Asperger’s and Marriage

Lessons from an Aspergers-NT Marriage

(By WordRidden via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.)

As a woman with Asperger’s Syndrome who’s been married to a neurotypical partner for 25 years, I’ve found some surprising benefits to an aspie-NT partnership. I’ve also encountered some serious challenges. This series summarizes 12 lessons that my husband and I have learned (often the hard way). Hopefully some will be helpful to other couples that have taken on the challenge of making an Aspergers-NT marriage work.

Part 1: Introduction, household responsibilities, knowing when to apologize

Part 2: Bad days, social skill deficits and touch sensitivity

Part 3: Compromise, communication aspie-style and understanding triggers

Part 4: Love and acceptance, aspie style

51 thoughts on “Asperger’s and Marriage”

  1. Your story is so inspirational and so relatable. I am a recently self- diagnosed, and currently seeking a formal diagnosis. You’re common sense advice for navigating a marriage with aspergers also works for relationships where both parties are Aspies. My husband is an aspie, too. He’s slightly less functional than me, and we are both learning to work with each others strengths and weaknesses. I’ve found that being Aspies is both a detriment and a benefit to our relationship. I am somewhat more socially adept, but also more shy. We both try to fill in what the other lacks, I. With communication with the outside world, and he helping to bolster my confidence to say things which need to be said. Also, we often clash because we’re so much alike, but we understand each other in ways that other people don’t. I’ve taken more of the leadership role, as I am a bit older, wiser, and better at communication, but we’re kind of raising each other alongside our children. We are very poor due to difficulty obtaining and maintaining employment, but I’m doing something right, because my kids told me yesterday that I’m the best mom they’ve ever seen! Best compliment ever! Sometimes our children suffer because of our immaturity and wicked (not violent, though) tempers, and severe anxiety. On the other hand, they have parents who are very present in their lives, accepting of their idiosynchrasies, and fiercely loyal and protective. Those are things I did not have in my upbringing. My parents are good parents, and the environment was idyllic for my brother and sister, but not so great for myself (the youngest), and my eldest brother, whom I also suspect to be an aspie. They did the best they could by us, but were limited by their worldview. I guess my point is pobody’s nerfect. I believe a lot of NTs are becoming more open and understanding, therefore opening up our ability to reach our potential, and enrich society in ways we did not previously. It’s a scarlet letter(happens to be A, lol:) that I now wear with pride, and use as an opportunity to educate people.

    1. Thank you for letting me know the series resonated with you. I’ve often wondered if a marriage between two aspies would actually be harder, because I depend on my husband to fill the gap for me in a lot of areas. But it sounds like you and your husband have different strengths as well, so that works.

      I think we aspies make unconventional but very good parents! I had my daughter when I was young (and poor) so I did a lot of growing up with her too. I see a lot of myself in the way you describe your parenting. The good news is, my daughter (who is about to turn 26!) turned out great in spite of my clueless and somewhat odd parenting style. You’re very right about no one being a perfect parent. We have to play to our strengths and hope the rest evens out in the end. 🙂

      1. hi there ,
        I’m having a lot of problems in my relationship with my wife, she is a wonderful woman and love her dearly, but she fines it hard that I don’t show enough or no emotion…. It’s not that I don’t feel it its just I forget to or I tell myself that she knows I love her what to spend the rest of my life with her …
        Please somebody come back to me with suggestions as to what I should or shouldn’t be doing,

        Many thanks Andrew..

        1. Andrew,

          I just took the AG 10 test on this blog and scored 7. I’m in the same boat. My wife used to allow for my behaviour but we both work full time, don’t have parental support and have two young children, one of which has been formally diagnosed with AS, I refuse to include D for “disorder” on principal. My wife has given up making allowances for me as she says she doesn’t have the time anymore with the children to worry about. She’s moved out of our bedroom and has been giving me the cold shoulder, saying she is only staying married to me for the sake of the children. We recently went to a marriage guidance councillor, but now I am going alone as the councillor thinks I need to learn how to communicate my emotions more effectively to my wife. Problem is that seems false to me, it’s not the real me. I’m trying it anyway to save our marriage. Hope this helps you in some way and good luck with your situation!

        2. Pardon me, I have to use metaphors to explain myself here. Emotion is like loads of different flavours and intensities of comfort, relative comfort; as a subjective result of mental and sensory experiences. So expressing emotion is like a weather report. It’s also like a complicated fractal folk dance, with bits of chaos, fun, snobbery, elegance, the option to back out. When we use social communication skills, we’re sharing information and reacting to information; the quick way is to look at passively leaking information/nonverbal expression, looking and interpreting. It’s like a near constant complex very-meaningful sensory input. We’re expressing emotion nomverbally all the time, we can’t help it. You are too, but but what I think your wife is saying is that she’s frustrated by missing information and a sense of input.

          We have special brain Gubbins dedicated to the expression of comfort and sensory experiences, emotions and intention, and for detecting it. Everybody. But NTs dont use their skills constantly, and they vary anyway. People have different tolerances for emotional information and we connect to what we know or expect more easily, and we need easy reassuring messages when we feel lowest.
          I think aspies learn to detach, to not see how people feel or something, nor express as much. And dont always having the same connection to emotional states and interactions to understand them intuitively, the higher skill level dances. It’s just too much, and not something we often get into.
          Love is only one of the pertinent kinds of emotion/feeling/sensory experiences that your wife needs information on. Companionship is being on the same page emotionally as well as physical presence, and being tuned in to other’s emotions (understanding, sharing and/or being able to intuitively adapt) helps everyday things go well. Dissonance can be upsetting but it’s also important to know the details of; dislike, disgust, calm or agitation all also important. Seeing expressed emotions, or being told about them, is about like looking at the weather. Your wife needs different information sharing depending on her emotional and practical needs at the time, including the need to be work with you. Pre-meltdown states and receptive/willing times for physical affection are quite important. Also, an answer to anxiety is seeking reassurance, but also knowing that your support network is responsive is often assurance enough. Your wife needs to receive some positive appraisals of things that are important to her, kind appraisals reward effort and signal compatibility. Being able to provide emotionally and practically for you, understand where you are at, depends on her knowing more about your emotions. And shared emotions, different types of ping backs. Some of which are acceptable as “fakes”, just mechanical, some of the time. You don’t have to feel the emotion or always express in NT typical ways; but more weather updates, good practical-for-purpose engaging weather updates. More fetching the umbrellas when you hear her weather, or exclaiming it might just be shorts & barbecue weather (even in a sing song jokey way, if you’ve no intention). That’d do.

    2. Thank you for this post. I was trawling the internet looking for examples of couples with Asperger’s and found very little. My husband and I both have it. We are both self diagnosed as when we were going through the process of being formally diagnosed, I (stupidly) told my employer and they started treating me VERY differently. I realised that carrying a label was not in our interest. We would have to disclose it to future employers and I couldn’t risk the same reaction, so the pursuit for diagnosis ended there. It is sad because I find that HF-AS is a real gift. It clearly caused some issues growing up, particularly as it was certainly not recognised, but my husband and I could not be closer or more content. People find it odd that we wish to share all of our time together but being together is effortless as we ‘understand’ one another. I read online (only forum opinions) that couples who wish to be together 24/7 are ‘strange’. I find this a shame as I do not judge those who do not wish to spend all of their time with partners ‘strange’ or somehow inferior. People seem to always impart their personal experience as the only correct way to live.

      We have both always worked but it has been a constant struggle, as we have had to learn many social patterns etc…it is exhausting. Funnily enough, my husband is better at socialising than myself…it is of course a well rehearsed performance but he finds it less anxiety inducing than I do. Ironically, I come across as more socially able as I talk rather a lot but much of this is nervous waffle as I just never seem to ‘fit in’. Even when I think I am accepted by my peers, my naivety is later exposed and I realise that people have taken advantage of me or been unkind behind my back. I am great with children though…possibly because with them, what you see is what you get!

      It is a shame people see AS as a disability. I understand that autism is a spectrum disorder with varied levels of severity but I think it creates nice, genuine, honest people who, on the most part, are intelligent but misunderstood. People are afraid of difference when I believe that such positive difference should be embraced. If only more people thought the way we did…the world would surely be a better, more logical place.

  2. Cynthia, I want to think you again for all of your kind support. I’ll try not get to long winded, but there’s a lot going on. I have a somewhat strained relationship with my parents and siblings. I have made very bad decisions and hurt people I love at times. I used to be really co-dependent and would cling, white-knuckled, to any man who would have me. About 12 years ago, I got involved with a grifter (naïveté being a common pitfall of Aspergers). He did the typical mind control, divide and conquer thing. Needless to say, a rift was driven. I forced myself to live alone for a while & came to understand what I was looking for: love, loyalty, understanding, humor, intelligence, protectiveness, and providence; in that order. 6 out of 7 ain’t bad from where I’m sitting. My Aspie husband basically hasn’t made money the whole time we’ve been together(gasp). “What good is a man who doesn’t provide?”, the NT would ask. I would say that’s a really closed-minded question. My mother thinks he’s bad for me, and in some ways he is. He is clingy, possessive, lazy, and capricious. These are all things I can forgive, because I share these traits, to a lesser degree.
    This is part of a convo I had with my mother today:
    Mom: “does he have Down Syndrome? What’s wrong with him?” (Not making this up, kids)
    Me: No! He has the same IQ as me, and the same “problem” as me!
    Mom: “Does he get disability?”
    Me: no
    Mom:”He’s never made any money. He just drags you down.”

    She equates money with happiness, so I guess she reasons that these two men that her daughter has supported financially are the same animal.
    Every aspect of life has its own economy, and I am simply more concerned with emotional than financial currency. Does anyone have any advice for helping her understand?
    I have started my own WordPress blog username-hessiafae
    Cynthia, aspiecook, & anyone else who is interested, I would feel honored to be followed by you, as you have given much comfort to myself & my family in this somewhat overwhelming time! Thanks again!

    1. I’m not sure how best to approach your mom to help her understand because it sounds she has different values which can be hard to overcome. Perhaps just keep telling her that you’re happy. Thank you for letting me know about your blog. I’ll check it out.

  3. Thank you very much for this. I actually learned my girlfriend was diagnosed with Asperger’s just today, and, after assuring her that it didn’t change how I feel, and that I love her for who she is, I began to research on Asperger’s and relationships with those with Asperger’s. I learned a lot, and it actually explains a lot of her behavior that I didn’t get, like why it sometimes seemed like she was being cold and insensitve. Your story helps me out a lot, and I’m going to take it to heart. I love her more than anything, and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. She can be frustrating at times, and this probably means we might have a more difficult time than a ‘normal’ couple, but I’m willing to work at it with her. Thank you again, and this is a very nice blog you have here. =)

    1. Your girlfriend is lucky to have you. It’s great that you’re researching on your own and trying to understand her in light of her diagnosis. Not all partners react so positively.

      Since I wrote this series, my husband and I have worked on a lot of the things I mentioned here and our relationship is better than ever. Just knowing the reason for a lot of the things I do and being able to work with or around that has made a huge difference.

      Good luck to both of you!

      1. Thank you very much. I loved her long before she told me, and I view her diagnosis as something that’s a part of her, not something that’s wrong with her as if it was some sort of infectious disease, so my feelings for her are as strong as ever, if not stronger. We’re working at our relationship, and we’re even closer than we were before. Thank you again, and my best wishes for you and your husband. =)

  4. Thank you for this column. I have a fresh relationship (3 months) with an Aspie woman and nowadays we met our biggest challenge yet…Not enough that this relationship came out of the blue for her, without meaning to search for one at all – for the first time in years she’s free from any social obligation (being married \ raising babies \ etc…) – we found out that she’s pregnant. it was a shock for both of us, but we decided to keep it and go further with our relationship. however, soon it seemed that she became overload with the emotions and the situations ( not to mantioned the hormonal side effect of the pregnancy). And now its been a week that we have no connection at all (we’re not living together). its look like her brain suffered meltdown and she had to take me away from her life to recover. I love her like i never loved anyone else before, and want to spent my rest of my life with her. (we had a very intense relationship so far).
    though i don’t want her to change it hard to know how to react in this situation. Hope you can share some of your thought with me.

    1. It sounds like she needs some time to cope with what she’s experiencing. Getting pregnant unexpectedly so soon into a relationship can be a lot to process. You say that the relationship was very intense from the beginning and that plus the pregnancy (the hormonal changes can be very hard to cope with) may have pushed her into a serious case of overload. Often, the best way to recover from being overloaded is time alone.

      Does she have support from others in her life (family, friends) who can be there for her right now? Does she know that you love her and are ready to support her in whatever way you can? If so, then perhaps it’s best to give her a little space for now. If you’re not sure, you could write her an email or note letting her know how you feel. That she can respond when she’s ready.

      Maybe after some time passes, gently check in with her to see how she’s doing and what sort of relationship arrangement she feels she can cope with. Be patient and available and be sure she knows that you love her and want to support her. Hopefully she’ll want to resume your relationship once she’s recovered. Good luck with it.

  5. TNX !! its so helpful to talk to someone who really knows about it. I’m still exploring your blog, for hours now.
    Yes – She have her friends she get support by and yes – she knows I love her and will be supportive in any way I can.
    I think i give her space during the last 7 days…I don’t call her, maybe 3 times I text her to say I love her and support her. thats about it…
    But the silence from her is very scary cause I know she sees my messages and yet no comment at all. I know she’s having hard time with the hormonal changes, besides all others tasks of life – parenthood, her studies , etc… and i know she’s confused and overload and pulling herself together again slowly…But for my NT brain it seems like she took me out of her life…
    how much time this recovery should take ? if there wasn’t the pregnancy thing it would be easier to cope for me to, but thats not the case here…

    1. I understand that it must be very hard to not hear from her. How much time she needs is hard to say – everyone is different. Can you check in with one of her friends to get an idea of how she’s doing? Not in a weird creepy way but in a “I’m concerned and don’t know what to do” way.

      1. Thanks again for your advices. I’m in contact with her friend, and she’s trying to help us both. My questions for you are, if I may…do I should do nothing? As I read in your posts and as she told me just as we started dating that she has like 2 to 3 days per month that she’s doing shutdown and disconnect and I should wait patiently to her to recover and so I did, doing nothing. But this case is so different…what happens to the ASpie brain in this kind of situation? Does she disconnect me from her life because she can’t Handel apany kind of emotional thing from me? From daily contact it became no connection at all in hour.
        Sorry if I sounds histeric, but I guess it’s because I love her and can’t understand her right now…

        1. Since I don’t know what’s happening with your girlfriend it’s hard to say what she might be experiencing. However, I think being available but not pushing is best for now. If she feels pressured, she might withdraw completely whereas if you’re patient and understanding, she will probably appreciate that once she’s feeling better. Since her friend is in touch with her, I think it’s a good idea to see what she thinks you should do and try to keep the lines of communication open that way. Good luck with – I hope it works out for both of you.

        2. Where do people get help for this? Are there doctors that can help people in these relationships? I’m seeing a lot of people freaked out, or enough solution. That’s not a stab at this author or website, but….what do people do to save their marriages when they don’t find out until after they made their vows?!?!?! My AS wife and I (non-AS as far as I know, may test myself as well husband). I feel like I’m in 911 mode here…

          1. I hear you Gordon, I am an undiagnosed Aspie woman (getting assessed in November) married 17 years to a mostly NT guy.
            I am actually mortified that I offered myself as marriage material whilst I was unaware of all this stuff.The last thing you want to feel is that someone is doing you a favour by learning to tolerate you. And no doubt that cuts both ways. It’s pretty confronting right now cause the light has only just gone on though I have a child that has been diagnosed for nine years. Maybe it feels less threatening as you go on, with it all out in the open (I hope). In Aus we have guy called Tony Attwood who is world renowned for his work in Autism and such people can point you in the right direction for support. Hence I now have a go to place for a trusted assessment. Don’t expect authentic practitioners to come cheap though. They know their value and are priced accordingly. Sorry you and your loved one have found yourselves facing this tsunami of reality.

  6. Thank you for posting this.
    I have dealt with a lot of insecurities and depression over the last couple of years because my husband always has other female friends (we were friends first before we became a couple and he has always been a lady’s man so I knew what I was getting into) but he goes above and beyond to show me that he only loves and wants to be with me. But I am just always worried he will find someone else that he can better communicate with, someone that he can talk to more easily without all the complications we have.

    My husband and I, although we try so hard, often leave an argument both feeling misunderstood and frustrated. I know he gets tired of having to give me the same advice on how to handle situations dealing with other people. I think he feels like I should just be able to change these behaviors, overcome my anxieties, learn how to prioritize and be more cognizant of how my actions and words affect other people. I often feel as though I am retarded because I just can’t “get it”. He often says “I just can’t talk to you anymore” and compares how our relationship was when we were best friends vs. now that we are in a relationship.

    In your post, you stated that it is essential to know what can be changed and what must be tolerated. I have found tons of information on the web about what the NT partner can do to help in the relationship and other therapy options for the Aspie partner, but I cannot find anything that’s free that explains what an Aspie can change and what they can’t. I have no idea where to start and feel that sometimes I am trying to change things that can’t be changed and that makes me feel even more incompetent. If we could understand what can be changed, what can be modified and what just needs to be accepted, it would help us adjust our expectations so we can be successful in our marriage. We both love each other so much and it would be horrible for our marriage to break down because we can’t communicate efficiently.

    I would really appreciate your insight, thanks!

    1. I think what can be changed is different from each person and is something that you and your husband would have to identify together and commit to working on. What can be changed is defined by a lot of factors, including how much work you’re willing to put into something versus how much reward there will be for the effort and what your capacities and strengths are. It’s also important that both partners commit to changes that will make a difference.

      I know what you mean about feeling more incompetent when trying to change something that feels impossible. Not everything is “fixable” and I’ve discovered that it doesn’t have to be. We’ve learned to live with a lot and once we accepted that it’s been mostly fine. I wish I had an easy answer for you. Relationship stuff is so hard. Talk with your husband and start slowly and see where it takes you. It doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not easy, but it’s definitely possible to make some positive changes that will make life together easier.

  7. As an undiagnosed, but undoubtedly autistic, wife of a neurotypical man, I am very grateful for this post. It points out a lot of things that are obvious, a lot that should be obvious, and a lot that aren’t obvious, to both myself and my husband, and neatly wraps up a lot of helpful reminders. This is definitely one to remember and reread.

  8. Hello Cynthia,

    Thanks for writing an insightful and logically written blog!

    My name is Keith and I’ve been married for over 10 years to my wife. Only very recently did I realize that my wife may be an aspie, after so many years of confused frustration and therapy (only for myself!). (There is a match on almost all the aspie criteria and she is very high functioning. And each match can be backed up by so many data points illustrating the behavior pattern. Look, I sound like “The Scientist!”)

    I am very committed to my wife and believe that there is no stigma to have any “mental health” related issues but my wife definitely attaches a lot of stigma to “mental health” issues so it’s very hard for her to even hypothetically accept that she may have a few issues of her own! (I know this from experience!)

    As is well known, lack of communication, intimacy, low empathy are a major issue esp. for “NT” spouses and I feel if she acknowledges where this might be coming from, I feel a little better on those fronts and she feels a little better because she knows why. I feel the marriage is eminently sustainable if she is aware of some of these and their affect on me/us. Otherwise, I sometimes feel very overwhelmed and we have even talked about separation on days where it simply got too difficult to put up the stress on seemingly small issues.

    Is there any value in sharing my idea that she may have some of these aspie traits in a respectful way? (For e.g. by focusing on the positive side of her traits : intelligent, persevering, dedicated, loyal and very logical etc. Indeed these apply to her very much. )

    Or should I let sleeping dogs lie 🙂 ?

    BTW, one of my ideas on pointing her to “aspie” info politely is share your blog section on Aspie Marriage since it proves to her that it can be managed, and we have already been doing “alright” so far!

    Interestingly, all this time I never doubted she loved me even though there have been fewer than 20 verbal displays of affection, empathy etc(E.g. “I love you” or “I’m sorry” etc) in over 10 years. This is because she always said “focus on the actions, words are cheap!”. Now I understand, kinda 🙂

    Sincere thanks,
    Keith

    1. I think it’s fine to share your thoughts with your wife as long as you present it in a “here’s something I’ve been thinking” sort of way and leave it up to her what to do with the information. I know that for a long time I wasn’t open to hearing that I should do some self-examination and actually got angry at the people who suggested it. As long as you’re prepared for the possibility that it might not go well, it’s worth a shot. 🙂

    2. Hi Keith. I’m an aspie wife and there’s a short book called the 5 Love Languages that changed all my relationships. The premise is that all humans have a primary way they feel loved: Loving Touch, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts and Words of Affirmation.

      At first, I related only to ‘the language’ that made sense to me (Acts of Service). When my husband would accuse me of never saying I love you or never wanting to hold hands, I would give the same reply as your wife because to me actions are more powerful than words.

      This book helped us both understand the other persons ‘Love language’. Was it strange for me to say I Love You,not because it came in a flush of joy from my heart of hearts, but because it made him happy? You bet. But then he tried doing acts of service for me and it made me feel so cared for. I realized saying ‘I Love You’ was THE WAY I could do an Act of Service for him that actually made him feel loved by me.

      He learned that if he wanted me to respond affectionately to his I-love-you’s, he had to say “I love you so I changed out that lightbulb you mentioned earlier.”

      Best wishes

  9. Marriage between an aspie and a neurotypical can work. my brother, a suspected aspie, is married to an nt woman, and it works great.
    I’d feel more comfortable with another aspie, and there are many benifits to an aspie dating/marrying another aspie. however, what if their obsessions dont match, for instance? what if they both are not flexible and fuel each other’s rage attacks?
    what if one aspie is the clinging type, and the other is the solitary type?
    i’d say both can work, or not work. that depends on the situation.

  10. My Aspie/Aspie marriage works because we work at it. I suspect the same is true of all marriages. Things do get heated at times, but we put a lot of effort into breaking past each other’s communication barriers.

  11. Thank you so much for your site! My aspie husbands finds it invaluable and I too have learned a lot from it. Do have any good resources or online support forum suggestions for partners of people on the spectrum? I feel I could be a better partner if I had other people who know what I’m going through and understand the struggles of my partner as well. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again!

    1. I’m glad you’re both finding the blog helpful. 🙂

      I actually don’t know of any good websites for partners, but perhaps someone else will see this and share a link or two. Have you read The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood. I think it’s a good general reference to start with. I’ve also heard that Rudy Simone’s “22 Things” books are good resources for partners of people on the spectrum, but I haven’t read them myself.

  12. I want to thank you very much for musing out loud, because like you and others, I’ve found it nearly impossible to find any information about women with Aspergers.

    When my daughter (16) was diagnosed with ADHD, when she was 8 years-old, I recognized many of the symptoms I had struggled with all my life. But as I am not a child and not going to school anymore, I didn’t bother to have myself diagnosed or to get treatment for it. A few years later, my now 12 year-old son was also diagnosed with ADHD.

    Fast forward a good couple of years and one autistic child later (who is now 7 years-old) and the wheels started coming off big time for me. The process of having my son diagnosed was soul destroying and I realized that I could not cope, as my ADHD symptoms (or so I thought at the time) became debilitating.

    So, off I went to the doctor, explained my symptoms and he prescribed Ritalin for me, without having a formal diagnosis. Using Ritalin didn’t really make any difference – in fact, it made me feel really anxious, but I continued taking it, as it helped me to lose weight (bad, I know).

    Then in October last year (2014), I was really struggling to cope with just about everything, so I decided to get a formal ADHD diagnosis. Halfway through the assessment sessions (of about 10 in total), the psychologist hinted that it was not what I thought at all, but that it was something completely different, And because I have read just about every book and paper on the subject of my son’s autism and recognized some of the traits in myself, I thought that maybe the diagnosis would come back as ASD. But no, it was not ADHD. The diagnosis was major depression, Schiziod personality disorder, with Avoidant personality traits and a moderate anxiety disorder.

    To be honest, the diagnosis did not sit well with me for various reasons. The most important one being that it didn’t explain my early childhood struggles – my feelings of being different, always feeling inferior to others, my struggles to make and keep friends, to name but a few.

    Then last week, looking for answers, I started an exhausting Internet search and found out that many adults (35 years and up – I am 42) with ASD, have been misdiagnosed as Schizoid individuals. I also learned that the MCMI-III test I did with the psychologist (on which they based my final diagnosis), mainly tests for emotional and interpersonal difficulties (not ASD). but that it can aid an ASD diagnosis, as it helps to understand the nature of the defensive structure a patient has built around their ASD symptomatology.

    More searching, and after having completed a few online Asperger tests (which all showed a high likelihood of me being ASD), I finally stumbled across your page 🙂 – I did the Aspie test and scored 163/200. Since then I have read everything here (twice) and for the first time ever, I am beginning to understand my life and me – thank you for that.

    My marriage (of 18 years) has been a disaster from beginning to end, as I am married to a man with a Type A personality. It has not been easy for him or for me (to put it mildly). But after reading your Aspergers and Marriage posts, I felt quite excited to share my discovery with my husband, appealing for his support (in obtaining a formal ASD diagnosis) and for his understanding and hopefully together making our marriage better, taking it step by step – empowered by this new knowledge. Much like you and the Scientist have done.

    How very wrong I was. He is annoyed by what he calls my deep, dark, psychotic, psychobabble neurosis (or words to that effect). Says he doesn’t care whether I have Apergers or not. Says it makes no difference to him. He implies that I am bored, with too much time on my hands and therefor looking for a spot of drama.

    Feeling sad and disheartened and just wanted to tell someone who understands.

    Thank you.
    Yolanda

    1. I’m sorry you’re having such a rough time of it. The long journey you describe is so familiar and you’re correct about Schiziod personality disorder being a common misdiagnosis for adults on the spectrum. I took the MCMI-III as part of my evaluation so I’m familiar with the questions on it and it’s definitely not an ASD screening instrument and I can totally see why you ended up with a handful of other diagnoses in place of autism if they based your diagnosis primarily on the MCMI-III.

      Regarding your husband’s reaction, this isn’t uncommon. It can be really hard for loved ones to readjust their concept of us or to see why a diagnosis might be important (especially when we’re so excited about something that other people usually perceive as negative and will see as coming “out of the blue”). It sounds like you’ve done a lot of research on your own and have arrived at a fairly conclusive self-diagnosis which you’re using to better understand yourself. That’s huge and perhaps something that you can take solace in, in the absence of your husband’s acceptance. It’s also important to remember that you share something really important with your children and will be able to guide them in ways that many of the other adults in their life can’t begin to understand. They’re lucky to have a mother who instinctively understands how they see the world.

  13. I would love for you to write a post about all of the positive characteristics of those with autism. People with autism have many desirable traits that are often over looked. I married a high functioning autistic man and many things that attracted me to him and what I admire about him are his autistic traits. I have a daughter now with autism and my connection and love with her is a different and amazing connection that I have nor will ever have with any other. You write so wonderfully, I was wondering if you could write on this topic. Hope you’re having a wonderful day, I enjoy everything you post.

  14. Thank you!

    As you know, it’s very difficult to find information about marriage and ASD that isn’t a horror show. Therefore, the group of NT spouses (usually wives) who post horror stories gets overrepresented, and when affected people stumble into them, it can be disheartening and depressing. In a few cases, I even think they’re dangerously close to hate speech.

    We need more positive stories, more good examples for us to follow. Thank you again!

    1. Yes! My fiance and I suspect he may have ASD (though not certain, because he is very empathetic and caring and can be very physically affectionate, among a few other things), and I do have some anxiety and fears about this. I’ve seen so many horror stories and warnings to stay away, which is terrifying and very disheartening. Regardless of whether he does have it or not, it’s helpful to find sites like this that it can be done (and well), though it does require extra work.

  15. Thanks for your books and website. My gf suspected that I might be autistic a few years ago and after reading more about it there were just so many “aha!” moments. I’m going to suggest she and I read this series together.

  16. There is also much good stuff on the net to help. I suggest you try 90 things an Asperger husband can do to help a marriage. Buy the book of Maxine Aston’s called something like Marriage Workbook for Asperger Marriage.(sorry I am away on holiday and don’t have exact title accessible.)
    There are lots of small clips on the web with good info.
    Google Tony Attwood’s site as to where his conference’s on NT/ASD relationships are this year and try to attend one.
    As an aspie you will need to be proactive and vigilant. My suggestion is work on one point and make it your ‘special interest’ so that it becomes part of your daily routine. eg a kiss hullo, a tender thank you or a small gesture. Slowly add others to your routine as you learn. As a NT wife I would rather one small gesture done well than several things done randomly.
    Ignore the sites where all they do is moan about how awful it is, we all need hope in order to keep going, on both sides of this dilemma.

  17. My husband was recently diagnosed (unofficially) as having Asperger’s. My first reaction was to gain information, google everything. My next reaction was to run and run fast. We had only been married a year and I was not prepared for this. Everything I read was negative. He felt like he had been given a gift, his life finally made sense. I felt like a bomb had gone off in my face. He did not/could not understand my view of things. Your site was the first one I read that held some promise of hope for our future. As it was written by an aspie he was able to understand some of the things I would need from him. I still feel we have a lot to learn and life will be more of a challenge then I expected at this stage of life. We are not young, all our children are grown and living their own lives now. But because of your site there is hope….plus I love him so so very much. Thank you.
    My biggest problem at the moment is I that unless you live with an aspie you don’t know what it is like to live and love an aspie so my support people are struggling to understand what a challenge this as they see him as a funny personable great guy. I have taken copies of things you have written that has helped them to understand. keep up the good work.

  18. Thank you so much for these. Despite being middle-aged I’ve never had a long-term relationship—I don’t know how to negotiate my way into them, at least not far enough down the line that the other party becomes fond of me and so might put up with my deficits. It’s partly because I wasn’t diagnosed until age 52, so when I was young and trying to play the dating game I wasn’t able to put into words what my difficulties are. Your articles have helped me understand some of the things that went wrong with my fumbling and often frankly hilarious attempts to pass for normal!

    (I’ve stopped even trying to pass now, by the way. I’ve done enough to prove my worth in the world—and anyway, I can’t be arsed!)

  19. I really need some help with my wife, we got married a year and a half ago, after dating for many years. I don’t know where to begin even and I am pretty freaked out but not ready to give up on this marriage. We need help though, any suggestions?

  20. Gordon, I am married to ASD husband and knew for many years things were not ‘right’. He was diagnosed at 67, 18 months ago. I have found the following things useful- download of the ASPIA (Australia)website a handbook for the partners of aspies. It will cost you $25A but it is worth its weight in gold.Read books, particularly books on ASD/NT relationships, (there are plenty on Amazon,Fishpond etc.)A very good resource is Maxine Ashton, she writes of the deficit we NTs get into, (google Cassandra Syndrome), it describes it well and she has written several good books, one which we worked through together called The Asperger Couple’s Workbook. It gave me a structure from which to ask questions and gain insight into ASD. Once we had a structure, my husband realised I was genuinely wanting to understand, not pry into him.(he is super sensitive to criticism)
    The other thing that has become my lifeline is to go away regularly alone or with NT friends. I offer no excuses or apologies, this is how it is in order for us to survive, I must have time away to recharge.For me it is 1 weekend in 5.
    I do not know which country you live in but Tony Attwood offers fantastic seminars on NT/ASD relationships and we flew to Australia from NZ to learn about it. Huge relief for me to know I had not imagined the behaviour and there was an explantion however all the info in the world does not relieve the tension this causes. I have had to ‘put on my big girl pants’ and ‘man up’ and look after me. No one else will do it.I am sad that it is so factual and calculated but it was either that or slowly drown in the neglect of a partner who could not see or anticipate my needs.
    Having a support group or website to ask questions is also helpful.
    Hope this helps.

  21. At pre-school age and through about 1st grade I was the classic Little Professor. As compared with my brother, who is much lower functioning than me, I think my parents figured I was just a nerdy, slightly off beat NT. They had no concept of me as a disabled person. Mind you this was years ago, at the cusp of the 60s and 70s. Way before there was much Dx of kids let alone adults.

    So then, being high functioning enough to feel some of the NTs’ world, I figured I should try to be cool. I grew my hair and made a decent go at sports. My best was baseball, I was OK in football and the rest did not work out very well. This was a double edged sword, as it thrust me right into the midst of Jockorama (hat tip to the DK’s / Jello Biafra – some may know that song – an old 1980s hard core punk classic). Talk about being in the lair of bullying. Well, if I was not a jock maybe I was a stoner. Mind you all the while I still got OK grades, I was on the college track.

    So I did the stoner (albeit brainy stoner) thing until late high school. Never really mastered the dating thing but at least made a go of it. On to college. It was in early adulthood that I thought I’d finally achieved cool. I had girl friends, I surfed, I did lots of cool stuff. I’d become a punker by then as well. As is wont to happen, that phase of life went by all too swiftly. Next thing I knew I was a new grad. Somehow the overall demographic of my adult circles was older than me (no real surprise being Gen X). So I had a series of relationships, flings and etc with women 2 – 8 years older than me. Obviously this was not a setting leading to a good chance of marriage. To be fair though, I was not explicitly trying to reach a married state quickly.

    Time passed and all of a sudden I was in my late twenties starting to have a reasonable career. By then I’d found some younger women to date. I dated one that would become my wife. Strangely, at the outset, I was not taking it super seriously. She seemed to be though. Now for complications. She was from a different culture, one that discriminates against disabled people, based on a belief that being disabled was punishment for a past life’s karma. So, having a clearly disabled sibling was a bit of a problem. But it got worse. She is abusive, both emotionally and physically. Although she has no Dx, things like biploar and / or OCD are well within the realm of possibility. Somehow, in spite of the various red flags, I asked her to marry me. And somehow, in spite of seeing my obvious ASD sib, my “weird” (later Dxed ASD) Dad and my own notable quirks, she said yes. Minds and emotions work in strange ways.

    In any case, long story short, here I now am, a half century old, married for well over 15 years, and essentially dreading going home most days. Divorce … hmmmmm. Some days I tell myself, just do it. But then I look at the pain that will definitely come later – especially financial. In spite of being deemed a “loser” I am the main source of income. I got very little help and can expect little future help from my parents – it’s all going to a special needs trust for my brother. So whatever I do or don’t do now will affect my elder years. Decisions, decisions.

    In any case, thanks for this blog. It’s an inspiration especially for those of us with a non ASD spouse who is not as good as yours. At least I use some of the techniques you’ve mentioned in order to make life at home slightly less harrowing.

  22. I am finding a lot of information and a lot of comfort in your blog.
    I am a 57yo Aspie male widower, who was married to an NT (or so we thought) for about 27 years. She never fully understood my condition. Unfortunately, she ended up proving to have anxiety disorders and manic-depression, and her bipolar issues and my AS dovetailed into a very painful co-dependent relationship. Like Xavier above me here, there were red flags all over the road, but I was too inexperienced with social interaction to see them and drove blindly on ahead. Xavier, I feel your pain – I lived through it! Get some counseling, would be my best advice. Couple’s counseling or at least get some for yourself.

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one woman's thoughts about life on the spectrum

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