• Tag Archives Asperger’s syndrome Cognitive Empathy
  • I’M STILL HERE… & WHAT ABOUT PRESIDENT ASPIE?

    PRESIDENT ASPIE?

     

    First:  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being patient with me during my extended break from writing. As many now know, I am a nurse in the United States Navy and spent the last three years working a demanding schedule on the island of Guam. Since I never imagined my blog would reach the number of people it did, I was ill-prepared to keep up with my posts the way I should have (to not leave you all hanging).

    I am settled in to my new location and have finally come to a place where my free time is truly my free time… which means I can begin writing again!

    Thank you all for your patience and for holding on to hope that I had not vanished because my marriage failed (as some suggested). I was just taking a mental health pause to ensure my home/career foundation was solid before I dug back in to share the insanity and wonderment of my Aspie/NT-e marriage with all of you!

    John and I are still going strong and I am still very in love with my Aspie husband. I am still 100% optimistic and motivated to share every bit of positive insight I can with those who care to read. Our world is not now, nor will it ever be, sunshine and roses… we struggle in the same ways neurotypical couples do and we struggle daily to maintain and extend our bridge of communication. While our NT-e/Aspie union is unique to couples like us, we are also unique in the sense that we are both committed to the personal changes required to live a happy life with one another. Some days are awesome and some days suck royally! I will share it all with you… so get ready for some extended reading because I have a ton of posts that just need a bit of editing before they get put up!

    I continue to be humbled by your support, your willingness to share your own deeply personal struggles and successes, and your desire to learn everything you can to understand your spouse, self, and our society better!

    I have to address the elephant in the living room first…

    While I anticipate some rapid-fire posts in the next few months, I have got to address a pressing topic that is refusing to vacate my mind (until I publicly acknowledge it with all of you). The elephant I speak of is our new president and the fact that the whole stinkin’ nation is suffering from a mental-chaos we NT-e wives know all too well!

    Has the world gone mad?

    Nope… they’re just experiencing the Cassandra Phenomenon!

    A while back I put this post up suggesting that President Trump had undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome. Being an active service member, I felt exceedingly uncomfortable writing about my Commander in Chief in a manner by which others could misinterpret as negative. Since this presidency has caused such an emotional response, I felt intimidated that my words could be twisted, or that some might misunderstand my motives for writing about Mr. Trump. Being that I respect those appointed over me with the highest regard, I was fearful that I could be overstepping my professional obligation to my Chain of Command by sharing my personal beliefs, so I took the post down.

    For nearly five months, I waged an unnecessary battle in my mind over this topic imagining the worst possible responses and repercussions for sharing my thoughts. The longer I delayed my desire to point out the obvious, the more frustrated I became with the hysterical rhetoric all around me. As mentioned, I am not a politically outspoken individual and I never have been. I have a professional obligation to never allow personal views to conflict with my military duties and the oath I swore to live by; for this reason, I have always exercised great caution in putting my political opinions out on display. Being that I am also highly opinionated and inherently outspoken in every other aspect of my waking days… I historically found great success in limiting my exposure to the propaganda and “news” found on social media and other outlets. This tactic worked flawlessly for nearly 15 years of military service…

    This tactic is impossible to implement now that the whole nation has lost their damn mind!

    From day #1 of the presidential campaign, I have looked at Mr. Trump and thought… “Well he is obviously an undiagnosed Aspie!”

    As time progressed, I found it really odd that no one else was talking about this seemingly obvious rationale for why he says some of the “inappropriate” things he does. I could not wrap my head around why no one was identifying why he appeared so focused on trivial things to the exclusion of things deemed socially important. Why didn’t everyone else realize that he was chronically lobbying for social acceptance even though his behaviors and words were having an opposing (alienating) outcome… an outcome he always seemed dumbfounded to come upon. It was beyond apparent to me why Mr. Trump continuously acted out in a defiant and aggressive manner the moment he suspected his character was under attack and it was remarkably familiar to watch him preemptively lash out in defense the moment he perceived a potential threat on the horizon. It was also (almost) comical to me that he was in the running with my husband for the world’s WORST “liar.”

    I could not comprehend why people kept referring to him as a sociopath when I was watching a man who clearly did not notice how and why his words were continuously being perceived as malicious and negative. Every time I heard him contradict himself or repeat the same points ad nauseam without picking up on the shit-storm they elicited from the press… I just thought to myself; “Well, duh! That’s what happens when you are blind to cognitive empathy!” All of the unnatural facial expressions, the off-beat tone and pitch by which he spoke, the juvenile-seeming words he chose, the missteps in body language cues, the filter-less verbalization of internal dialog, and every other social faux pas he exhibited… all made for easy box-checking under the list of undiagnosed adult male Aspie behaviors… but no one else appeared to be privy to the same list of common sense explanations I was. The more time progressed, the clearer the explanation became in my mind. The clearer it became for myself, the more distorted it was becoming for those around me until eventually the general consensus was that our 45th president was a narcissistic sociopath hell-bent on destroying the country!

    Wait… what?!?!?

    The saddest part of this entirely paranoid (and incorrect) conclusion about President Trump was that it was promulgated by the very people who should have been educating the masses on the exact opposite. I watched countless mental health professionals diagnose Mr. Trump (on air) with personality disorders and miss the very obvious diagnosis he unquestionably warrants (in my mind).

    The most ironic part of this hostile character assassination of the president is that the people demonstratively shouting that he lacks empathy are the very members of society who claim to be the most empathetic! While I do not agree with the financially motivated bullshit diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (I will refrain from going off on this rant), society has accepted this spectrum to include those with Asperger’s syndrome. In a disturbing twist of justice and acceptance, the masses (who passionately hate President Trump) are too blinded by their own self-righteousness to see they are literally “shaming” and bullying a member of our society who, by current diagnostic criteria, has AUTISM!

    If that is not irony, I don’t know what is!

    I keep wondering what would happen if President Trump received an official diagnosis of ASD. Would those that hate him suddenly shift and regret their incessant attempts to bash him as a human? In my heart, I know they would never accept such a simple explanation because it does not fit in with the narrative that has been created and it most definitely does not fit in with the misunderstandings society has about Asperger’s syndrome (or ASD) in general!

    The Defiant Aspie Husband

    Struggling to see my perspective on this topic?

    Not all adult men with undiagnosed Aspergers are defiant or aggressive in nature. I think at this point, most of the readers who spend time on this website are either Aspies themselves (accused of behaving this way), or NT-e’s who are struggling to function in a relationship with a spouse who comes across as such. As stereotypes go, the more docile and meek an adult Aspie (undiagnosed), the less likely they are to marry an emotionally-charged NT-e. So… for the sake of my readers who predominantly fall into the above mentioned dynamic… I have some pressing questions for you. If you are having trouble considering my conclusions about a man who has inadvertently created mass hysteria in our country, let me ask you this:

    What would happen if you took your defiant Aspie husband and allowed him to be raised with financial power and privilege? What if your husband grew up in a world that did not make sense to him, felt alienated by society overall, could not understand why his best efforts still left people criticizing his character and assigning fault and malicious intention where he innocently never intended it to exist? What if you gave your husband great wealth and surrounded him with people who were too intimidated by his “power” that they never put him in check, rarely disagreed with him, appeased his socially-unacceptable behaviors, or (worse), praised him for being successful without any degree of critique for how he acted in the process of obtaining each success? What if he learned (like my husband did), that the louder, blunter, or more aggressive he became with those he did not understand… the faster he could silence their disapproval or make their incomprehensible and confusing emotional dialog disappear?

    What would you be left with if your husband had been raised in that kind of environment?

    Would he look a little like President Trump?

    I know I cannot make sense of this to the general public… but I have a sneaking suspicion that those NT-e wives out their who reside with a defiant Aspie husband; those who know the devastation of experiencing the Cassandra Phenomenon first hand… I believe you may be able to see the same thing I am. I also believe that if you really stop to consider why the media and society has responded to President Trump the way they have, you will quickly realize they are enduring the Cassandra Phenomenon themselves! How’s that for a bizarre twist in the Aspie/NT-e dynamic no one else could ever comprehend?

    To those who still find my simple explanation for our President’s demeanor too forgiving and cannot let go of the idea that he is a narcissistic sociopath:

     

    Do you really think Mr. Trump is a skilled manipulator? Sociopaths are. Remember, those with Antisocial Personality Disorder have exceptional cognitive empathy (but zero emotional/affective empathy). These people are tuned in to how a person is feeling based on the non-verbal dialog taking place (they just don’t care). It is this intuitive ability to read nonverbal language that enables those with APD to manipulate a person and play on their emotions and empathy to get what they want out of them.

    Does the president appear to be playing a game of chess with the public, appeasing to their empathetic nature in a manipulative manner? Or, does the president appear to be shooting from the hip every time he opens his mouth or posts another tweet that seems to be anything BUT well-thought out?

    Does the president appear to be a socially-skilled and articulate man who commands attention and a desire to please? Or, does he appear to be so socially awkward he misses the simplest cue to shake someone’s hand appropriately or even follow the basic rhythm of socially acceptable dialog?

    Does the president seem to take pleasure in the pain his behavior causes? Or, does he seem completely oblivious that he bears any responsibility in causing anyone else’s personal distress? Does he respond in a cold manner towards humanity by carrying out cruel acts? Or, does he spout off seemingly callous words and then lack the follow through once he identifies the actual human repercussion his suggested actions might pose on real people?

    If you’re tracking right now, you may be noticing that this narcissistic sociopath is anything but a smooth manipulator and a whole lot closer to a man who is blind to cognitive empathy but also lacks the boundaries those like him have in their immediate environment.

    Are you considering that maybe he does have emotional empathy but lacks the ability to implement it… simply because he is chronically missing the cognitive empathy/nonverbal messages required for a person to identify when a situation calls for it?

    Look at our First Lady. Look at Mr. Trumps family. Do you really believe this man is an evil narcissist, or do you think maybe his friends and family know a side of him that we are not seeing, a side that elicits the words they have shared to defend him as a good man?

     

    Please tell me I am not THE ONLY PERSON who VERY CLEARLY sees that our new Commander in Chief is an Aspie?!?!?

     

    Just because I think President Trump is an undiagnosed Aspie does not mean I automatically like, approve of, agree with, or want to defend him as a person (nor am I denying that I do). There are no cookie-cutter individuals with Asperger’s syndrome, just as there are not definitive criteria for deeming someone a neurotypical. There are phenomenal Aspies out there and there are real crappy ones.

    While no two people are alike, there are defining characteristics that are overwhelmingly present for those with Asperger’s syndrome; particularly adult men who have never been diagnosed. From my perspective, President Trump possesses all of these defining characteristics. These characteristics have been and continue to be so apparent to me that I am chronically disappointed no one else is pointing them out in lieu of demonizing him each day. In a sad way, I see constant similarities between my husband and Mr. Trump. I find this sad because I feel empathy for him each time he seems to miss social-norms and I listen to the cruel backlash the media spews at him without missing a beat. The more immature and mean-spirited the media becomes, the more I think about my husband and other adult men with undiagnosed/diagnosed Aspergers and how unfairly judged they have been throughout their lives. I think about how I know what a good man my husband is despite being able to see how others miss this truth when he behaves in socially inappropriate ways or says things without considering how others might perceive his words.

    Yes, it does sadden me to think about how cruel our society is towards President Trump and while I can also understand how his behavior often triggers such responses… I am disappointed in how quickly the masses jump on the negative bandwagon and launch attacks on his character without pausing to consider any other perspective. Sometimes I see Mr. Trump come under attack for innocent missteps (and I will submit that not all are)… but when I put those behaviors in the context of an individual living with the struggle of AS, my heart breaks a little for his/their pain.

    If I am correct about President Trump having undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome, then we are all witnessing the completely disgusting way that our Aspie partner has been treated in his life on a grand scale. Since I have held this belief from the start of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, I have grown tired of the mean-spirited way society has behaved and I am growing more offended each day that we reside with such ignorance… not just from the general public, but from the mental health professionals out there who should have picked up on this by now!

    I just cannot make sense of the professional ignorance

    How are the mental health professionals and Autism advocates missing this poignant representation of how ASD may present itself in an older adult and at least considering this to be true of President Trump?

    Don’t these mental health professionals (deeming him a sociopath) even realize the degree of skill a true sociopath has to manipulate people? Since this man has proven to show success in business, he is educated and intelligent enough to prove if he were a sociopath… he would never say the random, blunt, and often inappropriate things he does. If he was so narcissistic… don’t you think he would be the last person vehemently arguing and defending his character against anyone who he perceives as a hostile threat to his sense of self?  If he was not lacking cognitive empathy, wouldn’t he be able to tell how his own facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice was being perceived by those around him?  If he had cognitive empathy, wouldn’t he prevent himself from coming across this way to others who oppose him so he could get the upper hand on the people he is “trying to control”?

    All I see is an undiagnosed adult Aspie who is still preoccupied with wanting to prove he is a good man and bitterly and heart-brokenly devastated that some people question that… to the point that he acts out in a childish, hostile, and defensive attack mode against anyone he perceives as a threat.  Doesn’t this sound familiar to any of the NT-e wives out there? I see insecurity and fear; I see a lack of comprehension for “why” people are unfairly judging him. I see an absence of comprehension for what words/comments/suggestions he lets out causing the backlash they do. I see a man who is accustomed to being criticized for things he does not understand to the point he no longer tries to apologize and has learned to just aggressively stand his ground regardless of how trivial an issue or simple it would be to try to make “nice” with others… because he never learned (or had to learn) how to accomplish this juvenile conflict-resolution skill.

    Please tell me what you are seeing… for your opinion truly does matter to me.

     

    I do not see a skilled manipulator and I do not see an evil man.

    Now, I have mentioned before that both Putan and Hitler have been “unofficially” thought to have / have had Asperger’s syndrome by some leading experts in the field. Obviously, having Asperger’s alone would not negate the potential for having a comorbid (coexisting) personality defect and I certainly question if Hitler was just an evil sociopath undeserving of an Aspie title. With that being said, I do think there are so many men walking around among us with undiagnosed AS. If I am correct that there is a very large population of adults out there just like my husband or Mr. Trump… it stands to reason that many of his supporters also find it hard to grasp why so many are making a big deal out of things they are also not seeing in his behavior, right?

    I watch his facial expressions and they remind me of how my own husband looks in the mirror and seems to be “practicing” how to make his facial expressions come across in a good way.  Sometimes my husband says the most inappropriate things… sometimes he even makes racist comments or spews out seemingly insensitive things about women and other cultures or generalizes people into lumped categories. Whenever I give him a hard time about it, I become aware that he is either joking (and his words did not appear as such), or he is making blanket comments that popped into his head and then sharing them out loud before he has a moment to consider how they may be perceived. 99% of the time, my husband and I agree on political and social issues despite the initial appearance (via his blunt and offensive comments) and it takes a serious discussion to realize he doesn’t actually believe or think the silly things that spew out of his mouth unintentionally. Aspies don’t always comprehend the balance associated with making politically incorrect jokes and/or when they go a little too far because they fail to pick up on the nonverbal language that tells them they are making someone uncomfortable or offending them.

    Sometimes I think about the inappropriate thoughts I have that are fleeting and not actually how I perceive individuals. I often think to myself, “Damn man, if the random thoughts I have were said out loud… people would hate me!”

    People don’t generally hate me because I was raised with exceptionally keen cognitive empathy skills and have learned the art of tact.

    But consider an Aspie who never learned this degree of tact, a person in the public eye who has been raised with enough privilege to say whatever is on his mind without the backlash a typical person might get (because they have wealth and power to prevent those from combating him openly). Consider if this man never learned to shut his mouth and think about the things he truly felt vice the random fleeting thoughts he had in his mind… before they came out as audible sounds.

    Maybe Mr. Trump is not as scary as some might think. I mean… if every political leader just said what they were thinking without implementing tact and utilizing cognitive empathy…. I bet they would seem a WHOLE LOT WORSE than Mr. Trump does.

    If every bad thought he has makes its way out of his mouth (and it unfortunately appears to a lot)… at least we know where he stands even with his innermost evil human thought processes. Again, we are human and we all possess such thought processes intermittently, we were just lucky in our youth and learned (via cognitive empathy), how to appropriately keep these things to ourselves. All of this easily explains why President Trump says stupid, rude, insensitive things and then goes back and denies saying them.  Not because he didn’t say them… but because he didn’t think before he spoke and doesn’t “really” think those bad things. To him, they were just words and not what he actually “felt” or “believed” and without cognitive empathy… he would just assume that everyone else should have enough sense to know this about him.

    Just like you and I might have an instinctual response to the bred-in racism/sexism/ageism/every-other-ism from time to time and then get upset with ourselves for thinking such things (because we don’t actually believe them in our core), the president appears to do this as well. The difference is… we have an internal dialog that tells us to not allow those thoughts to invade our beliefs about humans and we are able to internally work out why we would allow societal prejudices to invade our minds when we don’t actually believe in them. It is very apparent (to me) that President Trump… well… his internal dialog is broken because he grew up without cognitive empathy.

    Now that the elephant is out and I have beat the horse to death…

    I do hold out the right to not share my opinion of what an undiagnosed Aspie in such an important position means for our future as a nation… because such unfiltered words can instigate unnecessary hate and negativity…. (as if you haven’t already realized this).

    I do hope our President will make rational and logical choices when push comes to shove and that he has the presidential insight we are not privy to.  I do pray someone else recognizes he has a cognitive empathy deficit and is able to stand by his side to mitigate some of the things he says in the future to prevent unnecessary conflict that (I do believe) he wants to avoid as the President of our great nation.

    It is a great nation still. Just because we are seeing the ugly side of ignorance (from whichever perspective you hold), does not mean this is hopeless or we should cease to consider alternate perspectives.

    What if I am right?

    What if this is our chance to be vocal and to be true advocates? What if the most prominent figure in our society has Asperger’s syndrome and we are the only ones to bring this to light? What if this is our opportunity to actually educate the world about a diagnosis so prevalent, yet so unacknowledged… to help people understand how it truly presents itself? What if we had the power to start shifting the way we judge people and better the lives of those with AS (and those who love them)?

    Work with me on this guys… think about what I am saying.  I cannot imagine that an NT-e wife married to an adult Aspie man is not seeing familiar behavior patterns that don’t at least cause you to pause and consider it. If President Trump is an Aspie, then we have an incredible opportunity to begin educating society on something the mental health professionals dropped the ball on long ago.

    The door is open guys….

    PLEASE share your thoughts on this!!!!!


  • ASPERGER HUSBAND: WHY IS HE SO ANGRY?

    BECAUSE ANGER WORKS!

    OK, yeah… LET’S DO THIS!

     

    FIRST AND FOREMOST

    Is your Aspie husband angry?  My common sense dictates that if you clicked on this post, the answer is yes.  My common sense also tells me that this would be a “Yes!” answer for the majority of neurotypical women married to a man with Asperger’s syndrome (diagnosed or not).  While not every husband with Aspergers is angry to the point that it dominates every other emotion, there are many who are.  For these men, anger was a learned response toward those around them as a means to protect themselves against emotions they were unable to express or unable to comprehend (due to their cognitive empathy deficit).  Angry husbands are angry because somewhere along the lines (as children) they decided it was the one emotion that managed to effectively get them relief from frustration.  Their frustration stemmed from misunderstood emotions of their own and those they were close to, and these misunderstandings caused them internal pain.  When anger was identified as a potential relief from their pain, it solidified itself as the dominant “go-to” response to any emotion-evoking communication in their adult years.

    How this looks for an Aspie child:  A child is feeling hurt that their friend is not playing with them.  The friend keeps giving nonverbal reasons why they won’t play that the Aspie is not understanding. The Aspie child is unable to effectively express their hurt feelings and is growing frustrated with the friend, who continues to give ambiguous reasons (not clear direct ones).  When this Aspie child begins to feel overwhelmed with their frustration, they want their friend to go away from them for a little bit or at least stop talking.  They try to say this out loud and get a response filled with more ambiguous rationales from their friend that do not make sense to them.  Finally, the Aspie child becomes angry and says, “Get away from me!” with a loud and hostile voice and… the friend goes away from them.  The use of anger just became an effective way to manage emotions that feel overwhelming.

    Another example:  An Aspie child is feeling unloved because their sister is constantly getting praise about her good grades and talent playing the guitar.  The Aspie is feeling rejected that his parents don’t seem to notice the good things he is doing, or talents he has (like building a near-replica of a car he loves out of clay).  Despite his hard work, talent, and accomplishments, he hears his parents scold him for his poor grades and tell him to “Stop playing with his model clay and focus on school more.”  After a while, the inability to express why he is upset to his parents turns to resentment toward his sister and sadness that his parents aren’t giving him as much attention (as it would for any child).  The Aspie child then gets into an argument with his sister (as siblings do) and breaks one of the strings on his sister’s guitar while yelling that her “Guitar is stupid!”  The parents become aware of this hostile argument on behalf of the Aspie child and begin to shift attention and focus on him instead.  The Aspie child may not like being the focus of negative attention, but as children go, he is still finally getting what he wanted in the first place; his parent’s attention.  The parents begin to focus on their son and why he behaved in such an inappropriate way and (after scolding and punishing him) begin to pay more attention to him in an attempt to promote positive behaviors.  This Aspie child just learned that Anger can yield effective results… even if they initially bring about negative ones.

    Care for one more?

    An Aspie child is trying to repair his broken RC car and is frustrated because everything he has tried will not get it to start up again.  His mother comes out to help him (she knows nothing about RC cars) and keeps kindly asking what is wrong, how it broke, or what he needs to do to fix it.  His mom is attempting to deescalate his growing frustration and “help” him, but the Aspie child is not reading her vocal tones and facial expressions that say, “I’m sorry you are frustrated honey, I would like to help you if I can.”  All he is hearing is his mother asking him questions (that he obviously doesn’t know the answer to or the car would be fixed) and distracting him further from the task at hand.  The more his mom tries to offer her assistance, the more frustrated he becomes.  Unable to see her actions as thoughtful and kind ones, he gets so mad he throws the car at the wall and stomps off.  His mom yells at him for his behavior and takes his car away altogether as punishment.  After a few days, the mom feels a little bad her son’s favorite hobby has been taken away and brings him to the store to buy a new RC car to replace his broken one (or finds someone with the ability to fix his old one).  This Aspie child just learned that even if he acts out in anger, sometimes he gets positive results to the original source of emotional frustration.  The Aspie child just learned that his anger was effective in making his mom go away, as well as yielding something he wanted in the end, even if he had to endure a week-long punishment first.

    I could go on and on with examples of how these behaviors occur in a child’s social and emotional development, but you get the point.  If anger is not handled appropriately and better communication skills taught, some children grow into adults who use anger as a predominant means to resolve their emotional frustration before they consider any other option.  This happens for both NT and Aspie men alike, and these men grow into very angry and difficult adults that become very angry and difficult husbands.

    This post is meant to offer the cause, thought-process, and challenges associated with this level of dominant anger in a relationship.  The next post to follow will address how to manage an angry husband, how to begin teaching him to stop using anger as a means to get results, and how to begin building communication to prevent it from reoccurring in the future and damaging a marriage.

    If you are unsure if you live with an ANGRY ASPIE HUSBAND, put a mental checkmark beside the statements you have personally thought or said aloud:

    1. I am tired of walking on eggshells to avoid his hostile behavior
    2. He is so selfish about… (insert your own response): money, sex, time, housework, childcare, etc.
    3. He’s so negative, there is no way to get through to him that will make him change.
    4. I have been nothing but patient and he hasn’t gotten any better… in fact, he has gotten worse.
    5. I am so sick of being treated with disrespect.
    6. Every time I attempt to talk to him about a subject that has emotional content (of any kind) we get into a fight or he ignores me for days.
    7. Everything pisses him off, I can’t even exist in our own home without feeling uptight.
    8. He treats me bad and when I try to tell him it hurts me, he gets angry and nasty until I stop talking about his actions and have to internalize my pain.
    9. I know he has to be as miserable as I am or he wouldn’t seem so angry all the time; so why doesn’t he want to work on fixing it like I do?
    10. I don’t even think he loves me or wants to spend time with me anymore.
    11. When I cry he calls me horrible names or completely ignores my tears.
    12. All he does is blame me for his negative moods, why can’t he see that he causes his own negativity (and everyone else’s)?
    13. Maybe he was born mean and I just didn’t see it in the beginning?
    14. I keep searching online for why Asperger’s syndrome causes anger and nothing accounts for my husband’s hostility.
    15. The more I try to prevent his anger and fail, the angrier I become. I wasn’t an angry person before I met my husband and I am so tired of being angry all the time.
    16. Every attempt at fixing our marriage leads to more hostility from him, maybe I should just stop trying.
    17. He doesn’t seem to have any emotions other than apathy or anger.
    18. I don’t know what else to do but leave/divorce him.

    Once again, I can keep going all day with a million other examples or quotes I have said both aloud and to myself in regard to my husband’s chronic and escalating anger… but you get the point.  My husband is mad; he is mad at the interruptions in his routine, mad at the dog, mad at the way people attack him, mad at the poor internet connection in the house, mad at the person who drank the last bit of coffee creamer, mad at the things that prevent him from progressing as an adult, mad about his past, mad about his perception of the future, etc.  My husband is mad AT ME.  My husband is mad AT THE WORLD.  My husband doesn’t have a clue what he is even mad at… he just knows he is mad and he wants to make damn sure I know it too!

     

    BUT WHY IS HE SO MAD?

    My husband grew up thinking the world was out to prove he was a bad person.  Despite growing up with an amazingly loving and supportive family, the absence of cognitive empathy made it impossible for him to see all of the nonverbal messages of love that he was given day after day.  My husband only heard the literal words that were spoken to him and they never felt like love in his mind, they felt like chronic criticism.  Without cognitive empathy, my husband was unaware of the nonverbal messages he was personally sending to those he interacted with.  He could never see that he came across as angry or dismissive and therefore, was responded to with equal anger and dismissiveness.

    All of this confusion that gets generated into feelings of internal pain, created by the perception that those around him had unfairly labeled him a bad person.  All of this injustice made him respond outwardly with anger… and that anger protected him or yielded desired results.  Even if it was only effective 1 out of 10 times, it was more effective than any other emotion he learned to utilize in response to his social interactions, so it became the one that ruled.

    ANGER BECAME MY HUSBAND’S DEFAULT EMOTION

    Does my husband have the self-awareness to identify and openly admit to how mad he always seems to feel?  Nope.  Does my husband know he is taking his anger out on the women who are trying desperately to love him and prevent him from feeling so mad?  Nope.  Does my husband think he is behaving in a way that even indicates he is feeling angry?  Nope.  Does my husband realize that he has caused his wife and stepdaughter to feel angry in response to him? Nope.

    Does my husband’s anger serve as an outlet for ALL of the other emotions he experiences as an adult (sadness, guilt, fear, anxiety, jealousy, rejection, blame, etc.); the emotions he does not know how to identify or even begin to deal with?

    YES!

     

    HE’S BEGINNING TO OPEN HIS EYES

     

    My husband said something very powerful to me a few weeks ago that really got me thinking about how to tackle the topic of anger and how it is ruining marriages that could otherwise be successful.  It is difficult to express to an outsider what it is like to live with a constant threat of hostility from your husband, or to try to explain how his use of anger trumps every other human emotion neurotypicals experience in a given year, month, week, or even day.  Since I haven’t any doubt that “Asperger’s syndrome and Anger” is a subject matter that begs of answers from those in marriages like mine, I am going to take a crack at explaining what is happening beneath the surface for you.

    Less than a month ago, I was attempting to clean my messy closet for the hundredth time in weeks and despite struggling to have enough energy to tackle this cluttered disaster, I managed to find the drive to attempt it.  I had been throwing loads of clean clothes onto the floor for days, where a blanket served as the buffer to keep them “clean” enough to put them away when I finally got around to it.  I had been working long consecutive shifts at the hospital and daunting as it seemed, organizing my closet felt like an accomplishment that might make my mind feel less disordered, so I knew it was important for me to do this.

    Midway through the job (surrounded by clothes and stacks of random documents and books) I was caught off guard by my husband John (who sat on the bed near my closet) vocalizing a muddled remark about our daughter (his stepdaughter) before he abruptly walked out of the room.  I felt a twinge of angry poison spilling into my bloodstream and followed my husband out to the back porch to challenge the snarky comment he had just made.

    My husband had been impenetrably antagonistic with me for days over a topic that I wanted to resolve… so that our family could move forward as a functioning unit.  Every attempt I had made at bringing this topic up with John (in the previous week) had failed miserably and led to a backlash of venting rage (directed at me).  The topic was about positive parenting and how he and his stepdaughter had lost the ability to enjoy one another’s company.  I desperately wanted to see that change for the better, so I kept working at it.

    Despite John making a snide remark while I was attempting to clean, I opted to approach his clear desire to engage me on the issue once more, in the hopes I could spin it into a calm and meaningful chat.  I even had a split second thought that a solution or plan could come out of this new attempt.  As I sat down on the porch to engage my husband, I intended to share positive suggestions I had to help rebuild the damage that was inadvertently done (by him mostly), that severed the relationship they once had.  I did not assign blame to him alone (for obvious reasons) but that did not stop John’s knee-jerk response of bitter anger.  John perceived my thoughtful advice as an attack on his character and a list of reasons he was to blame for everything my daughter had ever done to misbehave or dodge accountability and household responsibility.  I do not believe my daughter is anything but a loving and kind soul who has gone out of her way (and beyond her expected level of maturity) to be patient and understanding with her stepfather, so despite agreeing that she has been complacent with personal responsibility lately (she is only 16-years old), I found his synopsis of her general behavior to be unwarranted and unnecessarily cold.

    I am not bullshitting when I say that I have an extraordinarily mature and compassionate daughter (“B”) whose empathy and grace astounds me daily.  The more aggressively John came at me, suggesting his stepdaughter was an irresponsible spoiled brat, the more aggressively I defended her.  Since John fails to see the phenomenal woman she is becoming, I feel resentful toward him each and every time he criticizes her without ever acknowledging her remarkable character and strength.  All of my efforts to help them rebuild a positive relationship have always focused around convincing John to give her acknowledgement first, so that she will feel motivated to respond to him with love when he points out a flaw or poor behavior she has.  John staunchly refuses to do this, so each time he responds to me with such a defiant stance of refusal to show B love, I lose the ability to entertain anything else he has to say about her.  Actually, the more he does this, the more I want to jump across the room and jab my fingers into his eyeballs… but that is just an internal thought I do not openly share.

     Moms can be psychotically protective of their children, and I am no exception.

    I could sense my own “mom-rage” escalating, so I quietly returned to my messy closet to distract myself from the failed communication attempt we just had.  I was unable to disengage from the resentment I felt toward my husband for his words and I was heartbroken that my efforts, meant to bring closeness and love between my daughter and husband, were dissected and deemed irrelevant by him instead.  I sat in the middle of my closet and felt the tears welling up in my eyes and a knot in my throat.  I could literally feel the acid in my stomach climbing its way upward toward my esophagus to remind me how physically impaired I am becoming these days in addition to my diminished mental capacity (from being overworked and sleep deprived mostly).  It is hard to describe the feeling of energy draining from your body, but I felt mine was literally leaking out of me.  It felt like my core was hollowed out rather quickly and my entire body felt useless.  My butt was planted on the cold tile of my closet floor as I attempted to continue weeding through months of documents (bills, work stuff, personal writings, etc.) hoping to bring a small bit of tangible order to the chaos of my life.  With my chest burning (from a likely ulcer I have yet to do anything about) and an overwhelming sense of impending doom, I fell to my knees and clutched my head in my hands as I dug my elbows into the cold, hard surface beneath them.

    I was tired, my body was tired, my brain was tired, and all I could think about was how much John breaks my heart when he comes at me (or my daughter) with an anger that only he seems to possess.  I began to quietly sob (I did not want John to hear me).

    To my surprise, John appeared behind me and hovered behind my body for some time… silent.  He stood there for several minutes and finally asked me what “was wrong?”  He asked me to get off the floor, and eventually… he asked me to stop “being ridiculous.”  I did not have the desire or energy to even respond to him, so I remained lost in my own sadness and did not move.  I did not move for well-over ten minutes, but John remained upright behind me in the closet doorway.  He continued to ask me to get up every minute or so with no response from me.  He continued to ask me what was wrong, with no reply on my part.  In a soft and gentle tone of voice, my husband began to speak with words that mattered.  He said, “Kara, I don’t know what to say.  I don’t know what you want me to say.  I know that you know what I should say… but I don’t. I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing and making it worse.”

    I remained in the same position (not purposely, I just truly felt too weak to get up) and did not respond.  My husband then stepped into the closet and closed the door behind him, shutting out the light from the bedroom so we were enclosed in a tiny space together, in total darkness.  He remained silent for a few minutes, as did I.  Then John did something I would have never imagined him to do; he sat down on the cold floor behind me and scooped up my fragile statue-like self and pulled me in close to him.  He held me tight in his arms and put his head on my back.  He told me that he didn’t want to see me hurting and that he just didn’t know what to say.

    For what felt like an eternity, John held me close and tried (with all his ability) to communicate with me.  I remained silent with only pathetic sniffles to offer in response to his effort.  A year ago, my audible sound of crying (meek as it was), would have sent John into a terribly cruel flurry of words suggesting I was a “dramatic mess” who needed mental health counseling.  John did not do this.  He just sat on the floor of my closet with his arms wrapped snuggly around me.

     

    BUT WE HAVE COME SO FAR… 

    John and I have come a million miles from where we stood less than a year ago, but we still have a ton of “unresolved” issues that continue to rear their ugly faces; they come without any warning of their impending visit and always ruin a day that could have been wonderful.  Actually, the only residual glitches that still threaten to destroy our otherwise happy marriage belong to John’s surface personalities, Mr. Mean, Mr. Rage, Mr. Defiance, Mr. Antagonistic, and Mr. ANGER.  No matter what I try to do to protect my husband’s wonderful personality from being temporarily morphed into one of these bastards, they always manage to arrive with more power and attitude than the time before.  Despite John holding me close and behaving in a way I was NOT used to, (it stunned me into silence… I am not even kidding), I still found myself bracing for the arrival of one of those body-snatching jackasses to begin talking on my husband’s behalf.

    John’s evil exterior personalities never showed up that night.  Instead, John began to talk about what was wrong, without me requesting anything from him.  He told me he knows “exactly what is wrong with our relationship.”  Despite his next words being an understatement of the obvious and something I had easily identified around the six-month mark of our union, John spoke with an odd sense of pride that he had stumbled on something valuable.  He said, “We don’t know how to communicate with one another” and “I am the one who fails at this the most.”

    It never occurred to me that John had never shared his thoughts on why we struggled for so long until that night.  Maybe he did not grasp what I meant when I kept throwing similar statements out there for half a decade… maybe it finally made sense to him?

    John continued to talk openly (often with excessively long pauses in between words or thoughts).  He reflected on how hard he had been trying lately by saying, “I know I do not have a job right now, but I have been trying SO hard to make our home “my job” and to work really hard at making it nice, the way you always asked me to, so that I can show you that I care.”  I let him talk.  He continued on to say, “I know it is not the same as the responsibilities you have to make money for our family, but it is all I can do right now on this island.  I have been trying to show you that I can put my effort into compensating for what I cannot do… until I can begin working when we get back to the states.”

    Where John’s words would have felt like an excuse in the past, they were not this time around because he truly had been working his ass off to change the previous lazy behavior he displayed when it came to basic adult responsibilities.  John had been in Michigan doggedly working all summer (from refinishing a basement to working in heating and cooling with his father) and he brought home more money from those three months of true effort than he had contributed in our 5.5-year long relationship.  When he returned to the island we live on, he continued his efforts and began to finally do all that I had asked of him for so many years.  I used to beg him to just try to match some of his efforts working in the home to the effort I put forth working outside the home, but he never would.  John has really made me feel both acknowledged and valued with his physical labors lately (and when he was working this summer).  Because I did not want him to ever think his efforts went without notice, I broke my frozen silence and said, “I know you have and I am so appreciative of everything you have been doing lately.”

    To this, John seemed to soften a bit more and push the conversation a little further than he had ever before.  He began talking about our daughter again; I felt like the party-crashers were on the way in, so I quickly asked him if he could stop talking about that subject right now because it would only fuel anger that I find too difficult to dial back.  I told him that discussing B got us “nowhere fast” in the end anyway.  He replied by telling me that he was not “angry” he was “hurt.”  Without intending to sound like a bitch, I softly (but firmly) fired back, “Maybe it is hurt you feel inside, but all I see is anger.  You are always SO ANGRY about everything John.  You are so angry I feel like I cannot get past that emotion enough to ever address the real ones you are feeling.”

    My husband then validated something I had long-believed to be the real reason behind his constant state of hostility.  He said, “I don’t know what to say, ever, so I say nothing.  I feel so many things inside, but I don’t know how to explain them to you, so I get angry.  It is so much easier for me to be angry all the time than try to explain the other things I am feeling.  I don’t know how to talk about those things Kara.”

    What an INCREDIBLE thing to hear my husband finally articulate to me in words, as he held me in his arms on the floor of my dark closet.  I paused for a few minutes to make sure John was finished talking and then gently asked him, “Why?”  John continued to try to explain his anger by telling me that when he was young, he didn’t understand why people were always accusing him of things or telling him he was wrong (mind you, John has NEVER read any of the posts in this blog that talk about my thoughts on his childhood).  He said that because of his inability to understand the emotions other people directed at him, he became angry in response because it was just, “So much easier.”

    I found myself crying again (quietly) as he spoke these words to me and mumbled, “You can’t like feeling angry all the time John, it has to hurt.”  John replied, “Yeah, I guess it does.”  I figured this was my best shot at getting “buy-in” from him to begin changing his anger, so I asked, “Don’t you want to stop feeling angry all of the time?”  John told me that he did desire the ability to replace his anger with appropriate emotions, but due to his difficulties sharing them, or even making sense of them in his own mind, he often preferred to take the “easy road” and default to anger because it was an instant defense to shut people out and ignore the real emotions he had.

    Getting angry gave my husband the smoke and mirrors he needed to get the hell outta dodge…

    before anyone noticed how “screwed up” his mind was.

    John held me in his arms for over 30-minutes that night as we spoke in a near-whisper, with his face pressed up against the back of my head; on a closet floor; in pitch blackness.  Weird but… maybe this is just the kind of thing Aspie-NT couples have to do to engage one another in a conversation that does not involve anger?  Maybe they need to be boxed into a confined space in the darkness where yelling or running seem like less viable options?

    Eventually, I was able to peel myself off the floor and take medicine (that John brought me) to soothe my burning gut.  By the time we stood up to attempt normal human functioning, we both felt calm and closer to one another.  We both felt heard, we both felt loved, and we both agreed to work harder at communicating better.

    Our daughter B had been watching movies with her boyfriend “A” during the entire exchange John and I were having outside of their awareness.  It was getting late and A had to be driven home (school night) so I began to tell them it was getting close to “go” time.

     

                    B’s boyfriend lives across the island and because of the limited availability of reliable used vehicles here, and the challenge in getting a teenager a driver’s license for the first time (if their parents do not hold a license for the island), neither he nor B have the potential of driving themselves to and from social engagements with one another.  Unfortunately, a simple trip to one another’s home takes a solid 90-minutes out of the parents day/evening to accomplish.  John bitches about this often, but it is usually something I feel worthy of committing my time to because A is just as freakishly kind and compassionate as B is; as teenagers, the typical fear a parent would have of allowing them social engagements (outside of school) does not apply to these two.  John often starts arguments with me about our daughter’s “teenage crush” and attempts to squash her “fantasy” of marrying A someday.  While I would have agreed with this fantasy-future under most circumstances of teenage love, I have surprisingly viewed my daughter’s first boyfriend as an actual possibility for her future. 

                    I truly appreciate the relationship B has found at such an early age and often pray that she and A will defy the odds of building their high school love into a life together.  They are both more comparable to old souls who would rather concoct a plan to save the planet then engage in a make-out session.  They just seem to be meant for one another in a way few mothers would be willing to consider and A’s mom has shared the same sentiments with me.  In fact, just the other night she and I were messaging one another and she commented that she used to wish B was a “little asshole” so she could find fault in her that deemed her unworthy of her son’s love.  Ultimately, she said she just couldn’t find a single reason to feel anything but love for the incredible child I have been blessed with and that she too, embarrassingly hopes they end up together because she cannot fathom her son would ever again find a girl so perfectly matched to his empathetic and delicate heart.  Our children both had father’s with suspected bipolar disorder and while B’s dad killed himself, A’s dad theoretically did the same with substance abuse; they were both abandoned by their biological fathers for life.  Despite raising two emotionally fragile and deeply caring children, the path of sadness and loneliness we thought they were destined to travel, seemed to veer off into happiness and passion for life when they met one another.  It helps that they are both unapologetically honest with their mother’s (almost to a fault); there are some things a kid just doesn’t tell their parent and these two don’t seem to grasp that concept. 

                     John gets angry when I talk about how much I like A or how much I think they are different from typical teenagers.  He seems to want to prove this theory wrong or convince me that B is not the honest and responsible teenager I know she is (I tried to consider myself naïve and doubt her maturity… but she has proven me wrong to date and now warrants my continued faith in her).  John and I have had many arguments over my willingness to support our daughter’s ability to see her boyfriend outside of school and calls me “stupid” a lot for trusting her to make good decisions in regard to sex and safety.  I have tried to tell John if he took the time to talk to A, he would realize what a phenomenal young man he is and that he may even enjoy being a mentor to him, since A has a passion for cars much the same way John does.  With cars being one of John’s special interests, I know that A would be delighted to learn from him and fascinated by the amount of knowledge he has to share.  I also know that it would bring my husband an incredible feeling of pride to be able to teach a young man like A everything he knows, both because he loves when he can share his interests with others, and because we will never have a son of our own that he can share the typical “father-son” activities with that I know A would be thrilled to have (A does have a wonderful stepfather who raised him and shares these things with him).  Whenever I bring up the suggestion that, “You should talk to A” with John, he immediately shoots it down and tells me he “doesn’t like him.”  I accept that John is applying logic to the whole teenage-relationship dynamic, so I usually stop the urging immediately after he dismisses it. 

                     It has long-since occurred to me that if John and A could spend a little time together working on cars, talking about them, or watching car-focused shows; it might enable a closer relationship with John and his own daughter.  Since B is smitten by A, if John would willingly accept his presence in our household (even if he believes he will be a distant memory after we move), the four of us might be able to go out together for a day of fun activities.  As it stands, the three of us cannot make it through a single outing without John saying something offensive to B that I end up admonishing him for (the very second I recognize her nonverbal expressions of sadness or anger).  I believe John instigates this common dynamic because he feels alienated by the bond B and I have with one another and the way we are constantly communicating with nonverbal messages he does not hear.  I haven’t any doubt that the words we DO end up saying out loud get lost in translation without the words we are not vocalizing, and this leads to chronic misinterpretations from where John stands, causing him to make snarky comments in our direction.  This happens without fail every single time we try to go out with one another as a family, so we rarely attempt it these days.  Because of my desperate desire to still be able to leave our damn house as a family, I believe that adding A to the mix could enable this to peacefully occur.  If there was one more person to offset John feeling like the third wheel in our outings, he would undoubtedly behave in a less threatened manner (experience has proven this to be true).  To be able to have fun outings together without the incessant intrusion of hostility, B would get more time to see the wonderful side of her stepfather that has been invisible to her in the last two years. 

    Of course, all of this was only wishful thinking for me…

    until the night I became a paralyzed disaster on my closet floor….

    As I was getting dressed to take A home, John volunteered to do it himself, something I found very thoughtful since I did have to wake up at 4 a.m. and it was already almost 9 p.m.  I graciously accepted his offer and spent the remaining two hours alone in my house with a sense of peaceful calm.  My husband had openly communicated with me and physically showed me he was willing to drop himself onto the cold ground in darkness, if that was what he needed to do to show me I was not alone anymore.  There were few words that could express how much this meant to me.

    B would later reflect on this car ride and tell me that John had engaged her boyfriend A for the first time that night and the two of them spent the entire drive across island talking about their love of cars.  She shared how John even expressed to her that he liked A very much and was “impressed” with his knowledge.  I could tell by the light in my daughter’s eyes that John’s willingness to connect with someone she found important, made her feel equally valued by her stepfather for the first time in a long time.  B also said that the remainder of the car ride back to our house was filled with John being silly, kind, and compassionate toward her and she felt like he “actually liked” being around her.  I did not know this experience ever transpired after the “closet-incident” until last week, when B was crying about John’s insensitivities once again (how she felt deflated by his anger) after he had just given her so much hope things were improving between them.

    UH OH…. Our daughter is beginning to respond to John’s anger with the same level of personal devastation that her mother has felt….

     SHIT… SOMETHING’S GOTTA CHANGE, AND IT’S GOTTA CHANGE FAST!

     

    WHAT HAPPENED?

    Despite John stepping outside his comfort zone that night, enough to perfectly respond to my pain, and despite John abandoning his opinions on B and her boyfriend long enough to give my suggestion a chance (making B feel loved) …. John’s anger still proved to be insurmountable within a few days of that amazing night.  It was only two days later that he and I were right back at square one, as he aggressively vented about B’s behavior to me and then viciously yelled at me when I attempted to offer suggestions to bridge their communication gap once more.  It was within a week that John’s anger boiled over to the point of verbally screaming at B and calling her “AN ASSHOLE” while I was at work (something that took all of my willpower to not physically attack him for).  It was inconceivable that despite all of the incredibly difficult effort he put into finding the words to express his feelings and love that night on the closet floor… he had once again been absorbed by his incessant need to act out in anger.

    WHY??????

    While there are “specific” causes that my husband would point out for what fueled his “justified” anger once again, I realized that I was doing something terribly wrong this entire time in the way I responded to it.  My husband disclosed to me that he used his anger to gain control over his confusing emotions and to take control back from me when I expressed emotions he had difficulty processing.  Why didn’t I break down the simplicity of this a long time ago?

    IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT CONTROL!

     

    CONTROL

    Most NT-e women are bright enough to realize that inappropriate expressions of emotions have an underlying purpose… to gain control over one’s own feelings.  We know this.  This makes perfect sense.  Despite being cognitively aware of the root cause, we continue to allow our Aspie husband’s to control our emotions and feelings.  We give our husband’s the very thing they are seeking to obtain when they aggressively come at us with anger.

    We give them power and we give them control.

    We continuously validate their actions as being effective ones and we enhance their use of them to acquire greater power over us in the future.

     

    IN THE BEGINNING

    When we first met and subsequently fell in love with our Aspie husbands, they treated us well.  They may not have had the skills of a neurotypical man to identify our nonverbal messages and desires (and be able to appropriately respond to them), but they were generally loving and kind men who made us feel valued.  Even if there always lacked the intense emotional connection and deep understanding of one another’s feelings that NT-NT relationships experience, there was an emotional connection in our Aspie-NT union, and it was just as real and warm as we thought it was at the time.

    So what happened then, if our husbands were once able to show us attention, respect, interest, attraction, love, and kindness?  What happened to that gentle, intelligent man we fell in love with?  What happened to the man we were utterly convinced lacked the capacity to ever cause us emotional pain or inflict malicious displays of anger toward us?

    SERIOUSLY… WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THOSE MEN?!?!?

    They got us; that’s what happened. They secured our love and commitment, and they no longer felt the threat of losing us.  This absent “fear of loss” enabled a complacency in the effort it took for them to gain our affection in the first place.

    Is it that simple?

    If it is… then doesn’t that make them assholes?

    No… not at all.

    This same change in behavior occurs with many NT husbands who go from seemingly perfect to shockingly selfish, withdrawn, and angry men… somewhere in the midst of the relationship arriving at a monotonous daily existence.  This happens for the same reasons with both NT and Aspie husbands.  The difference is, Aspie men are far more internally focused and oblivious to the wants and needs of their partner than the NT men are.  Aspie men did not begin with exceptional communication skills, nor did they ever have the cognitive empathy to identify the nonverbal messages they were receiving or putting out to the women they loved.  Aspie men were always missing the majority of information that NT men were capable of receiving, so this caused their dramatic shift to appear a billion times more severe and intolerably cruel than that of the equally angry NT man.

     

    IT ALL STEMMED FROM SECURING OUR LOVE?

    Most men are inherently similar in the sense that the majority of them have fragile egos (call it nature or nurture, this is an unarguable fact that no amount of research will ever disprove).  Men hate the concept of being rejected by someone they desire; they hate this thought far more than they hate the concept of living in an unhappy relationship.  Of the men who possess this instinctive drive to protect their ego, there are men who are exceptional communicators.  These men tend to form healthy and happy relationships and their ego is suppressed in favor of mutual respect and appreciation.  Then there are the men who are so incredibly inept when it comes to social skills (think of the “nerd” stereotype given when someone first hears the term Asperger’s syndrome), that they rarely make it past the second date with a woman to form a long-term relationship (although sometimes they are lucky and find a woman equally challenged in social function to co-exist with).

    Finally, there are the Aspie husbands like my husband John, and all of your husbands.

    These men fall somewhere in between the other two, but almost in a parallel universe despite having the common bond of a fragile male ego.  Men like our husbands have learned enough social etiquette (be it from family, friends, casual observations, failed attempts at forming relationships, watching movies, reading books, etc.); they have learned enough to effectively start relationships that appear emotionally healthy and positive in the beginning.  These men put all of their efforts and energy into the early days of “securing” the woman they want to be with, and it is just enough for the women to miss the cues that something will be terribly lacking a few short steps down the road.

    For men like this (most of our Aspie husbands) … the duration of their relationship will be entirely dependent on the tolerance and endurance the NT woman is able to manifest along the way.  By the time the relationship evolves to legally joining as husband and wife, the NT spouse knows damned-well her husband once had the capacity to communicate in a non-hostile way, and she knows he is more than capable of interacting with her without utilizing anger in response to every communication attempt she makes… she knows this because she has seen him do it!!

    What she does not realize, is that her husband (and those like him) are thoroughly exhausted from their previous efforts to secure the relationship; it was the greatest social challenge they ever took on in their entire life.  Once these men no longer feel threatened that they will lose their wife, they succumb to the level of effort they really “want” to put forth in their social exchanges.  They might still respond to the fear of losing their wife intermittently, when they feel threatened by another man for instance (that ego is still there).  In rare instances like this, their efforts may be combated the way they initially tried to secure their wife.  Considering these men miss most nonverbal messages that even indicate a potential threat on the horizon, and they certainly do not have a clue they are in danger of losing their wife by their own poor behaviors, they do not respond to them with any degree of urgency to step up and protect their prize.  Aspie men are a million times less likely to ever identify that their negative behavior is a looming threat to the relationship because they lack the cognitive empathy to identify the nonverbal messages their wife is sending them to sound the alarm bells of potential calamity.

    The entire time the Aspie husband begins to slowly withdraw his exhaustive effort to “secure” his wife, the NT wife is enacting the worst possible means of responding to his withdrawal.  The NT wife will try to push more love, more effort in communicating, more verbalized feelings of disconnect, more displays of patience and understanding, and way more submissive behaviors… all in an attempt to nonverbally scream to her husband that their relationship is in danger.  All the NT wife wants is to have her husband GO BACK to the man she fell in love with.

     

    CHANGE BACK TO THE WAY YOU WERE… PLEASE CHANGE BACK!

    NT wives want their husband to return to the gentle, calm, kind man he once was; the man who put effort into treating her like a valued and cherished prize he was lucky enough to win.

    Aspie husbands are not going to do this on their own!

    Once they feel they have secured the relationship, they will exert only the bare minimum amount of effort needed (in their mind) to maintain it.  This is not because they do not love you, it is because the sheer magnitude of debilitating energy it took to obtain your commitment (in the first place) surpassed all of the combined energy they ever exerted in their lifetime toward any interpersonal relationship (about 100X more).

    Ultimately, the real reason Aspie husbands show lessening efforts as the years dredge on is because…

    YOU LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT!!!

    Your Aspie husband’s declination in expending emotional and physical energy to show his love for you is inadvertently your fault because you allowed him to do this.  As he began withdrawing effort (because the threat of losing you was gone), he was NOT met by a wife who refused to tolerate his unwanted behavior.  Instead, he was met with a bewildered woman who did not understand what the hell happened and went out of her way to stick it out as she tried to uncover the reason.  As the NT wife searched for answers for her husband’s changing behavior, the husband realized (consciously or not) that he could sustain the marriage without having to exert any more effort than he was currently offering.

    Why would he exhaust himself proving a love that he no longer had to prove (in his mind)?

     

    WHY MESS WITH A SYSTEM THAT WORKS?

    How many times have you watched men fix up a broken piece of machinery, from an old car to a junkie lawnmower, and insist that they will not purchase a new one because the old one “STILL WORKS”?

    When bad behavior or minimal effort is “working” to keep their wife in the marriage…

    there is no reason for an Aspie husband to mess with their “functioning” system by adopting new behaviors.

    Eventually, I am going to take the lawnmower example to the extreme to show you how Angry-Aspie husbands will continue using something that works (anger) at the risk of time, energy, frustration, money, or quality… if they believe it still works for them.  I am going to show you how it does not matter if their lawnmower (anger) only yields results 10% of the time they use it… they will continue to use it and ignore any other lawnmower (positive emotion) that could replace the broken one based on their 10% success rate.

     

    THE ASPIE LAW OF CHANGE

    Let’s say an Aspie husband has an old junkie lawnmower that he has had (and fixed up) for many years which drives his wife insane.  Even if this man knew he could easily purchase a brand new, state of the art lawnmower that took fractions of the energy to mow the lawn that his old one did… he is not going to abandon it until it is completely broken and unquestionably useless.  Even if this lawnmower loudly screams down the yard while emitting noxious fumes to the entire neighborhood, the Aspie husband is going to keep on using this beast until it catastrophically fails for the last time and he has absolutely NO OTHER CHOICE but to find a new one.

     Remember, like this lawnmower, your Aspie husband’s anger has nothing to do with the overall functionality of success it yields (and this is the most bizarre part), he will willingly accept the ONE time that his angry behavior accomplishes its intended purpose over the THIRTY times it does not.

     To your Aspie husband, that ONE time his anger yields the desired result he was seeking,

    is enough validation that his behavior WORKS;

    and when something works, it is worth repeating.

     

          TRACKING?

     

     

    If not, let me try to clarify:  If your husband has to deal with 49 intense, aggressive, and emotionally debilitating arguments with you before you willingly concede to his side being the RIGHT ONE… he will do it.  If your husband tries to use anger as a means to thwart or stop an emotionally-charged conversation with you, and 1 time out of 50 times you break down and cry or run away instead of fighting back or pushing the subject matter… he will continue to do it.  He will always willingly endure the 49-shit storms that do not end with him being proven right or you abandoning a topic he does not want to discuss, for that ONE TIME he gets you to back down and allow his angry behavior to dominate your better judgement.  Even if it is wreaking physical and emotional damage on him personally to go through those 49 other fights, it will not matter.  The effort and collateral damage is worth it to him because the idea of changing his behavior is FAR MORE daunting than going with the one he is acclimated to using as a default to get his way, avoid confrontation, or prove a point.

    You can spin yourself in circles and try every single possible means of altering your husband’s angry behavior, but you will fail overall if you allow him to get away with it…

    even if it is only 1 out of every 50 times.

    Maybe you disagree with this concept.  Perhaps you have been imploring the new knowledge you have about cognitive empathy and you are finding your marriage slowly (but steadily) improving.  Maybe you once had a 95% failure rate in meaningful communication and now you only have a 15% failure rate.  While that would be amazing (and I am super stoked for you) … if that 15% failure rate is because of your husband’s anger… you are nowhere closer to success than you were when communication failed 95% of the time!

    I am not talking about abolishing angry feelings in general, you are both human and you are both going to get angry from time to time.  Being angry on occasion is perfectly acceptable.  Vocalizing anger can also be accepted and/or forgiven by both parties in the future (and should be), because anger is a natural human emotion.  What I am talking about is your husband’s use of anger to achieve, avoid, or justify something in the marriage.  I am talking about a husband who responds with anger over any other emotion, even if he can later identify the true feelings he had and apologize for his initial response of hostility.

    I am talking about a husband who uses anger as a means of obtaining power and control.

     

    If you allow your husband to do this… ever…

     from this day forward…

    you will not make a single step of progress in your marriage.

     

    Sorry to burst the bubble of happiness you had going for you after years of sadness, but this is important.  I know it feels like progress now that you have a better understanding of “why” he acts the way he does, and it is a step in the right direction, but it is not actual “progress” until he changes the behavior that is the most toxic to your marriage.  If your husband has learned to use anger as a dominant means to respond to conflict, your husband is always going to default to this instinctive behavior, even if he has grown enough to begin reflecting on a fight and apologizing after the fact.

    You may be thrilled he can now acknowledge and apologize after he has handled a situation poorly with his anger, but again, this is not “progress” toward a happy marriage.  It is not progress because each time he defaults to hostility, you will feel the same level of disrespect, devastation, and pain that you felt when he never returned later to apologize.  If you continue to feel that your husband does not value, love, or respect you… even if it is once in a blue moon… it is still ONE TOO MANY TIMES and has no place in a marriage.

    Think about it like this…   If an abusive husband beats his wife daily and then attends counseling (which motivates the wife to give the marriage a second chance), would it be acceptable if he only beat her once a year, perhaps on New Year’s Eve?

     

    FUCK NO IT WOULDN’T BE!!!!

     

     

    Why wouldn’t it be?  Because that behavior is destructive to ever having a mutually beneficial marriage based off of love and respect.  It is not acceptable, in any regard, even “once in a blue moon.”  The wife who convinces herself that it is alright to take an “annual beating” because she is so thankful she no longer has to endure them daily… she needs to wake up.  The wife that convinces herself he will get better because he has come “so far” in his efforts… she is going to be sorry.  If a physically abusive man claims he has changed his ways and defaults to physical violence ever again, the woman in his life can count on the fact that at some point… the stress in his life will bring the daily beatings back.  They will return, and they may return at a more lethal level, because he has not learned that this violent response is NEVER acceptable and never going to yield him the result he was seeking when he unleashed its fury. Accepting a return to violence even once is equivalent to accepting it 100% of the time because it reinforces the knowledge that when all else fails… THAT WILL WORK.

     

    If your Aspie husband believes that anger can effectively get the results he wants: to prove he is right, his opinion is correct, his actions, or method of doing something is just…  he will continue to default to it every time…

     UNTIL IT NO LONGER PRODUCES ONE SINGLE DESIRED RESULT!

    HOW COULD THEY NOT GRASP THIS?

    Aspie men have endured a lifetime of being told they are wrong, their thoughts are incorrect, and their behaviors or emotional responses are abnormal or inappropriate.  They grow up in a world that does not know they lack cognitive empathy and therefore, they grow up in a world that treats them like an alien from another planet when they openly express their perception of reality (which may vary greatly from the majority).  Aspie men have been groomed by a society of “naysayers” and social injustices that had them fighting “their” take on reality every step of the way.

    Some boys and men with Asperger’s syndrome submit to the masses and isolate themselves from social interactions altogether….

    These are NOT the Aspie husbands we are married to!

    We are married to the special group of Aspie men who have such an internal belief in who they are as a person (that they are a good man without mal-intent or insane perspectives), so instead of withdrawing from life, these men became FIGHTERS!  These men are amazing.  They are strong-willed and they can move mountains with their innate resilience and brilliance, especially if they join forces with an equally strong-willed NT-e.

    These men are fighters unlike most men in society, and they do so with pure and selfless intentions… they do so because they strongly believe in the knowledge they have and the inner battle to triumph over injustice and/or ignorance.  These men have a fighting spirit that comes from deep within their soul… and they will stop AT NOTHING and on NO ONE’S ACCOUNT to prove their worth in a world that has devalued them their entire lives.

    THAT IS THE ASPIE MAN YOU ARE MARRIED TO!

    Your husband’s strength of character is a gift and something to be marveled at.  It takes an unbelievably magnificent human to defy all the world’s hurtful and negative energy and absorb it enough to transform it into an energy that gives them the will to keep fighting.

    Think about that (from outside the box) for a moment.

    Your husband is a fighter (as are you) and for that… you should be in awe.  Unfortunately, these are the men that will fight 9,999 battles to win 1.  These are the men that possess the stamina to argue their point to the death and beat their opponent into submission if they believe in their core, that their truth is the only one that is correct.

    These are not men who ever set out to inflict harm, pain, sadness, injury, or misery to anyone else.  They are not even aware that their unwavering believes cause those resulting feelings for anyone else (particularly their NT wife).  They don’t have the cognitive empathy to recognize that their own actions are causing their wife to suffer, unless she manages to tell him this with direct, logical words.  Even then… if the logic for hurt feelings she expresses is being pinned on something they did not intend to do (and fail to believe they are responsible for), they will dismiss it with the same passion they do everything else.  They will fight you.

     With the same breath I took to tell you that your husband’s strength of character is a gift,

    a real marvel…

    it is also his Achilles Heel.

    Your husband is willing to suffer unimaginable amounts of misery and withstand countless negative consequences to stand his ground and get his one belief across to you until you accept it as correct.  Your husband will unknowingly ignore all of the unnecessary risks and negative outcomes possible in order to prove the validity of that one thing he stands behind.

     

    HOW THIS LOOKED IN MY MARRIAGE

    In my marriage, the internet search for “Relationship Advice” is a perfect example of my husband’s unrelenting fight to the death.  My husband independently went online to learn about Asperger’s syndrome after receiving his diagnosis and came across articles that suggested he was an “inherently evil man from birth” and “could never be a good husband or love me”.  He read a few (too many) hate-filled blogs filled with rhetoric that begged and pleaded with NT women to get the hell away from the toxic sociopaths that ARE Aspies.  My husband read these things and he was DONE.

    He made up his mind that there would NEVER come a day he would EVER AGAIN CONSIDER READING A SINGLE THING ONLINE ABOUT ASPERGER’S SYNDROME!

    I spent years begging him to read articles I found beneficial.  I emailed them to him, printed them out for him, attempted to read them to him… he refused.  I could have listed 100,000 happily married Aspie-NT couples who read just ONE short article with the secret to changing their marriage into a successful one; that promised to do this overnight without effort, and my husband would have STILL REFUSED TO READ IT.  When I brought up the subject, I was met with nasty aggressiveness to make me stop trying to force something on him he had zero intention of doing.  When I came at him with gentle, soft, kind words about it, he responded with anger.  When I demanded he do it to prove he loved me, his anger boiled over to the point of verbal abuse.

    The only time my husband ever responded the way I wanted was when I threatened to leave him if he did not “educate” himself (by way of the internet).  Despite pacifying me with promises that he would read (when he thought his resistance might actually threaten our relationship), he still never did.

    His actions were out of the inner belief that he was a good man, I was a good woman, and no one else on the planet had the potential to define our relationship other than the two of us.  That was the reason John refused to ever listen to my pleas for him to read a single thing on the computer over the 4+ years I begged him to.  My husband did not intend to hurt me with his refusal (quite the opposite, he thought it was going to protect our relationship).  John did not believe this was a good idea and he held strong to it… against any possible consequence his refusal to do so might bring upon him.

    That’s the thing about our Aspie husbands. 

    They have a damned-good reason behind the majority of their hostile and defiant behaviors.

    When they use anger to get their point across,

    they render us incapable of ever comprehending their reason.

    Our husbands are good men and our husbands do not secretly conspire to bring emotional suffering unto us.  Every seemingly cruel behavior that comes at us as angry words or actions… they are based off of an internal belief that they are going to be beneficial to us.  Our husbands do not have malicious or entirely self-serving purpose behind the mass majority of the arguments they engage us in.

     

    STOP THREATENING, START DOING

    I literally threatened our entire marriage if my husband did not take the time to research online information about his diagnosis and the impact it had on our relationship.  I spent countless hours looking for ways around his refusal and ridiculous amounts of time searching for an opportunity to sway his defiance into one of open consideration.  My husband held strong to his belief and there was nothing that could convince him otherwise… unless… I actually did end our relationship because he would not consider my wishes.

    Every time I threatened my husband or promised a negative consequence for his anger and/or refusal to change negative behaviors… I remained by his side.  By not following through with my words or actions, my husband lost respect for me.  The more I swore I would respond to his anger (and failed to do so), the worse his anger grew and the more he treated my words as the empty threats of a weak woman.  By warning my husband that his behavior was not going to be tolerated “one more time,” I gave him permission to do it one more time. The only way I ever would have maintained the respect my husband initially had for me, would have been if I walked out on him or kicked him out the very first time he came at me with hostile anger.  Could I have given him a second chance at that point?  Sure.  This may have prevented him for doing it again and solved the problem right away; I will never know.

    I like to tell myself that this would not have worked (because it makes me feel better).  I tell myself that I was not dealing with a man who knew how to handle confrontation of any kind without aggressive anger, so I had to get to this place in order to understand how to prevent it from occurring again.  Regardless of what I tell myself now, I should have followed through on my words the first time if I wanted to be respected by him and feel respect for myself.

    I have no doubt that you have also gone against your word and remained by your husband’s side despite swearing his most recent angry outburst would be the last.  I have good news… you can still regain respect for yourself and have your husband respect you by choosing to be a consistent woman today and to never again make a threat or promise you do not intend to keep.  How do you do this?  You learn how to stop your husband in his tracks so that anger is no longer accepted by you… not even one more time.

    Does that mean you have to leave him the next time he defies you?  No.

    In retrospect, I know that if I had actually divorced John because of his defiance to stop using anger as a means to communicate, I would have given him NO CHOICE but to submit to my demand.  If his defiance NO LONGER WORKED and threatened the very thing he wanted to avoid, he would have had to either chose a future without me, or change his behavior.  My husband has always loved me.  My husband has always wanted to make our relationship work.  Because I know this, I believe that if I had left him and told him the only way I would take him back, would be if he read 100 articles and then talked to me about them, in depth (so I knew for certain he read them), he would have done it.  I believe he still would have pushed my threats as far as he could go, and he would have required my follow-through to “end everything” before he did it… but in my heart I think he would have ultimately done it.

    It would have required my husband having ZERO alternative to changing his behavior for him to finally relinquish it in favor of saving the relationship he really wanted.

    It would have had to come to that.

    I know now that reading 100,000 articles wouldn’t have made my husband change his use of anger in our relationship, but I didn’t back then.  I rolled the dice on not following through on any threats I made and our relationship suffered as a result.  I always believed there was another way to reach him and being as defiant as my Aspie husband is… I wanted to prove myself right.  As it turns out (thankfully), there is a far better way to stop your husband’s anger (that does not involve threats), but this doesn’t mean it is an “easier” way.

     

    I KNOW YOU ARE NOW FEELING READY TO BEGIN MAKING PERSONAL CHANGES TO PREVENT HIS ANGER IN THE FUTURE…

    NOT SO FAST…

    I AM NOT CERTAIN YOU FULLY GRASP HOW DIFFICULT CHANGE IS QUITE YET

    Before I share the simple method you can use to begin teaching your husband to change his anger… I need to really drive home the point (as I enjoy doing) that this is NOT going to go smoothly.  As it stands, you have taught your Angry-Aspie husband that he does not need to change.  You have taught him that if he fights long enough… that if he is willing to go the distance to be proven right… that if there stands a remote chance that he could avoid a confrontation, get attention, gain satisfaction, make you go away, or ultimately… obtain CONTROL

    then it is worth the battle each and every time.

    You have taught your husband that his defiance WORKS… even if it is only effective 1 out of 10 times. You have taught your husband that he stands the chance to win, even if the odds are stacked heavily against him.  For a strong-willed and hardened fighter like your Aspie husband… those odds are going to continue to be worth his efforts and any negative consequence his efforts yield in your relationship.

     

    BACK TO THE PIECE OF SHIT LAWNMOWER

    Go ahead and try to tell your mechanically-gifted Aspie husband that his old lawnmower that only works 1 out of every 10 times he tries to cut the grass is “no good and he should consider buying a newer, more effective one.”  Go ahead and tell him that the poorly-cut lawn his machine manages to leave in its wake, the potential for eviction you both face if you are cited for an unacceptable home-appearance in your neighborhood one more time, or all the lost time between you both (that he spends trying to make it work) … go ahead and tell him why these reasons justify dumping that old piece of shit grass-chewer.

    And then go ahead and watch him throw his middle finger up at you in return.

    Watch him as he spends hours using an old mower to cut the lawn when a new one could get the job done in a fraction of the time, with a fraction of the energy, and with far more effective results.  Watch him as he defies your suggestion with unreasonably hostile anger.  Watch him as he loses weight in the blistering sun trying to prove the effectiveness and worthiness of his equipment.  Watch him as he wastes an entire day fixing it when he could have spent it enjoying the afternoon with his wife instead.  Watch him as he endures any negative consequence and sucks up countless hours of frustrated energy, to power through with his terribly defective machine.  Stand back in astonishment as he spends five times more money to fix his hunk of junk than it would have cost to purchase the best lawnmower on the market.

    WHAT AN IDIOT!

    Your Aspie husband believes his lawnmower is fully functional and has purpose. So long as his it serves its purpose every once in a while, it will be kept.  It has worked for him in the past and he believes with all of his stubborn might… that it will continue working in the future.  He will stop at nothing to prove himself right (not you wrong… but himself right).

    You may initially wonder why you are fighting with him over a lawnmower in the first place and willingly allow him to waste his day and energy on it if that’s what he chooses.  That is how you will respond until his “lawnmower efforts” begin to ruin your plans, mood, sense of security, and overall happiness because you never spend quality time together.  When your husband begins to ignore everything else in your marriage to “use his lawnmower” instead… it is going to really frickin matter to you at that point.

    You are going to try to buy a new “better” mower and put it in his direct line of sight so he opts to use that one the next time he cuts the grass.  When he ignores you, you are going to demand he use the new one.  When he ignores you, you are going to demand he stop using the old one.  When he ignores you, you are going to threaten to destroy or throw out the old one.  When he threatens you back and becomes more hostile, you are going to find yourself becoming angry, resentful, and hostile in return.

    You might even begin to beg him to stop using the old mower, plead with him to consider your feelings, or try to rationalize how a new mower could improve your time together.  When he ignores you, you are going to break down in tears and feel like he doesn’t even love you enough to change out an old stupid lawnmower that is causing completely unnecessary misery… even though there is a perfectly beneficial one right in front of his selfish eyes!  When you cry over it, he is going to tell you that you are being ridiculous.

    You may find yourself bouncing between a million different ways to get through to him, day after day, only to find that your husband has not ever stopped to even consider dumping his old mower or bothered to look at the new one… not even once.

    He hasn’t considered it because as far as he is concerned…

    the old one works, case closed.

    You can go toe to toe with this kind of Aspie defiance all day long but in the end, you will be left with exhaustion and a desire to just submit to his will and hope for a better tomorrow.  When you finally submit and he manages to get the lawn cut with his defective yard tool, he will consider his fight a victory.  That is how the Aspie husband solidifies the idea that his battle was a worthy one.  He will go on using his busted up shit-mower again next week, regardless of the negative impact it has on you.

    This is what you have been doing, and you can keep doing this… if you want the same outcome. Or… you can walk into the garage, gut the entire engine of the lawnmower and throw it away where he can never again find the parts (because guess what? The parts needed to build that machine long ago… they are no longer in existence to rebuild it again in the future!) and place a sign on the shell that remains that reads: BROKEN!

    Your husband is going to be really pissed off at you and he is going to rage on you.  Is that really going to matter when the end result is that he has to come to terms with the fact that his lawnmower is NEVER AGAIN GOING TO WORK and it can never again cut a single blade of grass for the remainder of eternity?

    Provided you make sure he can never figure out a way to make that stupid machine fire up again, EVEN ONE MORE TIME, he is going to have to let it go.  Once he accepts that his beloved lawnmower stands ZERO CHANCE of ever again working for him…

    HE IS GOING TO HAVE TO CHANGE IS METHOD OF CUTTING THE LAWN.

    He isn’t going to want to use that brand new super-mower that you purchased him because he is going to be angry at you.  Eventually though… when he comes to terms with the fact that he has to cut the lawn if he wants to remain in his home and have any quality time with his wife, he is going to give that new mower a second glance and consider using it.  He is going to rationalize why it is worth it to “give it a try” and he’s GOING TO USE IT.

     AFTER SEEING THE AMAZING RESULTS AND MINIMAL EFFORT IT TAKES TO ACHIEVE THEM,

     HE IS GOING TO CONTINUE TO USE IT…

     BECAUSE IT WORKS!

    You are not the lawnmower.  Your husband’s angry behavior is.  His anger has worked for him, albeit only a percent of the times he has used it, but it has still worked enough times to consider it functional.  Until you make it unarguably clear that his anger will NEVER AGAIN WORK FOR HIM to achieve a single positive or desired result…

    He will always default to it.

    It’s time for you to replace his old mower with a brand new (effective) one.

    I promise you, there is ZERO chance your husband will EVER change his current behaviors and learn to use more effective and positive ones until you make it clear to him that he has NO OTHER OPTION. It does not matter how angry, hostile, defensive, pathetic, dismissive, defiant, argumentative, lazy, or indifferent his behavior may be; he will not change it if it CONTINUES TO YIELD DESIRED RESULTS.  He has to comprehend that his anger is no longer working and will never again work as a means of control in your marriage.  Once he has expended every amount of defiant energy imaginable to deny that he is losing this battle, that his fight is a futile one because he cannot win and faces ultimate demise if he continues trying, that his method of obtaining control is a BROKEN METHOD…

    At that time your husband will be ready to make the changes necessary to replace his angry responses and approaches with more effective and positive ones. 

     MY HUSBAND TOLD ME WHAT TO DO, I JUST WASN’T LISTENING

    John told me what was happening this month as we sat on the floor of my closet in the dark.  He told me that we were failing, and we were failing because of his ignorance about how to respond appropriately to me (without anger).  He told me that we were failing because he was defaulting to anger as a method of control because he deemed it the easiest path to take… because it was familiar to him.

    It isn’t easier to get angry in response to feelings and emotions he does not comprehend, but he could not see that at the time.  It isn’t easier because in the long run, his anger puts up a wall to communicating with his wife.  In the long run, his anger leads to a wife who is angry, sad, hurt, afraid, exhausted, defeated, and ready to give up on the marriage.  In the long run, his anger has led to all of these feelings for himself as well.  In the long run, his anger has prevented the happiness both he and his wife could have been sharing for years… had he learned to change his use of it.

    When push came to shove, what John had convinced himself to be the easier path to trudge…

    had made his life (and his wife’s) pure hell.

    My husband was not alone.

     

    WHY PEOPLE DON’T CHANGE FOR THE BETTER

    People choose to take the road they think is easier (because it is what they are acclimated to) all the time.  If our society did not do this, everyone would be wealthy, highly educated, and the advancements made in our communities each day would be mind-blowing.

     People get by with “just enough” to keep telling themselves it is easier than trying to accomplish what they are actually capable of in their lives.

    Consider a woman who graduates high school with grand intentions of going to college and obtaining her degree and license as a physical therapist.  While she is in between high school and her wishful future, she stumbles on a fantastic opportunity to work as a clerk in one of the city’s top Sports Medicine Clinics, and the pay is impressive for a high school graduate to come upon.

    You might think this young lady is on the path to success and has the capacity to accomplish the goal of becoming a physical therapist in no time… if she just keeps pushing herself forward.

    Now consider this young lady meets a strikingly handsome and magnetic man who is interning at the clinic and “falls in love.”  Within a year, when she is just about ready to begin the college program she worked hard to get accepted into… she discovers she is pregnant and going to have a child at a young age with her new love.  Suddenly plans shift.  This motivated and determined girl is feeling fearful of the future.  Fear comes from wondering if she is ready to meet the demands of motherhood and the awesome responsibility it will bring.  Fear comes from wondering if she will be able to financially support her child’s needs, pay for college, and afford the larger living space the baby will require.  Suddenly, all of her thoughts will be filled with fear; fear that there will never be a feasible way to manage the time needed to attend college and study, work full time to cover costs, and have enough time with her new infant.  She begins to fear the stability of her new relationship as she and her new love begin arguing about the responsibilities their new discovery will entail of them both.  Fear is overriding every other emotion this young woman had a month ago… when she did not know she was pregnant.

    This woman is very religious and her religion does not allow for abortion to be considered.  This woman comes from a family that values children and is culturally against adoption.  This woman is firm in her childhood upbringing and the values it has instilled in her and she will not waver from them, not even long enough to consider an alternate option to having and raising her child.  This woman begins to break down and her stress ultimately becomes an intolerable and undesired weight on her new love.  Since he can “make a clean break” and not look back; the relationship was pretty new anyway and he has BIG PLANS that cannot be sidelined for a woman he wasn’t even certain he wanted to commit to…. he makes the choice to run… and he runs fast.

    Now this young lady is faced with emotions so intense she has a hard time making sense of them.  She decides to sideline her aspirations of attending college with the plan to return to it once she is “more stable.”

    Fast forward a decade and this woman, still a single parent, still working at the same clinic, considers a return to her initial dream of becoming a physical therapist; which has remained in the back of her mind all those years.  She feels like a failure and she feels like life is passing her by, so she wants to make a move before it is too late.  She can do it.  She can feel the fear and step through it and accomplish the life she knows is possible.

    She doesn’t.

    She doesn’t do it because the same fear that caused her to submit to taking the “easier road” a decade earlier still becomes the identified easier path this time around; the others lead to an unknown journey that carries unknown results.  The sad thing is, the easier path she is choosing is one that will definitely cause her to feel resentful or like a personal failure.  The easier path could never be the path that will always end with negative emotions that cause her harm, but she is blinded by fear.  Even though the decision to pursue school might be a challenge to undertake initially (as all major changes are), in the end it would likely bring less financial worry, less concern about her future stability and that of her young child, more possibility of finding a desirability relationship, less self-criticism, more pride in her accomplishments, and far more opportunities to uncover that may open new doors and paths she never thought possible.

    All she had to do was desire a change, abandon the old belief systems that paralyzed her life, and take a deep breath as she stepped forward into the unknown with an optimistic drive to succeed against all odds placed before her.  All she had to do was believe that a better life could be realized if she took the steps toward it.

    Do you think most people leap at the opportunity to change their lives for the better?

    No, of course they don’t or we would be living on a much happier planet.  People stay in the same spot even when it is making them miserable or it makes their life more challenging than it needs to be.  People thwart change and remain in unwanted relationships, careers, families, social circles, and environments, and they do it only because they are “used to it” and it has “gotten them by” until that time.

    For most people, that’s enough to not risk changing their life.

     DO YOU REALLY THINK HE WAS THE ONLY ONE THAT CHANGED?

    So where do you and your Aspie husband fit into this theory of change?  Well, for one thing you have likely read to this point with a feeling of motivation to tell your husband that his angry behavior is no longer going to be accepted as a behavior that “works” in your marriage, right?  You believe that if he were to change this one chronic emotion, your lives could change for the better.  You are probably even struggling to comprehend how he cannot see that he is enduring so much pain and negativity and there is a simple solution to changing it all.  It is probably very difficult to understand why he would be willing to risk losing 9 out of 10 times (by utilizing anger) when he could turn that into a 90-100% success rate instead.  This doesn’t seem so hard to grasp, right?  So why can’t he see this?

    I DON’T KNOW…

    MAYBE FOR THE SAME REASON YOU CANNOT SEE YOU ARE DOING THE SAME THING AND PLAYING THE SAME TERRIBLE ODDS?!?!?

    You and your husband were happy together once.  You were happy or you never would have opted to move forward in the relationship.  The time for him to develop a sense of security in his “bare minimum” efforts would never have been afforded to him.  You identified early on that you did not like being treated like a doormat, right?  You knew pretty quick your husband was treating you with disrespect and you did not like the way it felt.  You told yourself that “Something has GOT TO CHANGE” or your life was going to remain miserable… or get worse.

     But nothing changed because you weren’t willing to make the same change you have been expecting your husband to make…

    to abandon an old behavior that DOES NOT WORK!

    You have 90-100% odds of improving your relationship, or at least your own feelings of self-worth if you immediately choose to STOP your husband’s ability to treat you like a doormat ever again.  You have a 0-10% chance at finding happiness if you DO NOT CHANGE your own behavior.

    Why are you still trying to rationalize odds so stacked against you?

    Is it because you have become equally complacent in your effort?  Are you afraid of the changes that are absolutely going to occur (one way or another) when you finally do draw an unsurpassable line in the sand?  Are you afraid of the immediate changes you will be forced to make the moment you make it clear to your husband that his anger will NEVER AGAIN be accepted as a means of control in your marriage?

    You are getting 0-10% of the love you deserve and only 0-10% of the love your husband has to offer. Why are you still asking yourself if that 0-10% is a high enough return on your investment to stick around when you could be getting 90-100% instead?

    It’s what you are used to… isn’t it?

    You have “gotten by” with less than 10% all this time, haven’t you?

    It’s ok, you can admit it. 

    When the final ruling of “who needs to change in your marriage” is handed down,

    you are going to get a unanimous verdict.

    YOU BOTH DO!

     

    Suck it up buttercup.  You are no different from your Aspie husband.  Your behaviors may be different, and your comprehension of “what” needs to change may be more readily identifiable to you than it is to him; but long ago the two of you equally chose to cement your feet into a foundation of disappointment and resentment all because you were both afraid of change.  That fear of change has sent both of you into a desperate fight for power and control that neither of you could ever win.

     

    STOP BEING SUCH A CHICKENSHIT

    You do not need to be afraid of change.  You do not need to fear this, because you already know your husband CAN CHANGE his behavior.  You know this because HE HAS CHANGED ALREADY (and so have you).  He wasn’t the man that stands before today you when you first fell in love.  He was a better version of himself, a complete image of what he is capable of being AGAIN in the future (if not way more).

    If he changed once to become the angry man you currently share a bed with…

    he can change back to the man you couldn’t wait to share a bed with!

    Your Aspie husband is not mentally ill.  Your Aspie husband does not have a brain injury.  Your Aspie husband does not have a personality disorder.  Your Aspie husband does not have a physical ailment preventing him from changing back to the man you fell in love with.

    Yeah, you finally comprehend something you didn’t know back when all those awful changes were beginning to occur… you know a little something about cognitive empathy.  You know that your Aspie husband cannot read nonverbal messages.  Do you understand fully that that is the ONLY thing he cannot do?

    Guess what?  You don’t need your husband to comprehend nonverbal messages to be happy together because YOU are more than capable of using verbal words to clearly express what you are thinking, feeling, and desiring from him; you are equally competent enough to make sense of the verbal words he is saying to you.  Guess what else?  Your Aspie husband did not have cognitive empathy when you met him either.  Your Aspie husband couldn’t read your nonverbal messages back then any more than he can today, but that did not prevent you from falling deeply in love with him enough to become his wife, did it?  You fell in love with that man so much that THAT MAN is who you want him to transform back into.

    Asperger’s syndrome did not cause your marital difficulties,

    defaulting back to his previously learned behaviors and resistance to change did. 

    Your husband was the same Aspie the day you fell in love with him that he is today,

    he just needs your help to let those broken defenses go.

    GOT IT… SO NOW WHAT?

    So what are you going to do?  Are you going to put your damn foot down and tell your husband that the angry behaviors he used in the past that “worked for him” are no longer an option?  Are you going to tell him his old method is BROKEN and will never again function to control you in any regard?  Are you going to tell your husband that it is time for CHANGE or he is no longer going to have a wife to change for?  Are you going to admit that it is time for you to begin changing what you will and will not allow to occur in your marriage from this day forward?  Are you going to stop blaming Asperger’s syndrome for his anger and stop allowing his anger to define your daily existence?  Are you going to stop letting him control your emotions and start regaining the power you both should have to live fulfilling and happy lives?  Are you going to stop considering that you are in ANY WAY responsible for causing your husband’s anger, you are only responsible for allowing it to continue?

    You didn’t cause your husband’s anger any more than he caused your response to it.  Your husband’s anger-response was learned many years before he ever met you.  His anger is a default reaction to fear of pain; it is a default attempt to gain control in situations where he feels powerless. It worked for him in his youth, it worked for him as an adult, and it works for him with you in your marriage. You must completely comprehend why he has anger, why he uses anger, and that his anger is a modifiable behavior before you will be ready to do anything about his anger.  You must be ready and willing to never again allow it to work for him to gain control and truly understand that if you allow it to work, even 1% of the time, you are allowing him to continue using it 100% of the time.

     

    IT’S ON YOU NOW.

     WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

     

     

     

    Look for the pending post: WHAT CAN I DO TO STOP THE ANGER?


  • ASPERGER’S SYNDROME & SEX

     

    WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM SEXUALLY?

    Let me know if the word “wrong” seems terribly “wrong” after you read this explanation of your Aspie husband in the bedroom 

     

    I get a ton of personal emails asking me questions about sex in an Aspie-NT marriage, from both Aspies and Neurotypicals alike. Few people are brave enough to ask the question or share personal stories about this part of their relationship on the blog itself, but I commend those who have. This subject is so important to talk about, but also rarely explored in Aspie-NT articles and blogs.  Discussing the deeply private and personal happenings of a couple in the bedroom is sometimes considered “off-limits” for public view. Sometimes this is because of religious beliefs, cultural expectations, or because of the insecurity, embarrassment, and utter humiliation people feel when they expose this part of their inner world to others.

    While I have promised to give full disclosure about my marriage and thoughts through my writing, I have to mention that I cannot share personal stories about my own sex life. As much as I haven’t any reservation openly talking about the good, the bad, or any changes we have made along the way to ensure this part of our life was kept intact, I have made a promise I intend to keep out of respect for my husband.  

    When I began this blog, I asked John if he had specific things he did not want me to disclose to the world about himself or our life. While he is pretty apathetic in general to this blog and said “whatever you want” (I don’t think he actually realizes people READ IT, lol), he did say he did not want me to talk about our sex life in detail.  There was also one silly behavior he has (unrelated to sex) that boggles my mind (to this day) that he is embarrassed about and asked me not to share.  I’m not going to lie, I’d rather share the peculiar behavior he has than our sex life, but I have already pissed him off about this one too many times, so I have to honor his request.  Unfortunately, in the search for “why does he do that?!?” and not getting a rational explanation from him, I began asking one-too-many people what their thoughts were on his behavior (which I told him) and subsequently learned he did NOT appreciate. It isn’t anything perverse or cruel… think OCD-ish.

    Since I am beyond thankful that John has given me his blessing (or utter indifference) to me openly sharing our private life with the world, I would be a real asshole to not respect the only things he requested I not publicly talk about. Luckily, there are enough commonalities to the Aspie-NT sexual concerns out there that I can keep this post pretty generic and you can draw your own conclusions about whether or not any of these “issues” have occurred in my marriage.  

     

     

    SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

    All of the times NT women say that their sex life is poor or non-existent, or that their husband isn’t interested in sex, that he makes them feel undesired, that he is routine and robotic in his actions in bed, that he is only interested in getting his own needs met, that he is too sensitive to touch, etc… I hear you.  

    I hear you, but I need you to consider this:  there is a 90% chance (*Kara-Stats*) that your husband still desires you, wants to please you, would be willing and wanting to follow your lead, and wishes to God he knew exactly what you expected and wanted in bed… because if he did, he would try to make it happen.

    I know you don’t believe me yet, but that’s because you don’t understand what is happening “behind the scenes” and cannot see something so obvious it is probably going to make you feel pretty bad when you realize it.  Don’t feel bad… I didn’t comprehend anything until I began to fully comprehend cognitive empathy.

    Your husband is not sexually disabled or dysfunctional, he is severely impaired by his own insecurities, fear, and anxiety.  

    It is NOT you, it is NOT because he does not like or need sex, it is NOT because he is weird or selfish or uncaring.  My *Kara-Stats* has a 90% assurance that your husband loves you and wants to have sex with you.  I leave 5% open for the men who really could not care less about sex (at all); although some of the Antidepressants our Aspie husbands get prescribed in their youth (when the diagnosis was missed) can cause a loss of sex drive.  I leave the other 5% open to men who should be diagnosed with High Functioning Autism (not Asperger’s syndrome), because HFA would present with someone disinterested in interpersonal engagement (to include sex). 

    If you are thinking that your husband doesn’t care or want sex at all, but does not fit into my non-scientific 10%… you are not alone.  I am betting a developed aversion to sex is to blame for why he appears to not desire this in his life. What do I mean by a “developed aversion” to sex?  Here I go with a random analogy:

    Let’s say someone is allergic to strawberries.  When this person eats strawberries, (even a tiny nibble of one) they break out in embarrassing hives all over their face and neck.  Now pretend this person REALLY loved strawberries as a child (and had no reaction to them) and would have prefered them to ANY other food if given the option. Since this person did not know they were going to develop an allergic response later in life, the first time this happened to them (when they were in the presence of a person they really liked), they were incredibly embarrassed to see their reflection in the mirror.  

    While this person did not suddenly develop an aversion to the taste of strawberries (Hell No! They loved the way they tasted still) they knew they could no longer partake in eating them without suffering an unflattering facial rash.  If that person is in a social setting and offered to taste a delightful strawberry treat, their response will quickly become, “Oh, no! I don’t like strawberries!” 

    THEY DO LIKE STRAWBERRIES!

    In fact, this person likes strawberries so much they still crave them and dream about indulging in everything-strawberry while they sleep at night.  When placed in an environment where they know their love of strawberries is going to have people making fun of them or questioning what is “wrong” with them (because their hive-infested face cannot be ignored), they would rather starve then consider putting a beloved strawberry in their mouth. 

    Tracking? 

    If not… I am trying to tell you that instead of thinking your husband has an aversion to sex, pretend it is an allergy to strawberries!  He wants them, he craves them, he thinks they are delicious… but he experiences unwanted attention and anxiety about the potential (uncontrollable) physical response his body will have if he eats one.  Since his ability to eat a strawberry like a “normal” person without suffering a physiologic response that makes him look “weird” is impaired… he would rather pretend he hates them then expose how silly they make him look. 

     

    SEX IS NONVERBAL

    Being in-tune with a person sexually is LITERALLY the act of using intuitive non-verbal language with one another to the point of physical gratification.

    Think about this for a minute…. sex is almost entirely nonverbal! 

    Your husband is cognitively incapable of processing nonverbal communication unless it is incredibly obvious and/or something he has learned to associate with a need over time and repetition.  Huh?  If you tell your husband that slamming your bag on the dining room table means you are in a bad mood… eventually he is going to know what that nonverbal message means in the future.  He isn’t going to connect the dots that throwing your arms up in the air or saying, “I need to get out of here” means the same thing (I am in a bad mood) as the bag-slamming unless you tell him that as well.  

    Sex is no different and this connection to the nonverbal messages he “thinks” he has deciphered from you (in regard to sex) are often not complete or correct. 

    Guess what?  You inadvertently caused the very things you are unhappy about in your sex life… but it’s ok, it is not your fault any more than it is his so don’t beat yourself up.  

    It would be exceptionally rare for an NT-e to directly state what they want sexually with clear, unambiguous, simple language before or during the act itself (especially in the beginning of the relationship).  There are exceptions to this, as some NT-e women are more mature and open about their sexual needs in general and tell their partner exactly what they like from the start… but I bet you these women aren’t the ones complaining their Aspie husband doesn’t like or need sex!  For all the other NT-e women, they are going to (by nature) let the man take the lead in the bedroom when the relationship first begins to develop.  

    Aspies aren’t so good at taking the lead in a situation like this!

    Considering sex is almost entirely suggestive, indirect, and filled with facial expressions and body language that tells a person they are doing something right, or they are doing something wrong… Aspie husbands are inherently screwed (I’m funny) from the very start.  Honestly, how could your poor Aspie husband ever figure out what he needs to do in bed to make you happy if he can’t even figure out how to have an emotionally-charged conversation with you (whereby you utilize 90% non-verbal language)?  If you are struggling to communicate effectively, it should go without say that your sex life is going to be the epitome of miscommunication; this is why the majority of NT-Aspie marriages include incredibly frustrating feelings toward their private life in the bedroom. 

    Ironic that no one talks about this openly thought, isn’t it?  Something as important as sexual chemistry and satisfaction gets pushed to the backburner; it is still a taboo subject and NT wives feel embarrassed themselves to expose how miserable they are.

    Let me see if I can help clarify this for everyone out there…. I need you to remember when you had your first sexual encounter with someone you REALLY liked…  

    I’m serious… stop reading this for a few minutes and really try to remember how you behaved before, during, and after you had sex with the person?

     Weren’t you nervous? Giggling perhaps? Sensitive to every touch? Unsure if a noise you made or a facial expression would make you sound or look ridiculous?  Weren’t you going through a playbook in your mind of “how to do it right” after reading, hearing about, or watching the way two people “are supposed” to act when they are being intimate? Didn’t that playbook in your mind distract a little from your ability to enjoy the moment because you were so preoccupied with not doing something wrong (or the opposite)? Weren’t you a little afraid after the whole thing was done that the person would not view you the same anymore?

    Now think about most young men and their first sexual encounter at all.  Isn’t there a running joke in society about how their first encounter “only lasted a second?”  Most NT men will willingly laugh about their early days of sex and how they were a “two pump chump” or a complete mess overall and not think much of the humiliation they actually felt during that time in their life. 

    But, imagine if the mortification a young man has in his first sexual encounter never went away and he was always afraid he would experience premature ejaculation or do something wrong and be a disappointment to women for the rest of his life?  

    Welcome to the life of a man with Asperger’s syndrome! 

    Now combine that fear of personal embarrassment to an Aspie who is already riddled with social anxiety and confusion over the messages he is “missing” throughout his life. Think of the countless failures he endured in his attempts to form a close relationship with his peers, let alone a woman he really likes.  How long do you think it will take for that Aspie to develop an aversion or fear of sex in general if he is repeatedly told he is doing something wrong, selfish, or abnormal in bed?  Imagine how it feels to have it pointed out that he is finishing too soon, or asked if there is “something wrong?” with him after sex? 

    An NT male usually (not always) learns to read nonverbal language in bed and eventually (through exposure therapy) learns ways to prolong sex or adapt to their partner’s unique desires.  An anxiety-ridden Aspie, terrified of screwing up or being labeled weird or abnormal (ESPECIALLY from the woman they have fallen for) only has compounding anxieties the longer they are exposed to sex.

     

    Here is what this adverse reaction looks like:

     

    NO INTEREST IN SEX

    Some Aspie men (after hearing they are not pleasing in bed) forgo sex altogether because the humiliation and worry associated with it are too great to emotionally withstand.  They sacrifice something they really want to avoid the unpleasant emotions and thoughts that sex evokes. 

    Regardless of how you spin it, your husband is still a man, and by nature, he has a fragile ego when it comes to society’s expectations in typical-male abilities.  Some Aspie men are so afraid of ever being called out on their inadequacies ever again in the bedroom they will purposely forgo sex altogether in their marriage (even though they still desire it) and develop an unnatural stoicism about the topic as though they are so “manly” they don’t require that kind of mushy-nonsense in their world to be happy. These men seem to be so indifferent to sex that they unknowingly project their assumed inadequacies on their wives and make them feel inadequate or undesirable themselves. 

    In reality… these Aspie men would rather suffer the loss of something they truly crave and want for themselves instead of risking the loss of their spouse to their “incompetent skills.”

    Well now…

    that’s sad. 

    ROBOTIC OR ROUTINE SEX

    Think about how honest you were with your Aspie husband when you initially began having sex?  Did you openly complain about the way he moved a certain way, or something awkward he did during sex?

    OF COURSE NOT, YOU’RE AN NT-e!

    YOU WOULD NEVER HURT SOMEONE’S FEELINGS LIKE THAT!

    How the heck could he know he was doing something wrong or displeasing if you never told him? I’ll bet by the time you did finally try to tell him to change something, you didn’t tell him directly, did you?  Nope.  You used gentle ambiguous words, you used suggestions, you tried to tell him with nonverbal facial expressions or body language, or you may have even disengaged him in sex for a while when he appeared to be ignoring your indirect requests.   

    Guess what?  All of those efforts were completely pointless because he didn’t pick up on any of your messages at all!  What he did pick up on was that you were “being weird” and he wasn’t sure why.

    Eventually you became irritated or frustrated with your husband “not taking the hint” about what you wanted (or didn’t want) in regard to sex.  I bet you even called him on some of the things you didn’t appreciate about your sex life in the heat of an argument didn’t you?  Unfortunately, if you are like most NT women, you probably clearly articulated angry words of disappointment or rejection toward your Aspie husband’s sexual abilities out of anger, didn’t you?  Your bluntness most definitely got through to him at that point. 

    Ugh… this is such an unfortunate and common scenario!

    So in all of the times you thought you were telling your husband (in nice ways) that you wanted more sex, wanted him to try new things, wanted him to pay attention to your needs more, wanted him to work on delaying his orgasm, etc. he wasn’t hearing you.  The first time he did hear you, it was in the form of utterly cruel rejection that he felt completely blindsided by. 

    He couldn’t have known you had building frustration about your sex life (you never explicitly told him).  When you finally unleashed your frustration with unflattering and accusatory words, like, “You’re like a robot in bed!” or something equally hurtful… the only way he should have been expected to respond was with hostility and anger.  Why wouldn’t he?  To him, out of the clear blue sky, you insulted his manhood and attacked his fragile ego.  As an Aspie man, already incredibly insecure about his sexual performance, you just went for the jugular (to him) and maliciously informed him that everything he feared you would think about him… you did. 

    Ouch… that must have hurt him. 

    Of course, being an NT-e, you felt guilty for what you said to him and have acutely keen cognitive empathy so you had little problem identifying that your words hit him hard and they cut deep.  So what did you do in response?  You compound the routine and robotic sex by doing something so damn typical (and ironic) that it is almost comical when you look at it in retrospect. 

    While your “outburst” of insulting your husband’s manhood may have been very well-deserved from your perspective, it was nothing more than a malicious act to humiliate him from where he stood.  In an attempt to mitigate the situation, you may have apologized or tried to explain yourself (this fell on deaf ears).  You may have a husband who withdrew from you sexually as a result of your words.  If he did this for a significant amount of time, it would have compounded your frustration and hurt feelings. 

    But you were still a silly NT-e and you blamed yourself for “going too far” and you couldn’t wait for a chance to make amends for your hurtful actions. 

    The next time you finally had sex again, I bet you were overly appreciative, complimenting, or even fake claiming it was “incredibly amazing” sex.  You may have done this in an attempt to erase the damage you had done.  You may have just been so thrilled he wanted to be intimate with you again (your self-confidence was also on shaky ground) that you were overly verbal about how much you enjoyed the sex because you were praying he didn’t stonewall intimacy in the future.  You knew what positive reinforcement was, so you were hoping if you praised his abilities the next time you had sex, that it would motivate him to want to continue having sex with you because, NT-e women crave physical intimacy… even if it doesn’t lead to intercourse.  

    Oh man… now you’ve done it!

    By providing your husband with that positive reinforcement after feeling so humiliated and insecure, he is going to make a mental note of whatever it is he did “that time” in bed that left you so pleased by him.  It was at your overly reassuring critique of sex that you unknowingly set the stage for him to repeat that intimate encounter (step by step) in every single sexual encounter to come in the future!  He has to repeat it exactly the same way because he doesn’t want to screw it up again.  You gave him confirmation that he did it right that time, so he is not going to want to mess with that recipe of success by changing it up in the future. 

    Let’s say you never verbally unleashed your disappointment in him out loud. Perhaps you both existed in a relationship where you backed off from sex because you were not having your needs met but were “too kind” to openly tell him this. Eventually, you will feel rejected by your husband even if you were the one who stopped allowing it to happen in the first place.  Tired of waiting for him to initiate an intimate encounter, you may engage him yourself one night while in bed.  Your husband, no doubt, would also be feeling rejected from your withdrawal from sex, so he’d be absolutely ecstatic when you showed signs you wanted to be physical with him again.

    Historically speaking, your Aspie partner really has no idea when you want sex if you do not tell him (he can’t pick up on your hints and body language).  On the night you suddenly act as the initiator, his mind will instantly try to nail down the action “he” made to get this wanted response from you.  He will quickly think, “Ok, what the hell did I just do to make her want sex?”  If he decides it was the way he brushed his face across your neck, or stroked your arm… there is a damn good chance he is going to try THAT MOVE again every single time he desires sex (thinking it is your trigger to respond to his wants).  Since most couples are timid sexually when they are newly together, your Aspie husband (clueless about what actions indicate it is “go time”) will automatically default to whatever he thought worked in the past.  He will also automatically default to doing whatever he thinks pleases you, and do it repetitively unless told otherwise.  

    This is why Aspie husbands are constantly accused of being “robotic” in bed.

    Often, we are so sensitive and attracted to our mate in the early days of courtship that even the most basic sexual acts or touches turn us on.  It is just the act of touch alone from the man we desire that sends us into a heightened state of arousal.   If you had this experience in the beginning, you will eventually realize that what once pleased you, is no longer enough after you settle into a long term relationship.  You’re Aspie husband will not have this same epiphany.  

    Even if you never felt incredibly turned on by your husband in the early days of the relationship, you likely still pretended the sex was sufficient if you were hoping it would improve, or just wanting to remain with him into the future. This unspoken dissatisfaction will eventually cause you to feel frustrated that your needs are not being met.  

    This happens in NT-NT marriages as well for similar reasons.  The major difference is that an NT partner will pick up on the nonverbal messages that something is amiss and has the ability to try to change things for the better… or at least address them openly.  The Aspie husband is not going to ever know things aren’t up to par (in your mind) and will continue assuming you are content in your sex life unless you directly say something.

    Regardless of how you initially behaved toward your husband regarding sexual intimacy, if you do not vocalize that your needs have changed, or become comfortable enough to tell him what you really want… he is never going to figure it out on his own!  If he thinks you are happy or satisfied from the beginning… he is not going to change his behavior because… HE IS TERRIFIED OF LOSING YOU and doesn’t want you do discover that he is not a “sexual genius” in the bedroom. 

    You see… it was never about him NOT wanting to please you… 

    it was about him NOT WANTING TO DISAPPOINT YOU. 

    Your Aspie husband never knew, does not know, and will never know what you want UNLESS YOU TELL HIM.

    He is NOT a robot so STOP enabling him to act like one.

    PREMATURE EJACULATION (PE)

    Let’s tackle this taboo subject once and for all. 

    Premature ejaculation is the uncontrolled ejaculation that occurs either before or shortly after penetration.  PE happens with minimal sexual stimulation and before the person (or their partner) wants it to.  PE causes unsatisfied feelings for the NT wife and embarrassment for the Aspie husband. 

    Going back to the “teenage or young adult” man in his early days of being sexually active, PE is an incredibly common experience and it can create anxiety for any young man… it can create debilitating anxiety for an Aspie who is already riddled with self-criticism and insecurity where interpersonal relationships are concerned. 

    Despite PE being the most common form of sexual dysfunction for all men (NT or Aspie), it will happen to almost every one of them at least once in their lifetime… but it is rarely discussed.  The cause of PE is not clear, but it is associated with inexperience, new partners, or long spans of time between ejaculations.  The general opinion of medical professionals is that anxiety is the underlying psychological cause for the majority of men who suffer from PE.   

    Since it goes without say (I hope) that men with Asperger’s syndrome are plagued with chronic anxiety in social environments, it would make sense that men with Aspergers are at an incredibly heightened risk of experiencing PE over the average man. 

    But let’s talk about other reasons this is so common amongst Aspies.

    Tourette’s syndrome is the involuntary movement or vocalization of sounds made by a person intermittently and seemingly without cause.  These movements or sounds are called motor or vocal “tics” and become more severe when a person is stressed or placed in an anxiety-provoking environment. 

    Premature ejaculation is just like Tourette’s syndrome (ok, it isn’t… but try to play along with my analogy).  Let’s say a person has Tourette’s syndrome and their particular tic is a noticeable shrugging of their shoulders that can often seem dramatic and distracting to those around them.  This person has a unique “tic” that once you become aware of it… you can disregard it as anything “bizarre or worrisome” and may even look past its existence after a while.  When you are in public with this person and realize they are feeling anxious, you may notice they are shrugging their shoulders in an increasing and more dramatic way.  If you are close to this person, you may think, “Ok, that’s their motor tic, they are stressed, no biggie.”  It will be easily accepted by you that increased stress means an increased display of the severity of this person’s motor tic.

    Now think about PE.

    If a young Aspie has the same experience as a young NT in their first sexual encounter, whereby they reach orgasm long before they intended to, they will feel anxiety about the reoccurrence of it in a similar way. 

    While both men are equally embarrassed and afraid they will continue to experience PE in the future, the NT male may read about ways to offset this or delay orgasm and put them into practice the next time.  Relaxation and focusing on other things is one of the most recommended tactics to utilize as a first line of action toward preventing PE. 

    The Aspie may read the same stuff, but they are at a severe disadvantage to the NT the next time they are placed in an intimate encounter.  The Aspie has a profound amount of anxiety JUST BEING in a “one on one” situation with a person they wish to be close to.  They have lived a life of rejection (for reasons unknown to them) and they are going to walk into each “date” or social event terrified they will screw it up or make the woman want to run from them. 

    This fear does not get better after a grace period (as it might for an NT man) because the Aspie is truly not certain what he has ever done (or not done) to cause social rejection throughout his entire life.

    You can’t change something you can’t understand.

    Since PE is predominantly a result of anxiety, the Aspie man is effectively screwed when compared to the NT because he is unable to exist in a non-anxious state long enough to even attempt the suggestions that might help him delay orgasm in the future. 

    If the Aspie man is afraid this will happen to him during sex, he is going to be LESS likely to ever prevent it.  Just like Tourette’s syndrome, the tic is an “uncontrolled and involuntary” action that becomes more severe as stress increases.  PE is an uncontrolled and involuntary action that becomes more likely as anxiety increases.

    That seems pretty simple…

    It sucks…

    But it definitely makes rational sense, right?

    I know there are tons of people who want to claim that the PE experienced by Aspies is a direct result of their Asperger-induced sensitivities.  I have a lot to say on the subject of tactile, audible, visual, etc. “sensitivities” that those with Asperger’s syndrome continuously sight as the “reason” for their behavior (from avoidance to full-on temper tantrums).  Since I have another long post dedicated to this subject, I will only say that while I do not discount the fact that Aspies have an increased likelihood of such sensitivities, I do think they need to stop hiding behind them as an excuse.  I believe strongly that all of these “sensitivities” are modifiable and preventable if the “cause” is looked at closely.  I do not endorse the use of them as an excuse to disengage or inappropriately respond to people or environments.

     

    Dammit…

    Now I have opened that can of worms and I haven’t put up that post yet to back my “inconsiderate” opinion.  

    Ok, I feel compelled to offer a few examples to offset the anticipated onslaught of defensively angry Aspies who will chastise my words…

    I am a nurse and I have seen countless examples of how the human brain causes automatic physical responses to protect itself from a perceived threat.  For example, if a person has had their leg broken, they may have excruciating pain when someone touches that extremity.  They may have damaged nerves that compound the sensitivity and a seemingly gentle touch may feel as though a person is squeezing, stabbing, or crushing their poor broken limb. 

    While this person’s sensitivity is the direct result of a traumatic injury, their brain will begin to create an automatic response to any degree of physical contact with that leg to tell them they are in danger… to the point that if a person even comes close to it, or they “think” the nurse is “going” to touch their leg… they will shriek out in pain as though they have been severely hurt. I do not doubt they are actually feeling the very pain causing them to cry out, even though the nurse hasn’t even touched them!  Why?  Because the brain is telling them they are going to be harmed and it is causing the physical manifestation of discomfort to thwart further injury to their already compromised leg. 

    The brain is incredibly defensive of the physical self. 

    Here’s the thing… this same patient won’t even flinch when the nurse is actually touching (and sometimes with pain causing actions) their broken leg if they are in a deep sleep and have no knowledge an “attack” is approaching.

    Fear of pain causes actual pain.

    Want another example?  Ok, let’s say there is a woman who was physically abused by her uncle at a young age.  Every time this abuse took place, it was in the uncle’s kitchen, where fluorescent lights were overhead.  Without realizing it, this child may have had neurological synapses connect themselves to the parts of the brain that process both light and fear. In an attempt to protect the physical self from further assault, the brain has now made a connection that the young girl is completely unaware of. 

    As an adult, this woman may find herself stricken with paralyzing anxiety and fear the moment she is placed in an environment with fluorescent lighting.  She may have no idea why this occurs, since she did not consciously connect fluorescent lighting with physical abuse as a child… but it doesn’t make the trauma she experiences when placed in such lighting any less profound.

    Fear causes actual physical responses to a threat.

    Tracking?

    Going back to the idea that PE occurs at a higher rate for Aspie men because they have all of these debilitating sensitivities… “caused” by Asperger’s syndrome itself, is not really true.  The sensitivity to touch that causes PE is because of ANXIETY, therefore, the brain connects the sexual act of touch as a perceived threat to their physical self and how their body suffers when it is in an anxious state.  This connection between touch and anxiety can cause an unconscious aversion (sensitivity) to it. 

    Aspie men are fearful they will experience PE and their body may become hypersensitive to touch in general… this can turn into a husband who tells their wife they don’t want to be “touched” at all.  Naturally, the reason for his words are not understood and make the wife feel unwanted and rejected.  He is not going to be able to articulate why he has this sensitivity and he is most definitely not going to realize that thwarting physical contact makes his wife feel unloved. He can’t make this connection unless she directly tells him how it makes her feel.  

    Once again, if a man is afraid of reaching orgasm too soon and disappointing his wife or being viewed as inferior or abnormal, he is going to become anxious about it.  If he is anxious, the likelihood of ever preventing it from happening becomes an impossibility.

    It all comes down to using direct language to express what you are thinking and feeling to the person you are married to. 

    If the Aspie husband knew that his wife understood WHY he had this problem and that she did not think less of him for it… she might help ease his anxiety (which could slowly begin to fix the problem).  If the wife were able to verbalize to him that there are other things he can do to “compensate” for it that will make both partners feel loved and sexually prioritized, the feelings of anxiety and self-criticism can begin to wean as well (over time). There are ways to improve and work on these issues but they require direct communication and willingness to listen.  

    Don’t expect your husband to joyously engage in this discussion with you.  Actually, you should anticipate an impressing show of hostility at first.

    Remember that anger masks all of his other emotions.  If you remain calm and allow him to speak (and do not overwhelm his mind with flurries of words he has to decipher) you will see other emotions lurking behind his seemingly “hostile” behavior. 

    While your husband may continue to speak with a loud, nasty, or angry tone; listen to his actual words… you will usually find a wide range of other emotions and feelings being expressed like fear, embarrassment, anxiety, stress, rejection, etc.

    It is absolutely imperative that an NT spouse understands that her husband cannot receive her nonverbal messages because he does not have cognitive empathy.  It is even more important to realize that lacking cognitive empathy means her husband has NO CLUE how his own nonverbal messages are being presented to the outside world. 

    Your husband does not know he sounds angry, he does not know he appears irate, he does not know his tone and pitch sound accusatory or cruel.  He is not intending to do this (sometimes he is) but more often than not, he has as much awareness about how his words and behaviors appear to you… as he does about what your words and behaviors should mean to him.

     

    YOU HAVE TO START LISTENING TO WHAT HE IS ACTUALLY SAYING, NOT THE WAY HE IS SAYING IT!!!

    Oh, by the way…

    Your husband suffers from Premature Ejaculation because,

    HE IS AFRAID HE WILL SUFFER FROM PREMATURE EJACULATION

    (Enjoy that irony!)

    IN CONCLUSION

    Stop assuming your husband is not interested in sex. 

    Stop assuming your husband doesn’t find you attractive. 

    Stop assuming your husband is selfish in bed. 

    Stop assuming your husband is an asshole in general. 

    Start taking a step back and looking at this entire dynamic from outside the box.

    The answers you seek are just lurking behind your ability to communicate with direct language.

     

    Still think your husband has something “wrong” with him sexually?

    Think maybe there is just something “wrong” with the way you communicate instead?


  • YOU DON’T HAVE TO FORCE AN ASPIE TO DRINK ONCE YOU LEAD THEM TO WATER

    MY ASPIE HUSBAND WAS THIRSTY

    My posts are all created from years of random thoughts, insights, experiences, compiled lists, and references already on paper or my laptop that I weed through before narrowing down a specific topic.  All of this information comprises what led me to my current opinions on Asperger’s syndrome and the happy marriage my husband and I now share.

    Before I feel content bringing these incredibly long and thoroughly researched subjects to all of you, I rigorously fact-check everything I have to say (I do not want to lead anyone down a misguided path… ever).  I put a great deal of effort into re-reading, reviewing, and trying to disprove or solidify my own theories with new information in existence before I feel confident I am providing all of you with factual information (like statistics and scientific data) or proven/disproven behaviors attempted in my own relationship.  Since this obviously takes time to accomplish, and I work 50-80 hours every week, I began feeling very frustrated with the gaps between my posts the last nine months.

    I remember reading things about Asperger’s syndrome over the years and having questions about what I read or wanting more in-depth information from the writer, but most of the time the articles or posts were closed for comments or so old no one ever replied to me.  I do not want to do this to anyone, especially since I am incredibly inspired and appreciative of the time people have taken to read and comment on my posts, share their own stories, or ask for more information.

    This is not meant to be a blog only about my life, it is intended to be a source of information and insight gleaned from all of our lives to offer hope instead of what we keep finding when we go in search of it.  I want to play whatever role I can in opening the doors to understanding, communication, and bridging the gaps that exist in Aspie-NT relationships.  I want to offer hope to those who are currently in, or newly embarking on this challenging dynamic themselves.

    I wish I had someone tell me the things that took over five years to realize before my husband and I almost destroyed one another!

    In an attempt to promote this information-sharing the best I can, I have decided to begin taking reader-comments that spark lengthy responses from me and turn them into “interim” posts everyone can read; that may have otherwise gotten lost beneath posts of lesser interest.  I hope this helps to fill the gaps of time in between my excessive rants about topics I am passionate about and inspire everyone to keep commenting so that their experiences, knowledge, and questions can be explored in further detail.  I also truly hope that by doing this, I will offset the chance that I could become another blogger who leaves people wanting more information.

     

    So here is my first “short” post addressing a comment I received yesterday from a reader.

    The author of this comment (HJH) gave a familiar snapshot of the common feelings many neurotypical wives have about their Aspie husband’s capacity to change.  I do not know if HJH identifies themselves as a neurotypical, someone with High-Functioning Autism, ASD, or Asperger’s syndrome.  I do not know if they are male or female, married or single.  All I know is that they expressed sentiments remarkably similar to those I held for many years so it prompted a long reply from me:

     

    (WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG?) 

    HJH wrote:

    There are a lot of variables to ASD and I do agree that Aspergers is different than regular autism. It was grouped together because of many shared similarities, but unlike classical autism, people with HFA and ASD can control some of the characteristics of the disorders. It comes down to choice. If a person is capable of making a choice, he or she can change. It may be harder for some than others, but it can still be done. Empathy is a trait that can grow in every individual if the person chooses to allow it to grow. Empathy is a God-given characteristic that can be fostered. When you plant a seed, you have to water it consistently for it to grow. I don’t care if people with ASD have lower empathy levels than others-it just takes more work and a willingness to make sacrifices for the one’s you love! Many people with ASD have been given excuses because of their weaknesses, but weaknesses don’t have to stagnate and not be remediated. If you have ASD and you enter into a marriage, you have to make sacrifices. For the things you can’t do, lay your pride aside and ask God for help if you really care about the other person more than yourself. If you are going to put self-first, you really don’t have the right to enter into a marriage. This goes for anyone who is self-absorbed-aspie or not! If you have enough of a cognitive IQ to make choices and know that your behaviors are affecting others negatively, then you have enough of a mental ability to change. Most people can make choices.

    HJH,

    Thank you for taking the time to read this post and offer your thoughts.

    I do agree there are a lot of variables to someone with Asperger’s syndrome and Autism, much like someone without; there are a lot of variables to each and every one of us. I try to not speak about Autism in general because I don’t have first-hand experience with it. I realize that sounds like denial with the generally accepted blanket term: Autism Spectrum Disorder, but as someone who strongly opposes that term I have to address that first in my reply.

    If you are identifying the term HFA or ASD to simply describe someone with great difficulties navigating social intelligence, then I am in no way trying to conflict with what you are saying.  I would prefer to default to the previously used: Developmental disorder instead as an all-encompassing term until the mental health clowns can come up with something better than eliminates the word “disorder” entirely.  I hold strong that Autism and Aspergers should be teased out because of the damage caused when it is not. I am sure that anyone who had a child with “classic” Autism would have been angry if they deemed all those with social deficits to fall under “Asperger’s Spectrum Disorder” (I know they did not like the term High-Functioning Autism because it was degrading to their child who was thought to be low-functioning). While ASD is just a “label” it has had (and will continue to have) incredibly profound ramifications in how society perceives those who now fall under this broad group.

    I intend on exploring the term “high-functioning” Autism (HFA) in the future in more detail because I think it is an unfair label and it discounts the struggles an individual with Autism or Aspergers experiences in their life. I also strongly suspect that many of those HFA individuals are really Aspies and they need to be pulled from this currently “interchangeable” label.

    Now, on to your thoughts on making conscious choices. I absolutely agree with you that those who have Asperger’s syndrome are capable of making choices. They are capable of changing many things about the behaviors that cause damage within their relationships. Neurotypicals are also capable of making conscious choices to alter the behaviors that are causing damage (even if they do not see them yet).

    The concept of choice is something that causes great pain to both sides because those with cognitive empathy believe those without it, can process information the same. They believe that their partner is able to make the same conscious choices they can. The problem comes with the fact that a person with Asperger’s syndrome cannot consciously choose to use cognitive empathy to identify and use their emotional (affective) empathy. They cannot do this because they do not possess the neurologic capabilities to do so.

    When a neurotypical does utilize cognitive empathy but not very effectively, they can “choose” to pay closer attention to the nonverbal information and messages others are sending them. If they put forth this degree of effort, it is very likely they will improve their emotional empathy and strengthen social relationships. Someone with Asperger’s syndrome does not have the option to just “try harder” or focus more on nonverbal messages. How can they be held accountable for appropriately responding to someone’s emotions if they are unable to identify what those emotions are in the first place? That is simply unfair; it is something we neurotypicals keep demanding and hanging the future of our marriages on.

    I wish everyone understood that Aspies cannot do this. They cannot identify our thoughts, feelings, and emotions unless we tell them what they are! Every time they fail to respond appropriately a neurotypical’s feelings, the NT views it as a lack of effort or regard for them; this is not true.

    You are absolutely correct that emotional (affective) empathy is an inherent gift we are all given (less those with actual brain damage/anomalies and sociopaths). It is just like you said, a seed that requires watering to grow. Consider this: affective (emotional) empathy is the seed. Cognitive empathy is the water. If both sides could grasp this simple analogy, perhaps they could better understand that Aspies need NT’s to show them where the water is. If they cannot read nonverbal messages (and the majority of human communication comes directly from nonverbal means), then they are never going to be able to water the seeds of their emotional empathy.

    Until neurotypicals learn to use direct language to communicate their feelings, wants, and needs explicitly to their Aspie loved one, they can sit back and blame the Aspie all day long for not choosing to “grow” their emotional empathy seedlings and it will still never be the Aspie’s fault. When an NT refuses to believe this, or does not yet realize that the only true (shared) deficit that defines Asperger’s syndrome is absent cognitive empathy, the neurotypicals are essentially thwarting the Aspies access to water. It is never going to matter how much plant food, prayer, or sunlight you throw at that seed; if you don’t give it water, it will never grow!

    To sum up this idea of choosing to “water” the seeds of empathy:  Verbally articulating your wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings directly (without the hidden language we NT’s love to use) is how you provide the water needed for the Aspie’s emotional (affective) empathy to grow and show it to you.

    HJH, you sound like you have been frustrated and hurt by someone who has failed to meet your emotional needs for so long that everything now seems like an excuse? I may be wrong, but that was how I felt for a long time. I kept pushing my husband to TRY HARDER and when he did not, I viewed every rationale for his failure to do this as an excuse. I became angry at the Aspies out there in general for a while. I used to think, “These are highly intelligent people capable of comprehending everything else in their life, so it is complete BULLS#*T to say they can’t comprehend how to treat someone with emotional reciprocity!”

    Aspies are intelligent, they are equal to their neurotypical counterparts in every way except the ability to use cognitive empathy. The inability to use this important method of understanding the nonverbal communication from those around them causes the unjust and hurtful ways they are perceived by peer groups and loved ones. It is the absence of cognitive empathy that leads to the negative impact on intimate interpersonal relationships and it is something those with Aspergers want to avoid when they enter into a relationship.

    Aspies want their relationships to succeed just as much as the neurotypical does.

    You say that people are “excusing the weaknesses” of those with ASD. I am going to once again separate the ASD term and address only Aspergers because I do not want anyone with Autism (of any “spectrum”) to think I am speaking on their behalf. Again, I only write about individuals who have Asperger’s syndrome and their neurotypical loved ones. I passionately oppose the suggestion that Aspies are given excuses or that their neurotypical loved ones ever opt to just “accept” their behavior. I hope that you do not think I am writing this blog in an attempt to offer up an “excuse” as I began it to offer the polar opposite of that. Excuses are made in an attempt to mitigate blame. Blame should be non-existent in an Aspie-NT union. Blame serves no purpose and compounds the profound misunderstanding about causation (cognitive empathy). It causes both parties to incorrectly focus their energy on proving who is at fault in lieu of working toward effective and open communication.

    I cannot say enough times that there is NO blame to be awarded here.

    Very few neurotypicals accept the differing ability to process cognitive empathy that an Aspie has (or I should say, does not have) from their own abilities. In fact, the majority of people are cruel and horrifically judgmental toward those with Asperger’s syndrome and choose to simplify their “inappropriate” social communication as a conscious choice. This misperception causes most of society to fault Aspies, make fun of them, bully them, get angry with them, admonish them, and ultimately… avoid them.

    Cognitive IQ is not the problem, emotional intelligence is. Emotional intelligence is a problem; not because Aspies are incapable of being or becoming more emotionally intelligent, but because they cannot identify the emotions of others easily and truly need the NT in their life to directly state what they are. Once they are told what the emotion is, they are more than capable of understanding and appropriately responding to them (affective empathy). Neurotypicals have just as big a challenge believing someone cannot readily pick up on nonverbal messages (facial expressions, tone/pitch of voice, context of words, body language, etc.) to identify a person’s feelings, emotions, and thoughts as Aspies have believing someone can do this. Aspies may be able to sense extreme emotions radiating from those around them (some to an incredible or even debilitating degree), but they notoriously fail at accurately identifying the source of what caused them, or what the specific emotion even is.

    While it seems like those with Asperger’s syndrome are selfish or only put their own needs first, this is not what they want to do! At this time, I believe that this assumption stands as the greatest difference between a person who has “High-Functioning” Autism and someone with Asperger’s syndrome. Those who rightfully fall under HFA do not have the desire for social interaction that Aspie’s do; they are centrally-focused and are not bothered by their alienation from peer groups.

    Aspies are devastated by the alienation they experience.

    Aspies are internally-focused on self only after they are made to feel like chronic failures in social settings throughout their youth; they never set out to become as isolated and alienated from their peers as they do. Detachment from others is the last thing Aspie children want to experience, they have the exact same desire and need for human interaction and closeness that neurotypicals have.

    With that in mind, it should pull at the heartstrings of anyone (who knows the value of friendship, acceptance, and emotional warmth) to consider that the majority of Aspie children, teens, and adults are grievously deprived of this magnificent human experience throughout their lives.

    When an Aspie and NT fall in love, both are focused on one another equally when the relationship first develops. Men with Asperger’s syndrome are accustomed to being shunned (without a comprehension of why this has always occurred in their life) and they are almost always terrified of losing the woman they have fallen in love with. Having found someone they want to be with more than anything else in the world, these men frequently stand on guard, in a heightened state of arousal that the ground is going to drop out beneath their feet at any moment. These men are not able to open up and let themselves be known fully by their partner because they do not know what it is about them that causes people to run away. They walk on an imagined (but often painful) bed of nails in a desperate attempt to keep the woman they adore from running away from them. These men live in an unrelenting state of fear that they will experience the same rejection they have endured throughout their lives by the woman they now love with all of their being.  By the time they begin to feel whole and finally accepted enough to open themselves up to such vulnerability, they are quickly reminded by their NT mate that they are standing on shaky ground.  This constant reminder (by NT accusations about their “incorrect” behaviors) inadvertently shuts their willingness to be open off in favor of being trepidatious in their future actions and words .

    Between the missed nonverbal messages the NT is sending her Aspie mate and the guarding she senses from him, inevitably she equates it all to a lack of love. The NT wife begins to assign blame toward her Aspie husband and the more she expresses this to him or faults him for not meeting her emotional needs, the more she creates a disconnect. The Aspie husband, fearful of losing his wife, defaults back to the internal focus he needed in his youth to protect him from social rejection and pain.

    If there is anything I can get you to consider in this response, please let it be that someone with Asperger’s syndrome is not self-absorbed by choice. They do not know what to do to fix the relationship any more than the NT who is blaming them does. They do not know what they are doing “wrong” any more than the NT does.

    In a marriage, both partners need to equally commit themselves to one another with the same degree of acceptance, love, and willingness to change. That means the NT needs to learn about cognitive empathy so she can stop misinterpreting her husband’s behaviors as conscious choices to cause her emotional harm. The Aspie husband needs to learn about cognitive empathy and realize that their wife is misunderstanding their behavior, not because they are “crazy, delusional, or overly-emotional,” but because they are receiving false messages from him based on an inherent communication ability that the Aspie never learned, cannot learn, and isn’t really using in the first place.

    Both need to drop the fear from their daily communication and actions and make a conscious choice to open themselves up again as they wanted to do when they first fell in love. Both need to work their asses off to start using actual (unambiguous) words to express their needs and feelings (even when they don’t want to) and be willing to do so without the fear of rejection from the other.

    It all begins with both sides accepting that there is a completely different use of emotional expression and perception taking place because one has cognitive empathy and the other does not. This is a comprehension that (as you said) may take a lot of prayers to God (or whatever someone believes) to be able to accept. It can be done if both parties are equally committed to one another and choose to put the other above themselves.

    While your thoughts are incredibly similar to the ones I held less than a year ago, I hope that you can consider my current opinion on the “choices” most Aspie husbands really have available to them. Until I applied the knowledge that my husband could never “choose” to identify or appropriately respond to my nonverbal messages unless I directly told him what they meant, I was setting both of us up for withdrawal, inappropriate blame, and utter failure.

    Taking the expectation that my husband should choose to “work harder” at deciphering my nonverbal messages off the table was the #1 thing I had to do to begin changing our marriage for the better.  Navigating around his absent cognitive empathy (by learning to utilize my verbal messages at an equal capacity to my nonverbal ones) has been the only tactic uncovered that ever really benefited us.

    There is no other tool needed to begin changing the level of love, emotional empathy, affection, understanding, and appreciation for one another that will ever come close to the importance of utilizing that one.  It is easier said than done, but as mentioned, marriage is about selflessness and commitment and it takes a lot of mutual effort.

    Ultimately, you nailed it when you said, “It comes down to a choice.” It really does. It is just imperative we comprehend what the “choices” really are.  Choosing to learn about cognitive vs. affective (emotional) empathy is the most important choice an Aspie-NT couple has to make if they want to find a happy marriage.

     

    See: WHAT ABOUT ASPERGER’S SYNDROME AND EMPATHY for a clearer understanding of how these different types of empathy impact one another.


  • HOW TO TEACH EMPATHY TO SOMEONE WITH ASPERGER’S SYNDROME part 2-2

    Part 2: You can only teach yourself 

     

    I always wondered what it would feel like to have cameras rolling every day, documenting my life as it played out.  With all of the insanity in our home, I used to tell John that if we had a camera crew following us around, the ratings of our reality show would be through the roof.  I imagined if I ever had that opportunity I would be able to show the world how my marriage was only failing because of John and his behaviors, and that only then, would he feel sorry for the pain he had inflicted on me all these years.  I also thought it would awaken the world to what it is really like for an Aspie-NT marriage and perhaps draw light on Asperger’s syndrome in general. 

                    Since I am no one special and that clearly was not going to present itself as an opportunity for us (I am so lucky it didn’t), I decided to at least create reality tv for John. 

                    The day we purchased the Go-Pro camera and I strapped it to my forehead like a coal-miner, was the day I had to stop pretending it was all his fault. 

                    I had already been dancing around my bedroom singing angry love songs and writing the secrets to a happy life on my walls in the weeks before John and I almost officially called it quits (lost a lot of airline miles on that cross continental flight he never took). I felt empowered when I put that camera on my head.  I felt like I was finally doing something to fix us instead of searching for help that didn’t exist. I felt like I was finally taking action!

                    I was bound and determined to capture everything I experienced in our home and then play it back for John to see.  In the past, when we would fight John would always reflect on the exchange in a completely different manner than I perceived it.  He would deny saying things that I clearly heard him say, or making facial expressions that told me he was annoyed, angry, or not telling me the truth and then tell me I was imagining things.  He would accuse me of being nasty first, or an emotional basket-case.  He would tell me I never told him something that I thought I had clearly stated.  Our conversations would shift from one important topic to a million other small ones that had no bearing on the initial issue.  Asking about what we should do on my day off could easily snowball into how he doesn’t clean the house or I alienate him from my life on purpose and my day off would be spent scouring the internet for help and crying.  Neither of us ever appeared to be on the same page when we did try to talk with one another, so I prayed this personal documentary would help explain why. 

                    At first John was uneasy with the camera rolling and it was evident he was annoyed and wanted me to stop filming.  He spoke with a softer tone and was very selective about his words.  This lasted all of one day.  By the second day he was avoiding me and asking me to take the camera off my head.  After reminding him that he agreed to this and what the alternative was, he stopped asking me to remove it.  I made it clear to him that this camera was going to remain on every minute that I was awake and he and I were interacting with one another.

                    By the fourth or fifth day, the camera was ignored entirely and John and I were having the same blow up arguments and fights we had before he packed his bags.  If you really want to know if your husband is doing things on purpose or can control his behavior… a camera is a sure way to get answers.  Since I believed that John was truly unaware of his behaviors, I knew that after a few days of trying really hard to behave accordingly, he would continue being himself even with the camera rolling.  If someone is really a manipulative and purposeful ass, they will never let it show with a camera in their face.  

                    During the first two weeks of filming, I did not play back a single second of the footage to myself or John.  Since I was in control and knew I would not be showing this to anyone else, I had no difficulty being myself (I forgot it was on so often I would forget to turn it off when I used the bathroom).    

                    After filling up two data cards, John and I sat down one evening to look at some of our interactions with one another.  We went right to the footage of an ugly argument that had led to typical harsh words, yelling, and crying.

                    John, for the first time, was able to hear the way he sounded when he spoke to me and look at his own facial expressions and hand gestures.  He was able to see how he appeared, which was in stark contrast to how he thought he appeared.  This was still not easy for him and I had to point out some of his facial expressions and how I interpreted them at the time.  He was able to point out what he was thinking when he was making those expressions.  I think it really bothered him to see himself in that light and he asked if I could please erase the footage.  He never watched much of it after that evening, as seeing only small bits seemed to be enough for him to realize he DOES respond defensively and with hostility the moment I speak of anything pertaining to emotions… even when they are small things or important things for a husband and wife to be able to talk about or share. 

                    I watched most of the footage over the next week (I kept filming as well during this time).  I was absolutely dumbfounded when I realized I rarely ever use clear words with my husband when I am attempting to communicate something that is important to me.  I use so many hints and colorful descriptions and a ton of other nonverbal methods of communicating.  When I watched that footage I had finally identified that despite being COMPLETELY aware of John’s cognitive empathy deficit, I was still continuously using 90% nonverbal language to communicate overall.  I learned that whenever John tried to speak to me in a calm way, I was often the one to turn the conversation hostile (more than I realized) because I was reading too deep into his nonverbal language and could not process that it was not reflective of what he intended to communicate 90% of the time.

    When John does try to “hear me out,” I interrupt him or start talking a mile a minute every time he is silent for a moment and I try to force the conversation to keep going.  I never gave my husband a chance to try to decipher what was happening “in the moment” so he COULD communicate effectively.  Instead I came at him with machinegun fire dialog that he couldn’t keep up with causing him to instinctively defend himself.  I could have been ranting about wonderful things, but my words came at him so rapidly he couldn’t take them in fast enough to see that I was not attacking him.  With his quick-fire retaliation, I turned any good or meaningful attempts to talk into disaster.  I had no idea I was doing this (in the moment) until I was able to see it for myself.  All those years I thought I was communicating effectively, I realized I was failing miserably.  I had no idea how awful I was in communicating with a man who lacked cognitive empathy and finally understood that without intending to, I was the one causing most of the breakdown.

                    I felt like a real dirtball. 

                    I felt embarrassed. 

                    I apologized the best I could to John, but I don’t think he really understood all of what I was apologizing for.  Armed with this new insight I had to sit down and focus on all of the things I would need to fix if I wanted to effectively communicate with my husband.  This was not an easy thing to do. 

                    The very first step was to take all of the years of anger, frustration, and sadness and put them away to address at a later time.  This meant being willing to start over fresh and pretend nothing had been a failure in the past.  I had to be willing to do this or I was not going to be emotionally prepared to take the baby steps required of me to alter the way I communicated. 

                    Step two:  I had to stop mincing words!  When I did this (and I always did this) they were not getting through.  I also knew I had to learn to walk away.  I am an emotional person and my feelings really did (and still do sometimes) get in the way of ever being heard by my husband. When I was feeling a strong emotion at any time when I was interacting with him, I had to immediately prevent myself from vocalizing them.  I began to walk away and dissect what I wanted to say into the simplest language I could come up with. I had to watch the speed by which I said things, because if I did not, John was going to latch on to the first thing that made sense to him and use that as his focus and gear the conversation back to a place he could participate in (and not in a good way).  I had to learn to suppress my immediate desire to fire back if he didn’t seem to be listening to me, or said something I found hurtful.  Once I had a grip on doing this and found the right words to say, I began to say them… and then immediately walk away.  I would give him time to process what I said.  Within a week of working really hard at this, John began addressing what I said to him shortly after I said it.  In the past, he would never address anything I said and pretend we never spoke.  Mainly, I realized, this occurred because he really had no idea what I was ever trying to say to him so he had no ability to address my words. Eventually John began to acknowledge things I said, tell me how he felt, or that he understood what I was saying, sometimes apologize for inadvertently causing me to feel hurt, and work on resolutions with me. 

    Holy crap… my husband was beginning to show me emotional empathy! 

                    I had to work incredibly hard to not use my body language or facial expressions to send messages to him (I still do).  Of course I continued to use all of those nonverbal means because I do it naturally, but I became aware that they were not assisting in my communication and were effectively useless with my husband without the right words being said.  I had to work even harder at not using any hidden language to communicate.  It took a while to realize I had expended so much energy in the past using hints and indirect means of getting points across when I could have just said them with simple words.  I began to say things like, “I am feeling angry with you right now for A or B” and then say, “Maybe we can talk about it a little later so I won’t feel angry anymore and we can have a good day together?”  Then, you guessed it… I would walk away.  I got my points across without being mean or sarcastic, and I gave my husband time to process them without standing in his face forcing a response.  The more I did this, the sooner he would return to talk to me about things.  My husband never wanted me to be angry or upset, so when I told him I was (with a clear non-accusatory reason) and then offered a solution to fix it, he always took advantage of that opportunity.  My husband never wanted to fight with me all these years, he just did not understand why we were fighting or how he could prevent or fix any of it.  He is not perfect and still irritates the snot out of me, and I’m sure I annoy him as well.  We are still a married couple and are not about to agree on everything or have perfect communication by any means. 

                    Cognitive empathy and nonverbal communication are not functioning abilities for my husband and the moment I began to understand what that meant (and work around it) was the moment things began to improve. 

                    This concept doesn’t seem very difficult, right? 

                    IT IS! 

                    It is beyond difficult to learn to communicate without using nonverbal means. I promise you, even if you think you are doing this… you are not. If you were, you would already be on the road to an improved marriage. I truly believed I was accomplishing this basic means of communication with my husband and he just wasn’t responding appropriately to me. It took watching actual recordings of myself to realize how far from this I was. Even after watching a specific argument or failed attempt to talk with John, I STILL had to go back and watch it several times to pick up on all of the ways I tried to talk to him through nonverbal means. 

    I begin to express how difficult it is for me to learn a new language. I cannot accurately guess how challenging it will be for you to do it. Just as everyone is different when it comes to their capacity to become fluent in one or more foreign languages, everyone will be different with this. 

                    I am not suggesting you are the cause to all of your problems, as I was not the cause to all of mine. The cause was a lack of knowledge about cognitive empathy. With the majority of our communication toward our husbands being nonverbal, or verbal but with a whole lot of words that came out fast and obscure… our husbands weren’t hearing us.  When you compile that over years, you get two people on two different pages with so many misunderstandings and subsequent shitty behavior that everything turns to misery.  You get a wife who feels unacknowledged and unloved and a husband who feels attacked and afraid.  The wife than attempts to communicate with even greater emotion and confused/mixed messages waiting for her husband to just “get it” and the husband builds up more fortified walls and stops all efforts. 

                    Communication is the key to any successful marriage, and quite often, using simple words works to begin fixing NT marriages.  In an NT-Aspie marriage, it is the only way to communicate.  Your husband is not going to suddenly get to know you so well he can pick up on all of the nonverbal ways you communicate, he hasn’t the ability to do so. 

    So you have to make the change. 

                    I still do not know if John is sold on the cognitive empathy theory and he still shows zero interest in discussing it with me.  I am fine with this because it does not matter if he agrees or disagrees with me, or simply does not want to think about it, he is trying now and it doesn’t matter if he comprehends why.  I think to John, I am just being more rational and finally communicating effectively with him.  He likely has no urge to figure out why I am suddenly a happier person, he is just happy with the changes. 

                    Since I am now applying this knowledge daily, I am seeing positive changes in every aspect of our lives.  John is more motivated than he has ever been and I am finding myself more accepting of his quirky behaviors and more encouraging and supportive toward him than I had been.  The better I get at this new method of communicating, the better we get.  He is in a happier marriage because he is finally able to begin talking more and getting a response out of me that shows I care how he feels.  He is willing to approach a conversation if he senses I am upset or angry or he may have inadvertently said or did something that upset me.  Sometimes he overthinks things now because he is finally aware that he does not always come off the way he intends and tries to explain himself (something he did or said) without my saying a word.  He is trying so hard to identify feelings I have before I say anything to him so he can show me he cares and this is something I always prayed for.  Every day that I watch my husband try harder to communicate with me, I feel motivated to try harder myself. 

                    That is how this marriage thing is SUPPOSED to go, right?

                    To date, John and I have not gone back through the years of miscommunication and hurt feelings we both had.  I initially thought I would someday want to hash out all of the years of pain to be able to finally let them go.  A strange thing happened as things began to improve… I began to understand all of the circumstances and instances that led me to be angry and hurt before and they didn’t hurt so bad when I reflected on them.  I no longer saw a cruel and insensitive man who was selfishly and purposely causing me pain.  I stopped feeling the need to address any of the past because I realized they truly were all caused by a series of unfortunate misunderstandings and fear.  With a better means of preventing them from reoccurring, they no longer weighed me down.  We both know we hurt one another, John may still not understand how or why, but he is no longer causing that hurt in me so it doesn’t matter if he ever understands how I perceived things when they were at their worst.  He used to get so angry when I brought up the past and say, “How can I begin to get better if you won’t stop bringing up the past?  I can’t win with you!”  I would then respond that I couldn’t stop bringing up the past because he kept doing the same crap in the present.  Now, the past is in the past for the most part because the worst parts are over.

                    I doubt if your husband is going to agree to the Go-Pro experience, so it may not benefit you to suggest it.  Perhaps if he was willing to read these posts he would see that it served to wake ME up to start changing my ways.  I think the reason we hit a dead end when we try to get our husbands to make changes for the betterment of our marriage, is because everything comes out as blame and finger-pointing in their direction (who wouldn’t want to fight that?).  To be able to tell them (or show them through an example like mine) that the fault is on both ends, as are the solutions, perhaps they would be more willing to entertain the idea of change. Afterall, this is not going to be an easy thing for you to do and your husband will need to be patient with you as you begin to shift the way you communicate; he will need to back off himself when it comes to firing back when you are coming at him with intense emotions.  John was able to do this because he saw the footage of himself, but I imagine it would have been more challenging for me to begin communicating better if he was still dodging all attempts at trying.  If John and I were not truly calling it quits, I doubt if he would have agreed to me filming our daily lives, so don’t be discouraged if your husband says “Hell NO!” to the idea.  It is not easy to wear that sucker on your forehead every day either and it got a little uglier before it got better; I almost hurled that camera at the wall a few times.  Not everyone is in a position like I was, whereby I am the main financial provider for the family and could afford to risk ending our relationship if it came to that.  For my marriage, the camera was a necessary thing because neither of us would have believed our own actions until we had them shoved in our faces (especially me).  It gave us the time out we needed to experience humility and desire a personal change.  That’s the hardest thing about our dynamics… neither of us want to change ourselves, we want to blame the other person for what is going wrong.

                    If you are unable to get a Go-Pro type of reality check, that’s ok.  Try to really become more aware of yourself.  Read everything you can about cognitive empathy and how much of your daily lives are focused around this ability.  Try to put the hurt on hold.  Learn to speak slowly and clearly.  Learn to walk away until you can communicate effectively.  Be patient.  It may take a while for your husband to begin trusting your new method of communicating.  He may be suspicious of your motives at first, or instinctively put his guard up anticipating hostility or a meltdown on your behalf.  He is justified in being leery of your new behavior.  Don’t get discouraged.  Eventually, if you really make an effort at doing this every day… you are going to get a positive response out of him. Even if you think your husband is the most stubborn of all Aspies, I promise this can help.  I still believe John was the very worst example of what can go wrong for an adult Aspie (as far as negative behaviors are concerned) and if you don’t believe me, go back and read some of my other posts (See: WHY AM I SO ANGRY?).  The very first time your husband comes to you to resolve a conflict or try to make you feel better, you are going to have an “Ah Ha” moment and feel a little more inspired to keep trying. 

                    Give it time, and give it your best efforts.  You might be very surprised with the outcome…  I was.

     

     

     

     

     

    This is the size of the camera I actually had strapped to my head for weeks!


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