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: 02-16-2011
Wed, 02-16-2011 - 5:49pm

I am appreciating the support created here, thank you so much. I am also considering divorce from my undiagnosed Aspie husband of 10 years. It makes me sad because I do love him, and he is very sweet and willing to do almost anything for me. I am everything to him, and he tells me he loves me all the time, and I believe him. He has been willing to learn how to adjust his behavior to appear more sociable, and that helps quite a bit on the surface in certain social situations and even in intimate conditions. But there is no real inner life, no real empathy for others, no real reciprocity, no mirroring of facial expressions, nothing sinks in on any deep level, and I feel like I am living with a robot, outside of his ability to make amazing paintings and music.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-31-2011
Mon, 01-31-2011 - 1:12am

Thank you I'm not alone..I have for most of my marriage years (10 years) thought I was the one that had a problem. I now know that I married a asperger man. It took for me searching Aspergers cause I thought my 6 year old son may have it. At school I noticed that my son couldn't form any friendships with his class mates. Then the school suggested to get his IQ tested!!! Well I found out that he is a gifted child..yes am proud but do believe he does have a very mild aspergers which I'm going to get him tested. Unlike his father he can show love and always talks about how his older sister hurts his feeling...(bless him). My daughter doesn't have it.

Well I do believe my husband has it as everything I have read about it over the last month has proved it. Only this weekend I've come to the point I cant keep living this life as we aren't in a real marriage. We have been sleeping in seperate bedrooms since my daughter was born, she will be 9 in a few months. I put it down to the fact she was very unsettled and the fact it was easier for us to get sleep as both of us worked. I lived with 3 hours of sleep for 16 months and ened up having post natal depression which thank God I got help from my wonderful GP. But since then i always felt something wrong with me and couldn't understand why he never show any affection, I put it down to his up bringing as his mother is a very cold person and she never hugged or kissed any of her children..thinking about it now I do believe his mother, sister and brother have it. I too thought he and his brother had Narissistic Personality Disorder. For so long I couldn't put my finger on it. I haven't been true to myself for years. I now am getting myself right as it's the best thing for my children and ME!!!! Sex with him is very one sided and it's over once his done. No kissing or hugging is involved, sometimes I would joke afterwards and say to him, "maybe I should start charging you"...lol. Money is what makes him tick. This weekend was the very first time we sat down to talk about it. He told me he doesn't want to end the marriage but if it makes me happy I can found it outside the marriage, meaning have an affair aslong as I don't fall in love with the other person!!

I guess I'm still angry and hurt that he thinks that would solve the problem.Sorry for going..but would like to say thank you to

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-27-2011
Fri, 01-28-2011 - 2:32pm
I am very certain, with help of my new counselor, that my husband of 15yrs. is an aspie. This group is especially what I need. I have been so sad, and just feel like I have lost touch with the world. Now we have a 5 and 3 yr. old daughters. I am concerned what this will do to them. Can I be content to continue to be the wife of an Aspie.

I am going to watch the movie Adam. My husband just started counseling but I am not sure if he will ever accept that he has AS.

All these years I have known that something was not what I 'was used to'. I thought my husband had no 'common sense'. So now I am new to this realization. I feel a loss, for me and my daughter. I guess this is a normal stage until what ever is next.

Please respond with an insight that might help me. Thank you so much.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-27-2011
Thu, 01-27-2011 - 4:39pm

Hi! I am a newbie and so thankful that I found this group.

It is so refreshing to read these posts. I have been

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-16-2011
Sun, 01-16-2011 - 12:41pm
Hi notcaaty,
I read your post and you nailed it! I have been looking for other wives of AS and found this site. Everything you said in your post is exactly how I feel. I only found out about my husbands AS last March 2010. We have been married for 23 years and I was extremely frustrated and lonely I'd say the past 18. We are separated and will be filing for divorce soon.

I would love to chat with you and anyone else on this matter and more specifically about the lack of understanding from family members and friends as I am actually having more of a difficult time with that than with the marriage ending.

I am very lucky in that he is very cooperative through all of this and we are still friends for the kids sake and our sanity. I hope that you get this as I see it was posted several years ago.

Thanks hope to hear from you and others soon.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-14-1999
Wed, 01-05-2011 - 7:16pm

If you've met one person with Asperber's, you've met one person with Asperger's.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2011
Sun, 01-02-2011 - 3:04pm

To Pamelajean,

I wanted to apologize for the reply on your post only to go on about my own experience with this. I can see by reading these blogs that everyone's experience if a bit different but one thing I find that does not vary much and that is the condition it has left us all in, feeling lonely, unloved, and frustrated. I liked your point about your husband being a kind, helpful, upstanding man, because

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2011
Sun, 01-02-2011 - 2:47pm
Serenely, I just posted on this subject today, like you was doubting anyone would read it, diid not really care, was good to vent and really good to hear I am not the only one. I was wondering if your husband's acceptance of this is making any difference in your relationship. I talked with my husband about this just this morning and he was reluctant at first but then had to admit that he fit the profile. He seemed happy that I would read up on it so I would better understand him. We have not lived together for 2 years and he has been wanting me to move back. I know it has been awhile since you have posted, but would you let me know how things are going?
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2011
Sun, 01-02-2011 - 1:57pm
Ok here is another women married to an aspie. I honestly did not know anything about aspergers until yesterday when I was googling some of the issues in my marraige. I spent the whole day researching. This morning I called my husband,( we have not lived in the same home for over two years), and I was telling him what I had learned. At first he said there are underlying reasons for all the things he does, but he did admitt that it fit him to a T, and then went on to talk about his superior intellect and how he would be in mensa except for the fact that he didn't get along with them. He has been wanting me to move back for the last year but although I do love him, I also love myself and I know how I went from a strong, happy person to a broken, lonely woman with no self esteem in two short years. I have been confused with our relationship from the start, like a lot of other woman I figured that all problems could be resolved if you loved someone enough, but that is not true is it. I feel hopeful at this point, I am going to do some reading and I see their are several books available on this subject. One is 22 things women who are in love with aspies need to know. I will then have to make a decision on whether I am up for this. I am a christian, that is the only reason I did not divorce years ago. I will tell you a bit about my husband and our relationship,I sure you will be able to identify, although two days ago I never imagined that anyone would. Seemingly warm and caring one minute,cold as ice the next. It usually takes him some time to mull things over in his mind and will apologize for his rudeness. Our marriage was never consumated, he blamed the meds he was on. No touching him unless he initiated it. Everything HAS to be in it's place, and do not move anything. One day while he was working I put up a tapestry in the livingroom. I could see he was upset the minute he saw it, but I had no idea the extent until he went into a rage an hour or so later. He began kicking and punching the frig and and for the lack of a better use growling and grimacing and holding his head as if it were going to explode. Later I asked him if it was about the tapestry and he said no, umm well maybe, and he wouldn't talk about it any further. Don't touch his things or move them. Do not make any messes even if you are in the middle of a project. He can only tolerate dim lights in the house and you are only suppose to use certain lights for certain activities. The bathroom fan should only be on when he decides it should be. Napkins and paper towels are not interchangable. He can handle about 15 minutes of a family get together and I just hope he is not rude to anyone or hurt their feelings. He is usually feels someone said something that was meant as a slam against him. Like my bro-in-law talking about his education, my husband feels that was said to belittle him in the fact that he never finished college. My husband says(seriously) that you can do whatever you want as long as it does not interfere with his happiness. To him that is a logical thing to expect. He can talk for hours, but is totally disinterested as soon as I start to talk. I might be sharing something very important and he will interupt with something like," I don't mean to interupt but I saw a deer on the way home from work today" or " those damn cow birds were at the birdfeeder again today" I gave up trying to talk to him long ago and just answer questions. Now you are most likely thinking why am I still married and I can tell you there is a whole other side which I really like. It is hard to explain but there is still something that draws me to him, which just makes it all the more frustrating. I could go on and on because this is something I never really talk to people about. I feel someone here will understand what I am talking about and that feels really good.

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