Married…with Asperger’s

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Dec 17, 2008 in Books I'm Reading, Family Stuff |

So I haven’t posted all week then I post four (or is it five?) times in one day.  That’s the way things work when you’re flying by the seat of your pants.  I’ve been saving up all this stuff to say until I’ve actually had time to blog it.  And today’s the day I actually have time to blog it (of course, I am ignoring my list of other, less fun things to do like wrapping all the presents stacking up under my Christmas tree…).

As I’ve posted before, both my son Matthew and my husband Mike have Asperger’s syndrome.  I’ve been hesitant to post too much about Mike in this area because I wasn’t sure how he felt about going so public with it.  But Mike has just started his very own blog where he has started to talk openly about his diagnosis, so I guess it’s safe for me to do so as well.

I think Mike was inspired by John Elder Robison’s blog about living with Asperger’s.  John speaks very openly about his autism and how it affects relationships in the real world.  He was the author of the book, “Look Me in the Eye” that I wrote about last summer.

It’s only in the last year that we’ve realized that Mike has Asperger’s.  Once Matt got his diagnosis and we started doing some research, it was obvious that Mike has it as well.  This is apparently very common – once a child is diagnosed, the percentage of their parents who are also diagnosed is very high (I think I saw a number like 57% or so in some research).

As I posted back in July, once Mike received his diagnosis, he was very concerned about how marriages where one spouse is an aspie (nickname for a person with Asperger’s – don’t worry…it’s politically correct) are affected.  He found all sorts of very discouraging online ‘support’ groups where spouses were discussing how unhappy they were in these marriages.  Discouraged by the availability of online support, he recently went online and purchased some books that he thought might help us find ways of dealing with the unique marital issues we may face.

So I took the time to read the two books he purchased – Alone Together:  Making an Asperger Marriage Work by Katrin Bentley and The Other Half of Asperger Syndrome by Maxine C. Aston.

First of all, the title of Katrin Bentley’s book and the front cover are so discouraging – who wants to think of being “alone together” (how sad does that sound?).  And the image on the cover of the two hands not quite meeting each other…again – very sad.

But I read through the book anyway – and what I found was what sounded to me like a somewhat angry, bitter woman who was trying hard to make the best of things (but at the same time, she lets you know how hopeless and impossible things really are).  She can certainly assign the disorder blame for some actions, but when her husband starts to have an affair (mainly of the heart) and says that he “loves you [the wife and mistress] both the same”…well…it’s time to cut your losses and leave.  That’s a deal-breaker in my book – Asperger’s or no Asperger’s.

The other book by Maxine Aston was not as angry, but at the same time sounded hopeless.  Page after page said that basically, the non-aspie spouse will have to make all the sacrifices, changes and effort in order to make the marriage work.  As I read through the pages, my heart dropped and I began to grow sadder.

About 3/4 of the way through the second book, I closed the pages and told Mike that while I appreciated his efforts to help, I had decided to stop reading.  I told him that I really didn’t think things were that bad with us to start with but that these books were trying to convince me that they were.

I’m certainly not being naive – I realize that there are unique challenges we face and that there are some things that will never change and will always remain a challenge.  But by continuing to read these types of books, it cast a spotlight on the negative aspects of an Asperger’s spouse without focusing on the positive aspects that a diagnosis can bring.

At that point, Mike said that maybe I should write my own book.  I’m not a neurologist, marriage counselor or psychologist, so I doubt that a book that I write on the subject would hold any merit.  But I do have this blog and I thought maybe if I write a little bit now and then about my own aspie marriage, it might help someone else whose spouse has been newly diagnosed.

So…if you’re reading mainly to get some new craft ideas or for information about owning a goldendoodle, these posts may not be of interest to you.  But if you’re wondering what it’s like to be married to someone on the autism spectrum, maybe I can provide a little insight into what a happily married (although sometimes frustrated) non-aspie spouse is like.

So…here are a few examples of some communication breakdowns that are classic aspie moments…

While away on business travel, I called Mike and asked if he missed me.  His answer was that no, he didn’t miss me – he and the kids were fine.  As a non-aspie, this hurt my feelings – how could my husband not miss me when I’m gone?  But…from his perspective, he was busy with the kids, taking care of things around the house…he didn’t have time to miss me.  Sure, he was happier when I was home, but if he told me he missed me, that might make me feel bad for not being at home.  He wanted me to know that things were going well – that he was handling things just fine.  Here’s the problem – as a result of his disorder, Mike truly didn’t realize that saying that you don’t ‘miss’ someone can hurt their feelings.   Since we now have a diagnosis, I can explain the miscommunication to him, he and I can understand why he acted the way he did and he can make a note not to answer that again – the socially correct answer to the question, “Do you miss me?” is, “Yes” – even if you don’t. :)

Another similar example – again, I was away on travel and joked that things were going so well at home, he didn’t really need me.  Looking for reassurance, I jokingly asked, “You don’t need me, do you?” to which he replied, “No, I don’t need you.”  Again, as a non-aspie, you can see how this would hurt my feelings.  But similar to the other miscommunication, he actually meant that he was with me because he loved me and wanted to be with me, not because he needed me.  Since I now realize that he has a social disorder, instead of getting angry, I told him that I was hurt by that statement and that people actually like to feel needed.  I was still hurt…but with an Asperger’s diagnosis, even though those feelings are still there, we can at least better understand the reason for the miscommunication and learn from it.

Another frequent source of miscommunication is illness.  People with Asperger’s often have a lack of empathy – this is especially apparent when the non-aspie spouse is sick.  When we say that we don’t feel good, we expect a certain level of sympathy in a statement like, “I’m sorry you don’t feel well – why don’t you go lay down and I’ll bring you some chicken soup” (or aspirin or whatever the illness requires).  Then the person will check in on you every so often and see what you need, how you feel…maybe feel your forehead for a fever…but what Mike usually says is something like, “Go upstairs and lay down then” and I don’t hear from him or see him again until I’m well.  As a person with Asperger’s, Mike treats me exactly how he’d like to be treated when he’s sick – when he doesn’t feel well, he likes to go upstairs and be alone until he’s better.  He has no need for being ‘babied’ and doesn’t understand why anyone would need that.  We’re still working on this issue, but at least with his diagnosis, I have learned not to take it personally.  And if I need chicken soup, I now know to ask for it instead of assuming that he knows that he should offer it to me.

So it’s getting late and I think I’m done for now – I hope that I can continue to give examples that give some insight and hope to spouses of people on the autism spectrum.  It’s not all hopeless…there’s no reason to be bitter…and if you’re not having major issues, don’t read self-help books…they’ll only point out all the things that could be wrong.

52 Comments

john elder robison
Dec 17, 2008 at 7:20 pm

I’m sorry to hear of your distress, especially over the marriage books. I agree with you that much of what’s written is from the “alienated wife” perspective and hence not very useful for a wife seeking a positive result. I intend to write more on that in my next book.


 
anna
Jan 3, 2009 at 8:47 am

I very much appreciate this subject of blogging.
Being married to someone who scores on the Asperger scale myself I would be relieved to learn about someone, a real person, instead of all the theoretical talk. I am not desperate in my marriage and would not liked to be talked into that by books either, just like you.
I would, however, like to know about someone dealing with the daily things in a relationship. So, hats off to you and again: very appreciated! Keep going, (as long as you enjoy this that is :) ) anna


 
Julie
Feb 2, 2009 at 7:38 pm

I just stumbled upon your blog and really appreciated this entry. Our son, Zach, has Asperger’s, and like you, we realized that my husband also has it.

You do learn to work with it, it just takes time. I just wanted to wish you and your family the best from one who knows!

Julie in Pittsburgh


 
Cara
Mar 3, 2009 at 12:31 am

I am glad to see your blog. I will not read those books. I have been married to an aspie for almost a decade. I did not realize it until my son was dx. My husband would not have anything to do with a diagnosis. I find myself in the turmoil that many aspie spouses post about on the internet. The issues have always been there, but I did not know why, what, and so forth. Hmm.


 
Heidi Battisti
Mar 4, 2009 at 6:02 pm

I enjoyed reading your blog. Our husbands went to school together. My husband and my 9 year old son both have Asperger’s. I think you have to learn to understand and not take things to seriously in life when you living with people who have AS, otherwise it will drive you crazy. We have lot’s of laughs in our family, that’s just how we choose to deal with it. Take care!


 
Kathy Torrence
Mar 4, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Thanks, Heidi! I agree – you just have to try your best to understand and accept them for who they are. Mike and I have a great marriage, but once he was diagnosed, I had to change my expectations somewhat and realize that some things about him will never change – not because he’s being difficult or doesn’t want to change, but because he CAN’T. Once you can accept that, you’ve won half the battle.
There are so many positives about our marriage too – I tend to focus on those.

I only hope that our sons can better learn to deal with the world around them and can someday find someone that truly loves them for who they are as we do.

Maybe we should all get together sometime – it would be fun for Mike and your husband to catch up and our son Matthew would enjoy having another 9-year-old friend that understands him. :)

Thanks for commenting!


 
Kathy Torrence
Mar 4, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Cara –

I understand – until your spouse will accept a diagnosis, it’s tough to deal with his issues alone. My husband was also in denial for a while – he bought a series of books on adults with AS just to prove my theory wrong…only thing is, he ended up believing the diagnosis himself after reading the books.

At least now you can understand what the issues are and, more importantly, WHY they’re there. It’s not you…it’s not him…it’s Asperger’s. You have to decide if you can live with all that comes with it – and remember, it’s not all bad! These are bright, loving, senstive, kind, honest, loyal and trustworthy men – many women would love for their husband to have some of those qualities.

Good luck to you – I hope your husband will accept his diagnosis and that you can both move forward together.


 
Kathy Torrence
Mar 4, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Thanks, Julie! I agree – you can certainly learn to work with it. For us, the benefits in our relationship FAR outweigh the negatives – we really do have a happy marriage.

I just hope my son can someday find someone who loves him as much as I love his father.

Take care!


 
andrea frazer
Mar 16, 2009 at 11:07 pm

And yet another great post. I will email you later about a pitch I have for the magazine itself. It might never go anywhere – print is going in the toilet – but they said they’d listen to something. Maybe it could be a way for me to break into the magazine arena and for you to gain some exposure for your potential book. I’ll email tomorrow or the next day. I’m pooped right now.


 
Kathy Torrence
Mar 16, 2009 at 11:45 pm

Sounds great – I’d love a chance to flex my writing muscles for something other than technical writing – not that writing requirements for the FAA isn’t creatively challenging… :)


 
Maureen
Apr 5, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Hi Kathy –
I thoroughly enjoy your blog! I am also a working mother of three boys, and my husband and oldest and youngest sons all have Asperger’s. I discovered it only a year ago, and since then have spent enormous lumps of time reading everything I could find, including the two books you bemoan above. I also found myself wanting to write about it. I have started a blog of my own called Loving the Tasmanian Devil. I am going to subscribe to yours. Feel free to take a peek at mine.


 
GSH
May 13, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Kathy,

I enjoyed reading your description of married life with Asperger’s very much, thank you.

Your conversations with Mike are nearly identical with countless conversations I have had with my wife. “Missing” someone confuses me – she said she would miss me as I was leaving on a business trip, and I was so mysifyied the only response I could think of was “well then I won’t go.” Coping fine without a spouse, needing versus wanting, trying hard to leave someone alone when they feel bad, all make perfect sense to me.

My brother and sister in law have a horribly complicated (to me) system of clues that they leave each other to indicate when it is time to take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, make the bed, and so on. These clues are necessary, they insist, “so I don’t have to ask.” What he heck is wrong with asking, I wonder? It would keep people from having to read your mind….

My advice for anyone married to a person with Asperger’s: Remember, if there are 2 ways to interpret something he says and one of them is hurtful, he ment it the other way.

Thanks again and best of luck,


 
aspmom
Jul 1, 2009 at 12:40 pm

The one book I’ve found to be helpful as an NT married to an aspie is “Asperger’s and Long Term Relationships” by Ashley Stanford. It’s a very detailed and positive resource!


 
Mandy
Jul 28, 2009 at 1:09 am

Hi Kathy
your blog has turned my life around, my husband and myself have had a very difficult 8 years of life together, after a few great years. We have seen so many therapists and finally refered to a Psychologist. He told told me on a rare one on one session that my husband had Aspergers…I of course read read read about it and suddenly understood a lot of what was going on in my life. Our 8 year old son showed mild symptoms and has since been fully tested and not 100% diagnosed, with the pediatrition prefering not to use labels (not sure what this is about yet). Our Psychologist suggested that once our son was diagnosed that my husband would come to the same conclusion about himself, but it didn’t happen. Instead he continued on a path that put me in the fault category. That my reactions were possibly even boardering on some Psychological problem myself. We were settled on seperation when I still couldn’t give up on “us” and after more web searches came across the first positive blog, wow a wife coping and even suggesting that it was possible to have a good marriage.

My conclusion was that my husband indeed needed to be diagnosed and I pushed his Psychologist into telling him, It was very sad to see it said but it was and I let it settle for a few weeks and after disscussion with my hubby it seems that our Psychologist was prepared to sacrifice our family because he was afraid of what might happen….if he told my husband. Anger was my first reaction, couldn’t he see that I was so prepared to hang in and work, after 8 years of trying to understand and find reasons why we had so many difficulties. My husband was the same, what was that guy playing at?

Anyway less than a month later we have so much hope and our love is rekindling and trust has returned. Yes I know it will have it’s ups and downs but at least now it is out in the open and he no longer can just blame me but he has to look at himself and help himself.

So thank you for giving me a life line and HOPE.
mandy


 
Kathy Torrence
Jul 28, 2009 at 1:28 am

Mandy –

I’m so glad to hear that you haven’t given up! Not every day will be rosy – like today when my husband I and were just having a discussion over some future plans. I want to move to the beach in a few years and have been looking at some homes online – he has no interest because in his mind, we are never moving because it is so far into the future, it is off his radar. I got very frustrated with him, but it made it easier when I realized that the reason that he can’t imagine into the future or fantasize or dream is probably in large part because of his AS. You see, the diagnosis doesn’t make me any less frustrated – but it does give me a reason for his behavior and as a result, I’m not angry. And I can say, “You know, sometimes it can be frustrating when your Asperger’s keeps you from planning into the future because it’s not in the here-and-now.” Can you see how that’s a lot less hurtful than, “I hate it when you never want to look at houses with me!” At least it gives me an understanding of why he behaves the way he does. And then I can move on and appreciate the fact that he has a spreadsheet that calculates our exact net worth at any given moment in time. And the fact that he had dinner ready for me when I got home tonight. And that he slept on the couch with our son last night when he had a fever. And that he sat through “Design Star” on HGTV with me just now. And then I remember why I love him. :)


 
Bob
Oct 9, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Kathy

My 4 year old is in the midst of being evaluated for AS. In this process I’ve done some research on the topic and have come to the conclusion that my wife might have AS. Given the the symtoms “present” themselves differently in women than they do for men/boys, I was wondering if you’re aware of any resources from my perspective? The alternative would be to reveiw the current books to pull something from them.

While your information is encouraging, I’m at my wits end and any support would be helpful.

Thanks.


 
Kathy Torrence
Oct 9, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Bob –

I’m sorry to hear that you are having difficulty dealing with your wife’s potential AS diagnosis. And I wish that I could point you in the direction of some great resources for living with spouses with AS. But unfortunately, I haven’t found them yet – especially when it comes to AS in a woman rather than a man.

I would, however, advise you to be very careful if you decide to start reading some of the information that is available on the subject. It can become very depressing and overwhelming for the NT (neuro-typical – aka “normal”) spouse. Also beware of the many groups on the Internet that claim to be “support” groups – but I have found that they are more or less places to plan divorces from the AS spouses.

Someone just left a comment on my blog with the name of a book that she recommended – “Asperger’s and Long Term Relationships” by Ashley Stanford. I haven’t read it myself, so I’m not sure how it is, but it’s worth a try. You can also try to find a therapist in your area that focuses on AS couples – I know they are out there, but I haven’t had luck finding any near me. But if you start by googling “Asperger couples therapy”, you might be able to find someone close to you.

Hang in there, Bob – it’s really not all as bad as the books and Internet make it out to be. It can be frustrating – sure. But there many positive things about people with AS that no one talks about – I’m sure your wife is honest and loyal; she’s probably one of the smartest people you know – and even though she might not know how to show it in the ways you may need to hear it all the time, I’m sure she loves you very much.

Good luck – I hope you find the help and peace you are looking for.

Kathy


 
holly
Nov 15, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Hi Kathy,

I’ve been happily married to a man who has not been diagnosed but fits the AS criteria to a tee – for the past 5 years. I’ve always looked at him as an individual with quirks, yes; sometimes maddening quirks; but reminded myself that I’m not exactly a walk in the park either. In other words I could accept our differences — my nickname for him has always been “Spock” — until the last two months when we’ve run into terrific difficulties with each other.

Though a couple years ago I recognized that he was probably AS, I also realized that with his particular constellation of personality traits he would not be pursuing diagnosis, so I might as well continue seeing him as a distinct individual and work things out as necessary as we “went along…” So I hadn’t been reading about AS specifically or joining internet groups because I really had no need to; until lately. And I agree that much of the material and the group orientation would lead me to believe that I must be nuts for thinking my relationship could ever work.

I’m pretty distraught right now because I love this man; but he seems completely unwilling; unable; (whatever) to understand how his “techniques” for connecting with potential friends is affecting our marriage. Through facebook he has suddenly reconnected with a woman he knew in high school (his former fiancee’s best friend (!)) who apparently had the same experience of social exclusion as he did in school…they text and call each other — she has a live-in boyfriend who she is anticipating marrying — to make a long story short; he sees no reason in the world why I do not understand this is just a friendship; why I question him about it, why I don’t trust him, etc. etc. Even though the quality of this connection is obviously extremely important to him and he obviously is “getting” something which seems more important than the fact that the quality of our marriage is suffering because of the way he is going about it…Maybe she is AS…

These sorts of discussions and angry interchanges have gotten us nowhere. He finally got so frustrated that he left town to spend time with his family for an indeterminate length of time, which has never happened before.

The other part of the recent problem is that when we are out in public together, he will strike up these conversations with (usually) women that put me in the strangest position. If I didn’t believe he was just trying to connect with others and it happened to be in a socially awkward way; it would look like he was flirting. In any of this that I’ve described; he will tell me, when we discuss it that I have a tremendous problem with jealousy. Whatever it is, for the past two months everything is my fault for not being understanding; for seeing things the wrong way, etc. etc. He will not go to a therapist; believes its a “bunch of bunk,” and I am left sadly reminiscing about the good thing we had going for the past five years.

Question: is there anything I am missing (what to do, etc.) in this situation that anyone with a good handle on AS could suggest? I believe the whole thing revolves around his huge need to have friends. Nothing wrong with that; but if he’s always right about the way he goes about it and what he does is always appropriate regardless of how it makes me feel; how can I cope? He must know he is “different,” but at this point he is so defended against it he will “make me wrong” in any situation rather than think we should meet somewhere in the middle.

Many thanks for your blog; after looking in on those online groups I was so glad to find it!!

Holly


 
Wallie
Mar 12, 2010 at 7:09 pm

This is a great blog. Thank you, Kathy.

I strongly recommend the online support group for NT partners/significant others started by Michael John Carley, Excutive Director of GRASP and author of “Asperger’s from the Inside Out”. If anyone is interested, you need to subscribe through the GRASP website (www.grasp.org) and click on the “NT Partners/Significant Others” group.

There are several members who have a tremendous amount of experience, strength and hope to share.

Sincerely,

Wallie


 
Maria Farnsworth
Mar 20, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Kathy,

I don’t know if you are still posting. I appreciate the comments you have made on your marriage to an Aspie. I have been married to my husband for almost 9 years. We found out last year that he has Aspergers. Our marriage has not been as great as yours seems to have been. We have had numerous struggles. I have thought about looking at some reading some books that seemed to be out there. I appreciate your comments on the ones you have looked at. There has to be something positive out there about Aspergers/NT relationships. I am frustrated by all the discouraging words. I am struggling enough as it is and am living in reality every day. I need to know there are postive sides to this relationship. So, if you are still posting and willing to share. I am listening.


 
Lisa
Mar 25, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Thank you Kathy for your blog. I do not usually read blogs, but having recently discovered with my boyfriend that he has AS (undiagnosed) I have been looking for resources online. Since he and I have been talking about marriage I want to learn as much as I can about what I might be getting into. Thus, I am also interested in aspies as parents. But as with marriage, most of what I find is negative. My boyfriend is a sweet man. We have had similar communication problems to the ones you describe, but he understands me a little better now. Since he loves me and wants me to feel loved, he now tells me he misses me, even if he thinks it is unnecessary.


 
peggy
Apr 4, 2010 at 12:10 am

While the books you mentioned “might” be sad, they are very factual. Facts are just that, FACTS. I have read them as well as most books out there on Aspergers, Autism, marriages on the spectrum and sad as they might be they are very factual, I want books with facts, I don’t want books to sugar coat things to make me feel good because in the end the only thing left standing will be the facts. An apserger /NT marriage is very destructive on everyone involved. I have been married now 20 years and my health is shot, my daughters is an emotional wreck, my life has little meaning or hope. Those on the spectrum should never marry any NT. It isn’t fair to either of them nor the children born into that marriage as they willl probably suffer with austim as well.


 
Kathy Torrence
Apr 4, 2010 at 1:00 am

Peggy –

I’m sorry that your marriage has been an unhappy one. But I have been married now for almost 12 years to my AS husband and I have to say that my marriage (although not perfect) IS a happy one. And I was married previously to an NT spouse and that marriage was NOT a happy one. So…I don’t think you can say that all AS/NT marriages will be unsuccessful any more than you can say that all NT/NT marriages WILL be successful. It depends on the people, the circumstances and how our personalities mesh. Those books may be fact for some – but not all – cases. So I’m glad they were helpful for you, but they were not helpful for me. I hope things work out with your family and you find the health and happiness you are looking for.


 
samantha edwards
May 2, 2010 at 6:49 am

I have been with my love who was diagnosed at an early age with AS. We were friends for quite some time and then …well we got engaged. There are things that at first thought were just “quirks” washing hands compulsively, anger over seemingly small things(Wal-Mart), driving, and all of these seemed so small compared to our love. No laughing all of us have kissed frogs! There are things that are hard….we had to move and yes I did most of the packing/loading unpacking….setting up house, but these things in the long run don’t mean anything. It’s frustrating sometimes when laundry piles up or trash needs to be taken out. And damn it why don’t they understand why we are upset!! The reality is they can’t unless, unless we tell them. That is hard for women to do! It’s hard for us to do in a “normal” relationship let alone a “challenged” one. AS is hard but so is having a career, raising kids, keeping in touch with your old girl friends and eating dinner together as a family every night. That doesn’t mean it is not worth it and it doesn’t mean we don’t do it. Like anything in life there are ups and downs. I looked online for support or answers and it was disheartening at best. If you love your husband, wife who has AS, just remember every relationship has it’s pro’s and con’s. No body is perfect not even us! Much love and support to all of you out there hang in there!!
Samantha Rose R.


 
colleen
May 17, 2010 at 6:50 pm

THIS makes me feel so much better!
I still am learning & not certain I have what it takes, but I will try.


 
PositiveWifeOfAspie
Aug 18, 2010 at 10:35 pm

I agree that all relationships have their ups and downs. And with patience and understanding, love can prevail in an Aspie / NT relationship.


 
Patty Rice
Nov 4, 2010 at 4:17 am

Kathy, thank you for your candor. You made me laugh out loud! I married my AS hubby 2 years ago after a 4 year courtship. This is his first marriage and my second. I walked into this marriage with both eyes wide open; my grown son has AS and I know the challenges well. Is it easy? No. But, there is never any doubt where we stand. There is never a time I have to “read between the lines.” My DH had to learn to say, “I love you.” At first, it was just an exercise … he had read that it was important to say it often, and he did. He now associates “love” with his need to be physically close rather than the need to be emotionally close. Intellectually he understands the difference, and he understands I have the need for emotional connection. Let’s just say he is trying to figure it out. When I travel, he does tell me he misses me. That, too, took awhile to learn. He first had to realize that our companionship was unlike that he has with others. When he did, he discovered he didn’t LIKE to be alone and could do something about it when I’m home, and therefore he can say he misses me. It is indeed a fact, not an emotion, but it is nice to be missed even if it is only because the other side of the table is empty. At least he noticed! It is a pain to have to ask for even simple things, but many husbands just “don’t see” many of the little things we would love them to do. At least I know I can ask and not risk insulting him. Chances are pretty good the thought hadn’t crossed his mind, and if I’m not interrupting him while he is deeply involved in a task, he is usually willing to help out. Repetition helps; he is beginning to “see” some things himself, and he likes the praise when I notice he’s taken care of something. I will admit that there is something humorous in receiving a silk rose from the gas station on Valentine’s Day because he knows he should get flowers, and the flashlight I got for Mother’s Day did come in useful when the power went out. No, it’s not easy, and sometimes I miss the emotional ties. But, my DH is the kindest, gentlest, and sweetest man I have ever known. I know my life is far richer for knowing him, and his world is far broader for marrying me. What more could we ask for?


 
Karin
Jan 31, 2011 at 2:11 pm

This is directly a response for Bob, who posted on October 9, 2009 – a long time ago! I hope you will see this, Bob, but if not, maybe this will be useful to others. A great resource for understanding AS in females is author Rudy Simone – herself a diagnosed Aspie. She published a book called “Aspergirls.” I have received counseling sessions with her over Skype that have been helpful in working better with Aspies in my family. She also wrote “22 Things You Must Know if You Love a Man With Asperger’s” and “Asperger’s on The Job.” Rudy is reachable via email through her web site help4aspergers.com – her approach is very hands-on and practical.
Liane Holiday Willey, also an Aspie, has written about herself and her family in her book “Pretending to be Normal.” I have interesting radio interviews with her and other Aspies on http://www.grasp.org
YouTube has some useful films, including lectures by Rudy Simone and Temple Grandin. Temple Grandin’s symptoms are a lot stronger that those of anyone I know personally, but she has made it her mission to truly understand autism from a scientific standpoint, and I find her lectures as educational as they are entertaining.
http://www.autismhangout.com has good resources, too.
I have read over 20 books, including all the books by Maxine Aston and the others mentioned in this comments, and some very technical books written for counselors. I have found useful information in every single book, or identified with something in every book, though every book also had information that was not relevant or useful to me in particular. No book by itself addresses all the issues in one’s specific relationships or all the symptoms in the aspies we know. Autism is multigenic (controlled by many genes, like hair or skin color), and so it is very complex and diverse in its expression. But the more I read, the more I “get” autism, and I now can easily detect Asperger’s in those who have it, including the traits in myself.


 
Kara
Mar 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Thank you so much for posting this! I do not have a spouse with asperger’s (I’m only 22), but live with my mom and sisters, one of which has asperger’s.

The way I related to this blog and the reason my mom sent it to me is because I have a boyfriend I’ve been dating for 2 and a half years. He’s not the most romantic or sympathetic type of boyfriend but I’ve always found it easy to get along with him as my sister isn’t very sympathetic and that sort of thing either.

He does things like I say “I had the worst day, I actually cried.” no comment. me: “No sympathy?” him: “well if I say ‘sorry’ it’s not going to fix anything.”

my mom and I sometimes wonder if he actually has asperger’s…. thoughts? (on this small amount of detail. lol)


 
Kathy Torrence
Mar 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Kara –

First – thanks for reading my post! :)

And you’re right – that is way too little information to go on. But if you live with someone with AS, you may be able to better see the signs than someone who has no exposure. Or he may just be that kind of a guy. You may want to keep the dialogue open.

Hope it all works out for you!

Kathy


 
Karie
Apr 11, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I have been married to a man for 30 years in a very difficult marriage, with three children. Two of my children have an official diagnosis of tourette’s, but it is understood that they are aspergers spectrum as well. My husband hasn’t been diagnosed, but he fits the asperger’s pattern even more than the kids. We were separated for a while because he was emotionally and physically abusive to the kids. He has never been an engaged parent because he is too self-absorbed to take the time with them.

I know this sounds very negative, but ever since we understood the neurological issues, we have been able to move on to a much better married life. It’s definitely not a typical marriage, but there are many advantages. My husband is super loyal to me. He prefers to be with me over anyone else in his life. He has no understanding of sarcasm or subtle jokes, and can swiftly snap back at me or anyone else with the most awful angry words. But now that I understand where he is coming from, I can let him know when he is being inappropriate and he will often ask me my opinion now before flying off the handle at someone.

My husband has never been officially diagnosed, would never seek help, and will deny that he has anything wrong with him. He would tell me it’s me who has a problem if I try to explain it to him. The lack of insight for the asperger person is very typical. It takes a lot of understanding on the spouse’s part to continue this level of understanding and assistance. However, the payoff is that you have a strong relationship with a devoted person, and also create the environment of acceptance and unconditional love so needed by the children affected.


 
Phuong
Jul 21, 2011 at 2:30 am

I am a newly married couple married to an aspie that is in denial. I am looking for answers for myself and trying to work out our marriage.there were many times where I gave up and wanted to end our marriage. I recently gave birth to a healthy girl and now 6 months old I am worried too that she could have as. I am reading your blog and am thankful for your help and the miscommunication part is what I can relate to 100%. I became really depressed when I gotten married And now finding out my husband is aspie makes me feel assured that I know he is not a “jerk” and see him as the loving person I married. Thank you so much for sharing.


 
gigi
Oct 23, 2011 at 11:04 am

Hi

I really resorted with Polly …thankyou for your post, I feel like I AM crazy most of the time . Cold and distant , the blaming but underneath you know they love you . But you can see how much he has blocked you out. Faith and love and pure appreciation is the only thing that works.


 
Christine
Nov 27, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Thank you so much for your blog. I have an 8 year old daughter with Asperger and we have recently discovered that my husband of 14 years does too. Although my marriage has had more then its fair share of challenges we are happy and still in love. He is a good husband and father who has made it his mission to help our daughter cope in the world. I too was discouraged by all the negative websites and books. They make it seem like a marraige with an aspie is doomed when I feel after 14 years I have developed my own skills for successfully navigating our marraige. Thank you for being positive. Other spouses need to know that there is support for making it work even with our unique challenges.


 
Fatima
Jan 17, 2012 at 8:02 am

please go on with your blog. I am living in the Netherlands and facing the same issues with my aspie boyfriend. I like your positive insights. I looked at all the books you mentioned. I read some of them. I find it also unfair that the other half has to make all the sacrifices.

I am anxious to read your next post !!

warm greetings from cold Netherlands.


 
Renee
Jun 12, 2012 at 2:56 am

I have been married for 10 years….2nd marriages for both. I am sure as I know my name that this man has AS. At first I thought it was passive aggressive disorder. His son is a space head, and careless, and both his children in their 20’s and 30’s are pretty immature and childish and very “detached” in their personalities. In fact, I think his daughter is engaged to an “aspie”….siince he can’t look anyone in the eyes, and has a childish immaturity and lack of connection perturbing. But then again, they say women marry men like their fathers. Anyway, I can’t help but be fascinated by women who are in so much pain from the lack of emotional connection, lack of reciprocity of feeling, and lack of nurturing from these men. they are egocentric to the point of reminding me of a baby in a crib completely fascinated by the discovery of their own fingers and toes, just fixated on themselves, staring at their digits and oohing and ahhing over them while you look on. I am a middle aged woman who expected oh so much more this time. I am devastatingly lonely, depressed at times, hopeless, and trapped. Not the way I imagined my life as I became older and free. The best description I have heard yet was that these men seem so willing to allow you your “independence” when you meet them, that you feel free and fullfilled, and appreciated and “un” dependent. What you discover after a few years is that all of that is a complete misread……….and what you really have is someone who not only doesn’t appreciate you, but doesn’t care at all about your independent pursuits if it isn’t something he’s into. He is plain dis-interested, dis-tracted, dis-connected. What a way to live. Learning to love my prison is something I do not care to pursue. And that is what all of these books sound like to me…..manuals on how to make lemonade out of your “lemon.”


 
Mrsowl
Sep 11, 2012 at 11:05 pm

http://changesthatheal2.wordpress.com/
please share!! Thanks :)
nerotypical + aspergers spouse = True Love

Every marraige is different. My husband and I are in love and determined to stay that way. Here are our struggles. Here they are live. We are both 100% committed to death do us part.


 
Cathie
Sep 14, 2012 at 7:58 am

I have found yr blogs most useful, since my husband has been diagnosed with aspergers our marriage is just about over much to my distress but what seems no distress to my husband , I’ve been trying to find some information that’s positive but story after story is the same and so heartbreaking. I feel like I have a 52 yr old child I hope someone can blog something positive


 
Linda
Oct 31, 2012 at 12:00 pm

This is a fabulous source of knowledge for me but I’d like to know what happens when it’s the wife with AS. I’m undiagnosed but after my son was diagnosed as a teenager my husband insists I too have and he’s really struggling. Thinks me and my son make excuses by saying its the AS. When it is but he doesn’t believe or understand. The previous comments about missing people and wanting to be alone when sick make perfect sense to me. I struggle with my son, and my feelings but I also struggle with how my husband talks and behaves.


 
Linda
Oct 31, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Whoops also meant to say that he sees mainly negative in AS.


 
Jacquie
Dec 8, 2012 at 6:22 am

I am so pleased to read your blog and be reassured by it. I have a 12 year old son diagnosed last year with Aspergers. I see this in his grandmother and my husband. I have ‘struggled’ with some of their reactions and ways of being. For example – my husband works overseas and we only see him every 8 weeks. He arrived back the other day and I said “are you glad to be back” and he said “no”. I felt hurt by this. He was only with us for 11.5 hours before he went off to another business meeting. I said “I wish you didn’t have to go” – no reaction, not even an acknowledgement or a hug. I feel I can understand a little more and I can work on being with my new aspie family – I do love them so!


 
Kelly
Dec 9, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Thank you, Kathy and all who have shared their stories. You have given me hope.

My husband was recently diagnosed with AS, and this has given me some relief. I love him so very much, but the constant misunderstandings are tearing my heart out. Countless nights of crying myself to sleep have taken it’s toll. I started smoking and drinking too much; I feel out of control. With his four children in the mix, there is quite a bit of additional material to provide a stage for our battles. If I have any suggestion or opinion about the kids (constructive or not), he is very insulted and defensive. Anything that deviates from their way of living before I moved into the house is considered a direct attack on him. Any stepmom knows what it is to feel like it is “them against me.” The AS magnifies it tremendously. He is constantly overly defending every little thing and doing it right in front of them. I have respect for myself, my things, and others around me and I expect the same in return. I don’t know if I can live with this. He told me he would make an appointment to work on this with a therapist (I will probably make the appointment and hope he shows). Basically, the tidal wave is crashing down on me right now and I am praying that I can swim to shore and not drown.


 
KBarclay
Dec 10, 2012 at 2:36 am

I just came across this blog and I have to say thank you. My daughter and husband both have Asperger’s and we’ve had some serious problems that almost resulted in us getting divorced before we knew this fact. Now I am starting to understand why both my daughter and husband do certain things, but there is so much I am still learning to cope with that I truly appreciate the positive things you are sharing. I’m going to be continuing to read your blogs. I appreciate your hopeful positive outlook.


 
Joanne
Jan 5, 2013 at 1:50 am

My husband is yet to be formally diagnosed but we have started down that path. Reading this blog and material on other sites has been like reading about my life. I have been seeking help to understand the difficulties in my marriage for just over 10 years, and finally found someone who recognised the possible causes behind the behaviours in my husband that were confusing me. We are in our 25th year of marriage and I have struggled with the lack of emotional connection and other traits for some time (lack of future planning, very few if any close friends, limited social interests, unusual responses to normal social situations…) Realising that there may be an underlying cause has been a huge relief. I have realised that I have not been going mad. My expectations of an adult relationship are normal. His lack of ability to respond to my requests for things to be different now makes sense. He is a kind and loving man, but I have come to realise that I have been in the role of carer for a long time, protecting him as you would a child. I have been trying to save our marriage by trying to work out what to do. I was ready to leave. Now I can seek help to know what I can expect to change (if anything). Hopefully this will make my decision to either stay or to go much easier. Before I continued to hope that things could change if we could just work out how, now I realise that the changes that may be possible may not be enough.


 
Doggirl
Feb 12, 2013 at 2:01 am

Thank you Kathy for a wonderful blog. I’m married to an Aspie, and have been online looking for books, sites etc. that can give me a few tips on improving my understanding of his condition. Like you, I’ve found so much of the available sites/books/etc depressing and negative, and going into this research with a solid and very deep love for my husband, being thrown into a world of “they’ll never connect with you and you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of depression” was not really what I expected, or wanted to hear. I knew there had to be NT women out there who love their AS husbands and have found ways to make their own lives a little easier while living in the sometimes strange and confusing world of their AS husband – all I wanted was a little understanding from someone who lived it too and made it work. You did that for me, and confirmed that yes, there are plenty of NT/AS couples out there as in love as we are, and finding ways to understand each other. Thanks for the book references! I’m also looking into a book called 22 Things a Woman Must know if she loves a man with Aspergers, by Robin Simone. I haven’t read it yet, but so far it looks insightful and positive. I hope that you write more on this subject!!! We don’t need you to be a doctor or a specialist on the subject – I think the world just needs a little empathy and understanding for those of us who love and support our Aspie husbands!


 

[…] remarkably, I still get comments from time-to-time on my Married…With Asperger’s post from 2008.  It is amazing that my post affected so many people – even almost 5 years […]


 
Belinda Jones
Feb 28, 2013 at 3:15 am

Thankyou so much for sharing your stories. It has made me feel so much better that I am not going through very similar events on my own. Before my husband was diagnosed with Aspergers he once moved next door when I had the flu to try and give me space and he said he didn’t want to get sick.

If only I knew what I know now.


 
Brenda
Apr 27, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I too have had an asperger marriage for a long time and was married in l972 when you never heard of the illness. All these years I knew there was something mentally wrong with him but didn’t know what. On reading various materials about AS i now know that is what he has. It has affected my health terribly and have had numerous mental breakdowns along the way. I could write a book about my experiences. None of them good. Although I can excuse some of his behaviour now I know what he has ut it is still very difficult to live with. My daughters too have been affected one have a grandson who has it also.. It is a hard road to hoe. My jusband refuses to get diagnosed even though it would help me and my daughters to forgive him for what has happened in the past.


 
thank you
May 27, 2013 at 7:08 am

Just wanted to say thank you, this has to be the first positive thing I have read! I had not heard of aspergers until 2 weeks ago whilst reading a leaflet, it could have been describing my partner of 28 years , we knew something was wrong and he is seeing a psychologist (3 years now) but nothing was improving! The subject has now been brought up so we hope for a diagnosis soon. It just explains so much and I wanted to know as much as possible how to help him and be more understanding , everything i read is doom and gloom and really started to get me down but come on I have lived with it for 28 years already surely understanding AS will improve our relationship. So again thank you for being that little light of hope that everything can be ok!


 
Jean
Aug 21, 2013 at 5:09 am

My husband and I have been married for 18 years and have two sons 15 and 13. My husband and oldest son have AS. It has been a struggle much of that time for all of the social issues that come with AS. I work really hard to have some peace in our home with two type A Aspies. They are both super smart and quite charming when they want to be but watch out when anything is not going their way. It can really become a war zone here with my younger son and I are just trying not to get too stressed by it all. As many others have mentioned, my husband and I figured out he had AS when our son was dx in Kindergarten. It was very isolating to be the only one who was dealing with all the problems that my son was going through at school and any other social outings. He was in constant trouble at school and nothing really helped even though I tried everything I could; therapy, doctors, books, etc. A few years ago I decided to go a little alternative and went to a clinical dietician who worked with AS people. She eventually did a neurotransmitter test on my son and checked his brain chemistries and he was very much out of the norm. After going on special laboratory supplements to correct this problem he made some major improvements. The teachers noticed a very big shift in his ridged mindedness and his new ability to make changes in long held behaviors. He now has friends and is starting high school. While he still has AS, it is a lot less noticeable to anyone. He is playing football and enjoying a mostly normal teen life now. This is really something since he had no friends in grade school and was pretty much an outcast. He says that correcting his brain with the supplements was the most helpful thing we did for him and he said he wasn’t really “smart” till then. I know site is about marriage and I am getting to that now. While my son is doing well now my husband has been oblivious to the changes he could make to make our family truly happy. I like this site for all the reasons that everyone else has mentioned: mostly positive, not telling you to run for the hills…now. I have a lot of my life tied up with this man and I am not willing to throw it all away. I am planning on setting him up with a neurotransmitter test as soon as I can get him talked into it. I’ll get back to you all to let you know if it works as well for my husband as it did for my son (if I can manage this feat).


 
sherrieridgeway
Jul 10, 2014 at 3:37 pm

I lived with a man with Aspies for 15 years. The only reason it worked was because I wasn’t invested emotionally in the relationship once I realized he couldn’t be! I think it is wonderful that you are okay with your husband. I personally need the emotional give and take of a more normal relationship.


 
Brenda M.
Oct 29, 2014 at 4:51 am

Thanks so much for sharing your own personal struggles with being married to an Aspie man. I have been married to my Aspie hubby for 11 years now, and am so very depressed and frustrated from living in an emotional wasteland this long. Although I suppose I would be classified as NT, I also fit the Hypersensitive description to a tee, as well as ADHD and PTSD. Yes,…..what a lovely combination we are! Some days my husband seems more Aspie than other days,…if that makes sense to anyone. On those days, I find it almost impossible to be around him. Then there are days where he seems almost normal, which is wonderful. He’s a very sweet person, and admits that he’s clueless when it comes to the whole dance between a man and a woman,…and after all these years,…I can only accept that what he says is true. I’m all about communication,…but it usually ends up with me doing all the communicating and him just sitting there like a kid being lectured. All he does is say uhuh and yeah. I’ve finally realized it’s never going to change! That all I’m doing is wasting my breath, getting upset,…..while he falls asleep. Like some other women have said, “Had I known he was Aspie, I never would’ve married him.” It’s not his fault for having Aspergers, but it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. He is also type 1 diabetic,…a whole other set of issues that I wasn’t prepared to deal with. It does help to know that I’m not in this alone! Thanks again!


 

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