to pass on about how things effect me.

I have noise cancelling earbuds which are a good send for the noise triggers.
I have 'my spot' ok the sofa that is just right for me and no one else sits in.
Touch is the biggest issue for me, I was that child who hated being hugged and I still am that person, I struggle to lean into it too and automatically go solid as a board when I'm hugged, it's obvious for the person hugging that I'd rather be anywhere else at that point.

With sex if I get the urge (usually at a certain time in my cycle) then I want sex but I want the physical act where as DH needs the cuddling and holding afterwards which I can't do so I tend to refrain altogether to save upsetting him, basically my life is doing things to avoid rocking the boat because once it's been rocked it's so hard to pull DH out of that negative space of anxiety and unease.

The bed thing is a puzzle I've never gotten to the bottom of, I cannot settle in a bedroom or bed, a bed downstairs hasn't worked and a sofa upstairs hasn't worked. I don't sleep much at night anyway, when I do it's in a tight ball in the corner of the sofa. Again, this is something I've don't since childhood, as a kid I would sleep in the airing cupboard or the hallway Blush

I'm going to get that book you mentioned now and read it before passing it over to DH.
Thank you again.

OP posts:

LivMumsnet · 13/02/2022 11:42

@TonyBravo we've now moved your thread over to our NeuroDiverse Mumsnetters topic now as requested. Hope that helps. Flowers


ofwarren · 13/02/2022 11:51

Your post made me cry because it could have been me that posted this.
I have attempted to post about it a few times but always deleted it before pressing send, so thank you so much for articulating what I could not.

I have absolutely no answers for you but want you to know that you are not alone Flowers


TonyBravo · 13/02/2022 13:09

@ofwarren - I'm sorry you're going through this too. It's heartbreaking.

OP posts:

ofwarren · 13/02/2022 13:53

I'm the same with the touching, hugging and sex.
I could happily never do any of those things again but obviously that isn't fair on my DH. I really don't know what to do. He's mentioned leaving before but has never actually gone.


BlackeyedSusan · 13/02/2022 15:36

He's not a diamond if he is touching her when she doesn't want it.


BarrowInFurnessRailwayStation · 13/02/2022 15:47

@ofwarren I'm so sorry 😥

Suddenly discovering you're ND is a shock and we have to find ways of adapting to it just as our partners do. It's not our fault and a person doesn't deliberately conceal it, it's because they're taught to from an early age. Partners can either adapt to the new person or call it a day I guess. Perhaps counselling might help find common ground so a new connection can be made.


Clarice99 · 13/02/2022 20:23

Your husband is clearly a diamond and I really feel for him. Op not to be harsh but i don’t think anyone can keep a mask up that long and I think you are allowing yourself to wallow a bit in your issues, now that you are being seen if that makes sense. You need
To compromise somehow somewhere. Maybe ask him
Which bits bother him most and try harder at those aspects. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing whereby you completely mask or don’t at all.. strive for a middle ground xx

I disagree with this.

You're not wallowing.

He doesn't sound like a diamond.

You, in discovering/coming to terms with your neurodiversity, are going through a very tough time. You need patience, understanding, respect and time.

I was diagnosed with autism in my early 50's. I attended couples therapy with DH with a counsellor who sees couples where one or both are autistic. During the sessions, it was made clear that a lot of the changes would have to come from DH and that the 'unmasked me' was who I really was.

We were recommended a few books. I found this one useful (if you can ignore the 'out of date' use of Asperger's):

Relationships are tough. I feel for you as I know how hard it is. But with work, love and dedication, there can be some light at the end of the tunnel.


LizzieSiddal · 13/02/2022 20:56

I think you’re both coming to terms with a lot and it’s very early days. It sounds like you love each other and could really benefit from going to some relationship counselling.


ambushedbywine · 13/02/2022 21:07

It does sound very hard for him and you. I'm ND but not autistic. I'm not sure if I could cope if my DH said he didn't want physical affection, sex or to chat. Even if he did agree to do those things because I wanted to, it would still feel he didn't want me. I feel for you both.


ForeverMe72 · 15/02/2022 10:55

Oh Hun! I've been where you are and I can't promise that it'll be easy - its early and it'll be frustrating as hell, but if you make it it'll be worth the effort!

For me the biggest problem was the endless having to explain things that really got me at the beginning, it was maddening - we'd have the same conversation, I didn't feel anything different except pissed off and yet DH would keep wanting more! I was so tired of talking, he wanted to talk about feelings, and I just didnt have any, I was getting more and more exhausted - I didnt want to hurt him, but not enough energy to even think, so it got more blunt, and it made him talk more :(. We took counciling and that was helpful as it helped us both understand eachother better and helped us with realisations too. It turned out, he didnt actually hear what I was saying without attaching emotion to it - and what I was saying back I thought was exactly the same each time, but actually it was more direct and exposing just a little bit more. He then fixate on that, and back round the loop we went. It helped me feel less angry at him, and helped him understand what I meant, and what I needed.

Your DH should maybe see someone too? shouldn't be this anxious if he was the one pushing you to unmask - maybe it all suprised him? Saying everything is a lie, sounds like he is hurting maybe. If he's just figuring out that sex isnt emotional, and that you don't like the stuff you've been doing all this time, I wonder if its just that he thought you were doing something together from the same place and realising that the drive behind things are totally different. Its a different picture if two people are kissing eachother out of love or passion or whatever, or if one is kissing and the other is concealing they'd rather be doing anything but that. Its difficult, but if you both work on it, you can re-channel that into a positive, because it honestly shows just how much he means to you!

With the sex drive, again my experience is a bit weird, I ended up avoiding all the interaction because I didnt want the other stuff that he wanted too - I find kissing disgusting, and don't get me started on eye contact! I realised that I was so worked up about trying to fake feeling something so that it felt normal to him that it took most of the fun out of it for me! This was a big turning point, because once we started talking about what we both needed I didnt have to fake anything or even feel any pressure in it - it was liberating. We set boundries, and went for it, and the better that worked the more I was open to doing it again as even if it wasnt emotional its still fun, and I found that my drive picked up - so if you get that twinge, go for it! Tell him what you want, whats on the table and whats not! Hopefully it quickly turns into something you can enjoy, rather than it being avoided just to avoid feelings!

It sounds like there is a lot of love! So I really do hope you find middle ground and work through it! Good luck!

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