Married to someone with Aspergers....

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-01-2007
Married to someone with Aspergers....
129
Wed, 10-10-2007 - 5:53pm

My self esteem has been gone for a long time and I'm trying to get it back. Prior to getting married, I was working and going to school full time, had friends, was energetic and enthusiastic about life. After being with my husband for almost 15 years I feel depressed, drained, hopeless and pretty lousy. I want to lose weight, go back to school and get into a job where I feel like I am contributing to society but its so hard when I'm having difficulty doing basic things and I have to focus whatever energy that I can muster on taking care of our young son.

One thing that I am trying to do -- for myself and for others, is to get the word out about Aspergers Syndrome so that other women won't be stuck in a relationship not knowing why it isn't working -- no matter how hard they try.

Aspergers syndrome is relatively unknown in the "mainstream" population and many men
with (less severe) AS have learned to adapt their behaviors in public to the extent that
they come across as "normal, nice guys" who are perhaps a little odd or shy.
However, when they are in the privacy of their own homes, other symptoms and
behaviors emerge under stress so there are women out there, who can be married to
someone with AS for years and not even know it. Many times the issues/awareness arises
AFTER a child is diagnosed on the autism spectrum and they learn more about it and start
seeing correlations in their spouses.

I am now a member of a support group for women in these relationships (see my profile for more info) and it is helping to know that I'm not crazy since I now know that there are other women who understand what its like to be married to an Aspie, but how do I regain my self esteem?

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Frequently Asked Questions on Asperger Syndrome
Dr. Kathy J. Marshack, Ph.D., P.S.

1. What is Asperger Syndrome?
Asperger Syndrome (AS) is the term applied to the high functioning end of what is known
as the spectrum of pervasive developmental disorders or the Autism spectrum.
Asperger syndrome is a relatively new category, since it was officially recognized in the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for the first time in 1994.
Since AS itself shows a range or spectrum of symptom severity, many individuals who
might meet criteria for that diagnosis are viewed as "unusual" or "just different," or are
misdiagnosed with conditions such as Attention Deficit Disorder.
The new DSM-4 criteria for a diagnosis of AS include the presence of:
ï The impaired use of nonverbal behaviors to regulate social interaction, failure to ï
develop age-appropriate peer relationships, lack of spontaneous interest in sharing ï
experiences with others, and lack of social or emotional reciprocity.
ï Restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities
involving: preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted pattern of ï
interest, inflexible adherence to specific nonfunctional routines or rituals,
stereotyped or repetitive motor mannerisms, or preoccupation with parts of objects.

2. How common is Asperger Syndrome?
AS is much more common than previously realized and many adults are
undiagnosed.Studies suggest that AS is considerably more common than "classic" Autism.
Whereas Autism has traditionally been thought to occur in about 4 out of every 10,000
children, estimates of Asperger Syndrome have ranged as high as 20-25 per 10,000. A
study carried out in Sweden , concluded that nearly 0.7% of the children studied had
symptoms suggestive of AS to some degree. Time Magazine notes in its May 6, 2002 issue
cover story, "ASD is five times as common as Down syndrome and three times as common
as juvenile diabetes."

3. All of us have symptoms like these at times. Are we all Aspergers?
Many describe living with an Aspie as "water torture." It is the constant drip, drip, drip of
small thoughtless behaviors that destroys the relationship. The lack of eye contact, the
obsessive/compulsive behaviors, the adherence to rigid routines, the self absorption, the
social anxiety, all lead to family members feeling like they just cannot connect with their
Asperger family members. But it isn't so much the unusual behaviors that make the
connecting difficult, but the inconsistency. Never knowing what is coming next, makes a
loving connection very difficult.

4. What distinguishes Asperger thinking from normal thinking?
Asperger Syndrome (AS) is demonstrated by deficits in communication, social skills and
reciprocity of feelings. The Aspie knows what they think and feel but are often unaware of
what their loved ones think or feel. With limited empathy for others, you can't really
connect. So those with Asperger Syndrome go through life focused on their needs and
wants often missing what is going on with others. This does not mean that they don't feel
or love but they don't seem to notice what is going on with others and do not convey that
they care.

5. What is mind blindness?
Most of our communication and interpersonal relating is nonverbal in nature. The person
with Asperger Syndrome has trouble reading these nonverbal cues and therefore ignores
the bulk of communication. This mind blindness leaves the spouse wondering if she is
understood or cared for or trusted by her Aspie partner.

6. Can men with Asperger Syndrome love?
All people can feel love. It's a matter of quality in a relationship with an AS adult. The AS
man never seems to learn that his wife can't feel his love if he does not demonstrate it.
He will do what he thinks is best for the both of them but seldom talks to her about her
feelings or opinions. And if she tries to share her love for him, he may find her need to
"connect" smothering. Often these relationships are without sexual intimacy.

7. Why can't these men connect?
If you don't have much of an interior life yourself and you cannot comprehend the interior
life of another, then connection is very difficult. An Aspie husband and Neuro-typical (NT)
wife are often described as like two insulated wires wrapped around each other, . . .
touching but not connecting.

8. Why do Asperger men and Neuro-typical women get married?
AS men are attracted to strong, intelligent, compassionate women who can handle the
social world for them. These same women are attracted to the unconventional nature and
boyish charm of AS men. They feel he will allow them their independence. It is only later
that they learn their AS partner is quite conservative. Instead of supporting her
independence the NT wife realizes that her AS husband is merely disinterested in her
interests. His attention is narrowly focused on his interests.

9. Are there women with Asperger Syndrome?
Yes and their lives are probably even more complex than their male counterparts. To some
extent, males with Asperger's are more accepted because their behavior is viewed as
extreme male thinking. But women with Asperger Syndrome are viewed as cold, uncaring,
and selfish. Many AS women never marry or they marry AS men.

10. What kind of parents are people with Asperger Syndrome?
We are just learning about this tragedy from adults coming forward to tell about being
raised by AS parents. So far these people are reporting that they have coped with severe
depression and self esteem problems because they lived with a parent who could not
nurture them or get to know who they really are. It is very debilitating to experience
emotional rejection daily as a child, even if your physical needs are provided for. This does
not mean the AS parent does not love their child. But the communication and relating
deficits confuse the child and can lead to the child feeling unloved.

11. Why is it so emotionally debilitating for NTs to live with these people?
When the person you love does not respond to your bids for affection, or attempts to
share your inner world, you come to doubt your perception of reality. Slowly your self-
esteem is eroded. You walk on eggshells wondering what abuse the AS parent or spouse
will dish out next. If your mate, child or parent has not yet been diagnosed, you do not
know that they have a developmental disability. So you keep trying to reach them or solve
the problem and often blame yourself. You find a way to cope and often this creates
severe depression or extreme resentment. Many NTs who have grown up with AS parents
report a lifetime of severe depression, "nervous breakdowns" and a string of broken
relationships because they came to believe that they had no worth. Remember it is the
child's experience that defines the parenting, not whether the AS parent loves their child.

12. What do you mean by walking on eggshells in an Asperger marriage?
Men with undiagnosed AS often feel as if their spouse is being ungrateful or "Bitchy" when
she complains he is uncaring or never listens to her. He knows what he thinks and how he
feels, so should she. He has no need to understand her so her complaints are bothersome
to him. He can come to be quite defensive when she asks for clarification or a little
sympathy. The defensiveness turns into verbal abuse (and sometimes physical abuse) as
the husband attempts to control the communication to suit his view of the world.

13. Is there a cure for Asperger Syndrome or for the marriage?
Asperger Syndrome is an incurable form of autism. The usual methods of psychotherapy
used to teach clients communication and interpersonal skills will not work with AS. The AS
client can master some simple behaviors to get them by in the world, but they will fall
short in the intimacy of marriage. In the marriage the NT spouse will need to adapt to the
handicap. She must learn to translate the language to make her needs and wants as
explicit as possible because her partner cannot read her non-verbal communication. She
must also look to others for the type of personal and spiritual connection she can never
have with her husband.

14. How can you have a marriage without connecting personally or spiritually?
Again it is a matter of quality. If you have many interests in common, such as music or
sports, you may enjoy the companionship of your AS spouse. However, the strain of
raising children who may have inherited AS from their parent, often puts an end to the
marriage. The NT spouse cannot handle the loneliness and abuse, and care for dependent
children as well. Often she is the one to finally call an end to the marriage. On the other hand, some NT spouses report that the marriage can be quite gratifying if their AS spouse acknowledges his limitations and works with his wife to create a kind of loving connection.

15. What can you expect if you divorce an AS man?
Unfortunately he will not understand why the woman wants a divorce and he is likely to be
quite angry about it. Not knowing how to handle his distress he may turn the energy into
revenge. Many high conflict divorces are the result of the negativity and obsessing of the
AS partner regarding the wrongdoing he perceives of his NT spouse. It is likely to be a
long, painful and expensive divorce where all suffer, including the children. Some men
with AS, however, just leave quietly and never remarry, because they cannot quite figure
out how to rebuild a life separately from their former spouse. Some NT former spouses
report that their ex-husband even still refers to her as his "wife" years after the divorce.

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Are you, or do you know anyone in a relationship with a man who has Aspergers Syndrome?





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Edited 11/5/2007 2:39 pm ET by notcaaty



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Are you, or do you know anyone in a relationship with a man who has Aspergers Syndrome?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2011
Sun, 04-03-2011 - 3:16am

Thank you for this info.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2011
Sun, 05-08-2011 - 8:15pm

Dear Bellacat,

This is so close to my heart, I have been married to my husband for eight years, I always thought he was slightly different, but kind and much like yourself he would do anything for me. Our problems started a while ago when he doggedly wanted to pursue a career in Marketing, being with people and running a team. After being made redundant several times, refusing to admit that there is any kind of problem. The fact that he was three years out of work may have said something.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-31-2011
Tue, 05-31-2011 - 7:18am
Thank you for the above post, I am shocked at how the above reads, it could have been written just for me and my husband. Now I know what I am dealing with. I have been married for 22 years and have always wondered what is wrong with my husband. I know he loves me but he struggles to show it. He has all of the above symptoms and I am in a sense relieved but also saddened to learn about this condition, particularly as it is incurable and now I'm wondering what to do. My husband hasn't been diagnosed with this and I'm wondering if it is worth requesting a visit to the docs but then how do I approach this subject with my husband?
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2011
Fri, 06-03-2011 - 11:24am

I'm not in your situation, but my friend has aspergers and it can be a challenge hanging out with her for more than 2 hours.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-05-2011
Sun, 06-05-2011 - 10:59am

Thank God is all I can say.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-05-2011
Sun, 06-05-2011 - 11:33am

It's unfortunate, because I have learned to deal with the majority of issues that come with the AS.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-06-2011
Mon, 06-06-2011 - 10:47pm

So on Friday my husband was "officially diagnosed" with autism spectrum disorder also known as AS.. We have only been married a year and a half, but after moving in with him I knew that something wasn't quite right. Sometimes his little issues would turn into a big arguement because he wouldn't ever really tell me why he was mad or upset... Before dating and getting married I would go out on the weekends and have friends over. Soon after getting married it was a problem with friends coming over and going out into a big crowd. I thought maybe it was just because he was jealous about the time I was spending with other people and not with him... When I would "blow up" he wouldn't understand why.. Soon I learned that his mother had thought he had AS and we wanted to get him tested to make sure.. It took us 9 months to get an appointment and finally a diagnoses... Now that I know that is what is wrong I want to have more patience eventhough it is hard somedays.. Exp.. the way I do things i.e.. putting the clothes in the washer the way I have always done and not going by the directions on the lid.. It's not a big deal to most people but to him it is.. I just want to talk to other wives that have husbands who have this disorder.. I can talk to my friends but sometimes I just get weird looks cause they haven't a clue... I hope I can fine others on here that want to talk aswell...

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-13-2011
Mon, 06-13-2011 - 8:33am

I too have a 'slightly different' husband. Many people think he is quirky and funny but he has a very angry and unreasonable side and if I don't do things his way I cop verbal abuse.

For many years (we have been together for almost 10 years) I have known he was different, sometimes I thought he was totally crazy and other times I think of him as a little 'broken' - not quite right . Only in the past 6 months did it occur to me that Aspergers was the thing coming between us. He will not consider the idea that he has Aspergers but the more I read the more certain I am. Most of the time I can negotiate my way around him but when we have visitors it becomes hard to do things his way and he acts out. Having people stay with us overnight or longer is a nightmare for me. This weekend we had a visitor with us and now that I am more aware of Aspergers I see why he acts the way he does.

I am not sure how to proceed. At worst he is verbally abusive and that is inexcusable, At best it is incredibly lonely to be in this marriage. The minimise his anxiety we need to live a fairly reclusive life, but I enjoy having friends in my life. We have a baby now and although my husband is able to be with the baby now (playing in a childlike way) I am sure that when the baby starts to talk and seek some emotional connection with his father there will be a problem. I have had a few medical problems in the previous few years and they are all caused by stress. Now that I am conscious of it I am aware that my stress level increases every weekend when my husband is around the house more.

I know that he is a good person...I know that he means well, but he is almost completely emotionally empty...I seek some connection with him and I feel like there is a vast empty space there, I try to speak to him and it feels like I am speaking a foreign language to him. I long for his next business trip so that I can have a break from his constant lecturing to me, obsessing about irrelevant matters and enraged outbursts. I have had 2 mental breakdowns in the past 5 years and I must not go through this again now that I have a baby who needs me...

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-16-2011
Thu, 06-16-2011 - 4:44pm

I have been in a relationship with an aspergers guy for the last 8 months, I love him, yet I don't know if he can fulfill my needs, I know I should run a mile although he intrigues me with his different way of thinking, he says hurtful thing to me, but then he can logically explain his reasons behind his words, which actually makes sense although it has dented my confidence along the way. I have just found out he is

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-28-2011
Tue, 06-28-2011 - 9:52am

This is a bit long story but I am so desperate...I don't know what to do.....I am feeling depressed. I don't know if it Aspergers or what but it does sound like it.


I met this guy online oner year ago (I am European and he is Australian). We were talking on Skype every second day for 4 months and we both were looking for the same: a serious relationship that could end up in marriage and children. He is 47 and I am 39. None of us had been married before.

After talking for 4 months he came over to Europe to meet me and we spent 3 weeks. Everything went fine apart from the strange fact that we never had any physical contact, sex during those 3 weeks. After another 2 months I went to Australia to live with him as we both agreed.

When I arrived in Australia he did not treat me as a partner at all. He did very strange things, such as sitting by himself on the couch separate from me. I would ask him if he could sit down next to me and he used to say: "I have been living by myself for 10 years and this is what I am used to doing". Many times he said no. When trying to kiss him he would tell me I was very demanding and I had high expectations, we would always go with friends but rarely by ourselves. In social events he would disappear and leave me alone considering I was new in the country and I didn't know anyone. We didn't have sex whether on the 3 weeks he visited me first and it took about 5 weeks till we had the first sexual interaction. Sex used to be so infrequent and I was always demanding it. I found really strange that he didn't have sex with me but masturbated in front of me from the very beginning. I found that so hurtful. He used to say that he was used to living by himself and he was not used to having someone with him. He used to say that he needed his privacy and space. While eating he wouldn't even have a conversation with me and many times he would finish eating and leave the table while I hadn't even finished.

Everything came to him being used to being by himself. Everytime I tried to talk about the issues he would become very defensive and end up accussing me of being demanding.

I had to organise a visa to stay in Australia after my first tourist visa expired. He never helped me with anything. I was trying to do a course and I had to look for the courses, apply for the visa, and do everything myself. Every time I talked to him he would get angry and aggressive. I needed to change the date on my air ticket and when I asked him which date to choose he would get angry and ignore me.

I was so tempted to leave so many times and I packed my clothes in the suitcase. My clothes were packed for 2 months out of the 4 and 1/2 that I spent there. Not once did he ask me to unpack and stay. Many times when I told him that I was leaving he would ask me to please not go and 3 days later he would tell me: "I think it is better you go". I kept changing my air ticket date because one day he asked me to stay and another to go.

At 48 years of age he used to call his mother to tell her everything and ask for advice and in fact he brought his mother to the flat so often to deal with things. His mother and I would talk and he would go away.

I know he is taking anti depressants and I think he has suffered from depression for years. I also noticed from the very beginning when I met him that he takes Paracetamol every single day (at least 4 tablets a day).

He physically threatened me in a couple of ocassions (one time my arm had bruises) and at the end he said that he would travel with me to my country which he did. The reason he gave is that if I left by myself the relationship would be over whereas if he came with me the doors were open. Stupid me I believed him. He came to Europe for 3 weeks and for the 3 weeks I kept asking what was going to happen. He always said he didn't know and never gave me answers. The last day came before he left and he told me he loved me and that we would be together again and that he could see a future for us together. He also said that we would be in touch. He returned to his country and just after arriving he said he is very confused and he is not clear.

While communicating, he hung up the phone on me, he would say he would send me emails or sms but he didn't. I was being driven crazy. He would say: "I will send you an email tomorrow" and then nothing. We would be talking on the phone and he said he would be back in 5 minutes and he didn't and I contacted him so many times desperately looking for an explanation or answer. Bottom line: we haven't communicated for 1 month now. I don't really know if it is finished, he hasn't even said it is over or good bye, nothing.
Anyone can help? with any advice?

I have been researching and think he might have a personality disorder or something but I don't know.

Thanks

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