• Tag Archives help for aspergers marriage
  • ASPIE HUSBAND: WHY IS MY WIFE LEAVING ME?

    WHEN YOUR NEUROTYPICAL WIFE SAYS SHE IS LEAVING YOU… FOR REAL THIS TIME.

     

    As I struggle to get my posts up over the next few months (wrapping up this time-consuming job and moving on to one that affords me time to write); I wanted to share a comment from a reader that is all-too familiar to me.  I receive a lot of personal emails from men (and women) with Asperger’s syndrome who are faced with the reality that they are going to lose the love of their life… their NT-e wife.  Each time I get emails, I read them and place them in a specific grouping so I can ensure my future posts are centered around the important questions we all want answers to. Although I do not currently have the time to write each person back, please know that you are being heard and I will not forget your important story or question as I move forward. 

    This man’s unfortunate (and heartbreaking) situation is one that I have heard often, and since he allowed for others to read his struggle when he commented under the post: ASPIE HUSBAND: WHY AM I SO ANGRY?   I have opted to share his message and address it today, in lieu of having to wait for me to get the time to address his pain down the road. While this is directed toward the man who posted his story, I am responding to all of the men currently standing in his shoes as well. I hope this helps a little…

    Aspie hubby wrote: 

    I read this link sent to me by my wife as she tells me our 27-year marriage is over because she can’t cope anymore and reading this I thought she wrote it, it’s pretty much spot on. But I didn’t realise what I have been doing to her over the years. We have 3 wonderful children had various business’s together and work well, all seems to have taken its toll on our relationship now tho. I feel really bad, I have never had my heart broken before and it’s changed me inside. When you were pre kids you could watch a film and not cry and post kids you can’t help yourself, well the same thing is now happening to me all over again. Starting to grieve the loss of my father who has been gone 16 years at the time. I was sad but never shed a proper tear, now my heart is broken, I can’t stop crying; not just about the relationship but kids cry and it starts me off. This never used to happen, I’d just say man up and get on with it. I still can’t believe this is happening to us after all these years. Financially we are nearly sorted, no mortgage or credit cards, just owe the family a few quid, but we should be enjoying ourselves not splitting up ……….. I think I can now see the error in my ways but I’m not sure it’s repairable anymore. –Sad and lonely aspie hubby.

    (I made a few punctuation changes to help the readers understand the gravity of your personal struggle, I know you were writing from the heart so I hope it is ok that I did this…)

     

    DEAR ASPIE HUBBY:

    Thank you for writing, it means a lot to me for many reasons, but most of all because I know you are not alone.  Your willingness to open-up about something so personal and painful (and with such honesty) is an often-overlooked example of how much those with Aspergers feel and experience the same level of emotional turmoil as those deemed neurotypical.  As you pointed out, you have possessed the ability to “man up” and suppress many of your emotions for much of your life. While you likely thought you were doing the best thing (perhaps for yourself and your family); those emotions always find their way out at some point.  While you (and so many other men in general, including my husband) think it is the proper thing to do (to not show great emotion), most NT-e spouses begin to think that their husband is devoid of the very thing they want to see him openly express. Neurotypicals, especially those with extreme amounts of empathy, communicate with emotions and learn that the absence of them is to be viewed as an absence of care and/or concern for others.

    I believe your comment is going to help many other men and women (Aspie & NT alike) who are struggling to make sense of the painful situation they currently find themselves in.

    When I decided to write this blog, I opted to post on anger before any other topic because my sole intention was to reach out to the women (like myself) who felt ready to pull the plug on their marriage and walk away permanently.  It seemed imperative that I be brutally honest about how hopeless I felt if I was going to get a single woman to believe that things could get better and that they have reason to hang on to that hope a little longer.  When it got closer to the inevitable end I saw on the horizon, I found myself searching things about Aspergers and anger more than any other topic. 

    Anger seems to be the emotion that ignites the drive to act, since sadness and confusion often leave us feeling depleted of energy altogether.  As many men with Asperger’s syndrome come to realize as adults… anger is just easier to use as a mask for all the other emotions that are just too damn painful to confront.  It does not surprise me that this specific post IS the one that receives the most views; what breaks my heart is that all the others fall short of this number by 25-50%.  This tells me that not enough people get to the posts that begin to help make sense of the overwhelming anger, sadness, grief, and hopelessness we are all experiencing.  For this reason, I have placed a link to the post I find most beneficial beneath the post on anger; I hope that helps more people continue reading the optimistic and positive side of the angry world they are currently finding themselves in.  Thank you for bringing this to my attention; I hope that you and your wife managed to find your way beyond this specific post.

     

    HOPE

    I truly believe in the depths of my soul that once anger has solidified itself into the mind of an NT-e spouse, the only thing keeping the door from coming unhinged is her incredibly profound sense of hope. It is this hope that keeps us clinging to a life that causes emotional agony when everything in our marriage (and that society tells us) suggests that our husband cannot possibly love us.

    Hope is always the very last thing to go for an NT-e spouse.  I think the simple fact that your wife sent you this link suggests that she still has hope in her heart. She may not consciously even realize this is the reason she sent it (and I could certainly be wrong), but to me, no woman who has lost all hope would ever waste the effort of sending this link to a husband they have lost hope for. 

    For so many years I tried to get my husband John to read things, to listen to me, or to just acknowledge anything I was saying about the emotional state of mind I was in.  He had an automatic shield up toward the information I tried to force on him; information that I believed could benefit our relationship.  John never once appeased me in my efforts.  He did not read anything I wrote him, or open a single email with links to webpages or articles I thought were beneficial.  He did not ever appear to consider the things I suggested worthy of his time, nor did he ever listen long enough to hear the message I was attempting to convey.  A message I now realize I was articulating in the wrong manner (but that is another post).

    Had I been 100% resolved to walk away from him forever; the last thing I would have done is set myself up for a final blow of disappointment by sending him another email, letter, or text he could ignore. I would not waste another shred of my own dignity to allow for hope that he would suddenly take interest in something he had proven unimportant throughout our relationship… not if my mind was cemented in leaving the marriage. Doing so would only cause me further agony when I had to accept (once again) that he was disinterested in my feelings and our future. It seems to me there must exist a small bit of hope in your wife’s heart if she sent you this link; it suggests that she had some hope remaining that she could still “reach you” one last time… to have you finally acknowledge how she feels. 

    I could be wrong… but I don’t think I am.

     

    When hope exists… so too does the opportunity to turn things around.

     

     

     HOW DO YOU TURN THINGS AROUND?

    This is an incredibly complex task that begins with two people emotionally separating from one another so they can begin to work on personal changes and their own inner-feelings and desires first. Since no one wants to hear something like that (it’s too fucking scary to even think of and many professional therapists would recommend the opposite), I will tell you what I believe will keep hope alive primarily, so that the other changes have the potential of being realized in time. 

    To me (and I welcome others to chime in), the #1 thing I wanted from my husband (first) was for him to begin reflecting on the ways I had been hurt and acknowledge them after so many years of feeling disregarded. I didn’t want him to just say he “was sorry” or that he “acknowledges things now.” In fact, every time he told me he was sorry, or that he “got it,” it never held much weight because he would not point out a single example of what it was that he “finally got.”  So, I wanted him to point out examples of things he said or did (even if completely unintentional), tell me he could now see my perspective, share that he could now understand how those actions or words could cause me to feel sad, or angry, or alone, or disrespected, etc. Then I wanted him to tell me he was sorry and that he was hell-bent on learning how to prevent me from ever feeling that way in the future.  I didn’t need him to list everything he could think of from previous fights, I simply wanted him to give me a few real examples he recalled.  To me, this was the only way I could know for certain he was not just saying words to appease me; that he truly could consider another perspective (mine), and that he was finally open to working together to make things better in our future.

     

    EVEN THOUGH IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT… IT IS 

    You must understand that even though you NEVER intended to cause your wife hurt and never maliciously did anything to make her feel the way she does today… your actions DID cause her incredible pain… and that pain was as real as the pain you are in today.  When all her feelings went unacknowledged, the aching she experienced was as though the one person she should trust above all others, the only person she wanted to be that connected to… that person betrayed her.  When someone feels that level of abandonment from the person they love the most, there is a cataclysmic storm of emotions that linger and shift back and forth from that moment on… day after day. Even if you could not always see that tornado of emotion in her day to day interactions with you, they were always present just beneath the surface of every smile, happy moment, or close periods of intimacy or shared activity you had together.  While you may have thought that she had moved past whatever fight or discussion that had her distressed the previous day, she had not; what she did was bury that tornado beneath a layer of hope that things would be better tomorrow. When tomorrow brought forth the same feelings of betrayal, all her emotions got compounded as though that tornado picked up more debris along it’s destructive path.  The only way to stop it from wreaking havoc on the future would have been to acknowledge, discuss, and resolve each event as it occurred.   

    In a way, you are already giving examples of what your wife has been toiling with for so long.  You mentioned how you are beginning to feel the grief you had repressed regarding your own father’s death (I am so sorry for your pain).  That overwhelming feeling you are experiencing in acknowledging both the loss of your father and the impending loss of your wife… that is eerily similar to the type of overwhelming grief your wife was experiencing every day.

    How is it the same if she was not experiencing a loss at those times? 

    She was.

    For all those years…

    your wife was grieving the loss OF YOU.

     

    She was grieving the loss of the man she fell so deeply in love with, grieving the loss of the life she had envisioned, and grieving the loss of herself, as she had unintentionally abandoned the woman she once was amid her desperate attempts to reach you and salvage your family. 

    How is it different from what you are currently experiencing?

    The difference is, she did not have the chance to heal from or even compartmentalize the pain she felt (like you learned to from a young age), because you were always right there beside her to remind her of all that was lost… day after day.  Every day that she was grieving, you stood beside her and failed to rescue her from her own fear and pain; you unintentionally kept it all fresh and current by ignoring that any of her pain was even real.

     

    TILL DEATH DO US PART 

    If you were to compare your wife’s turmoil to that of losing a loved one to death, it is incredibly similar. Your wife felt like the man she fell in love with was no longer alive, that he had died and she could not make sense of his death. When it first happened (when you first began to emotionally put up barriers) that loss was profound and it devastated her down to the core in a way she did not ever recover from. Every time she felt a bit of love from you by way of words, actions, or emotional intimacy, it was as though you had risen from the dead and she had what everyone wishes for… another day with the person they loved who had died.

    The enormity of that feeling.. that you had returned from a place she thought was permanent, to remind her of everything she thought she had lost; was more intense than she could have put into words. With that complete elation in having the love of her life reappear before her, came the unnerving sense of fear that he would leave and she would have to be alone in her grief once again.

    Can you imagine how euphoric a person would feel if they thought their loved one was dead, began to endure the process of grieving their loss, only to have that person reappear out of nowhere? It would alter the person’s perception of reality on a grand scale, wouldn’t it?

    When you returned to the same emotionally unavailable man the following day, after reminding her of why she had fallen in love with you initially, it was as though you had disappeared again. She had to suffer the same impact of traumatic loss and sadness again from square one. The problem for your wife was that you continued to abandon her emotionally and then pop in for random emotional visits intermittently throughout your marriage. It truly felt as though you kept repetitiously dying on your wife; only to reappear suddenly for a brief visit, long enough to ensure her pain could never subside.

     

    No human is equipped to withstand the constant shift from grief to hope for a long duration without compromising their own state of mental and physical health. 

     

    Your wife was never able to identify what made you shift between showing her the love she desired and abandoning her moments later, so she kept begging you to help her understand what was happening. Since you never identified that your unwillingness to openly communicate about feelings or emotions (at all) was causing your wife to grieve your loss all those years, you failed to see what you were actually putting her through. 

    The more your wife begged of you to listen to her, talk to her, identify why you were so guarded, or just show her the side of yourself that she had fallen in love with… the more you closed the door in her face. It was like you rose from the dead but the moment she tried to tell you she was afraid you would die again, you did.

    I understand that the analogy of your willingness to communicate and show affection toward your wife and the death of a loved one (who suddenly returned for short visits) may seem dramatic and a little ridiculous to you. When emotions are involved (particularly those that come from losing a loved one), the grief process is the same even if the person has not died. Your wife loved you so deeply when she committed to you and you allowed her to see who you were on the inside. That was the man she intended to spend the rest of her life with. When you put up defensive barriers that effectively withheld your emotional self, she was left feeling like you disappeared and she grieved like hell over you. Every time she thought she was ready to accept her loss and move beyond her grief, she would get glimpses of that man she first met and she would have hope in her heart. This cycle viciously repeated itself throughout the duration of your relationship and that emotional exhaustion is the reason your wife is now telling you that she has had enough. 

    She tried to explain this to you for many years (no doubt), but her words never articulated what she was experiencing because they seemed as dramatic as the analogy I have given (because they were to her). When she reached out to you and you dismissed her pain, you inadvertently caused it to continue and manifest into more discomfort as each day passed.  

     

    THIS IS HER REALITY

    Because your wife identified with my post enough to send it to you, I have little doubt that she felt entirely abandoned in the way I am describing.  Over time, that sadness and confusion transforms into resentment and anger and the tornado of despair grows stronger and more destructive to her sense of security and self.  Mixed into all the negative emotions she was dealing with (and trying to repress), there existed those good days, positive memories, and a continued feeling of love for you… which gave her hope.  Hope you would suddenly wake up and see what she was going through; she had hope that if she just weathered the storm a might bit longer, your family and marriage would awaken to a rainbow and blue skies one day.

    That is a very toxic mix of rapidly shifting emotions to endure day after day, year after year.  It is particularly hard to handle them when the only thing she had to cling to was that there existed one person who could not only shield her and the family from the storm, but lead them all into a place with calm clear skies.  But you never did.  Eventually she began to resent you for not saving her, and eventually she decided she had to get herself out of the storm’s path if she wanted to come out alive.

     

    I DON’T BLAME YOU

    My husband always told me that he would be more than happy to comfort me when I was upset, but if I was blaming HIM for causing my distress (when he knew he did nothing intentional to cause it), he refused to pretend he cared about my feelings.  He said that while he loved me, he found it very easy to detach from me emotionally the moment I chose to blame my negative feelings directly on him.  All the years I was begging for him to save me, to save us, he believed I was creating my own misery and he felt zero accountability for it.  While neither John nor myself were ever really to blame for my misery (a diagnosis that was poorly understood was), he put up walls between my expressions of frustration, sadness, and anger.  If he got the slightest hint I was going to direct any of my tears toward him, those walls went up immediately and he left me to suffer alone. He left me to suffer alone, never realizing he was the only one who could rescue me from it.    

    There was no way around the inevitable demise of our marriage without the willingness on both of our behalves to acknowledge that, sometimes we hurt one another unintentionally because we are not perceiving the same reality as it is unfolding.  So long as both parties blamed the other for the disconnect, there could be no bridging the communication gaps and misunderstandings that caused our mutual misery.

    I understand that the incredible pain your wife has endured may still seem unwarranted or unfair for you to have to go back and take any responsibility for. I understand that you love her and that you never set out to cause her even a small amount of discomfort and that it might even seem like your absence of intention should be enough for her to move forward without residual resentment.  I understand that you never even knew she was suffering so profoundly each day and that it hardly even seems real to you.  Believe me, every bit of her anguish was real to her… and that is truly all that should matter to you now. 

    I don’t blame you if you tuned out or erected walls to keep her emotions distant from you the same way my husband did. I can appreciate that when we (NT-e wives) claim that our Aspie husbands are hurting us, or that they do not love us, when they KNOW THEY DO… it is easy to dismiss such “nonsense” and not give any attention to a claim that you know is not true.  When your wife goes from telling you she is unhappy or miserable while crying or yelling out, and then awakens the following day with a smile and acts as though the pain of yesterday is forgotten… it is completely rationale that you began to consider most of her internal discomfort to be imagined or self-induced. Despite the times you thought she appeared perfectly content and perhaps even happy, she was not either of those things beyond the surface of what you saw.  She was balancing a million emotions that were breaking her heart and trying to cling to anything positive that could keep her hope alive.

     

    UNFORTUNATE WAY TO EXPERIENCE EMOTIONAL EMPATHY  

    Think about how much you are hurting today or how sad and deflated you felt inside when you posted your comment above.  Now, try for a moment to imagine what it would be like if you experienced THAT level of emotional discomfort coming at you in waves every single day (for decades). What do you think that would do to you as a person?  How long do you think YOU could withstand that degree of pain?

    Now, imagine all the moments you felt such incredible emotional discomfort… your wife held the power to not only take that pain away from you, but she had the power to also prevent any more of it from piling on top of you. Imagine knowing that despite having the absolute power to heal you and make your hurting stop… she chose to ignore that you were even in pain. What if she told you that you were creating all of it in your own broken mind, or that you were so annoying with your expressions of discomfort and pleas for help that she put a wall up and walked away from you the moment she thought you might start complaining about it again? Imagine what it would feel like to be crying in emotional agony and know that your wife was in the next room resting comfortably without any regard for the suffering you were enduring. What if instead of ignoring your pain, she chose to become angry and defensive with you the very instant you tried to tell her how you felt? 

    It might be very difficult for you to have imagined that scenario in the past… but I am willing to bet it probably DOES feel that way to you right now, doesn’t it? You are in pain, you are overwhelmed with emotions that you do not enjoy, and your wife has the power to take them all away and make you feel safe, loved, and like you are not alone.  But she isn’t giving you that level of acknowledgement and she won’t even accept that your feelings matter to her now… because she has detached from YOU in an attempt to protect herself from further discomfort. 

     

    IT ISN’T FAIR

    I hope you have read the other posts I have up about why men with Aspergers put up walls and detach from uncomfortable emotions the way they do.  I hope some of them have assisted in identifying how your childhood and young adult years enabled your ability to repress strong emotions (like the loss of your father).  When men (and women) with un-diagnosed Aspergers grow up in a world that is socially unjust and they are made to feel as though their thoughts, actions, and words are always going to be perceived as negative by those around them… they put up walls.  Some men become very defensive the moment they feel like someone is going to criticize them, some choose to avoid the potential for that attack by avoiding communication that could potentiate emotions altogether… some men (most), do both. 

    You got a raw deal growing up in a world that did not comprehend that your brain processed nonverbal communication in a remarkably different way than the majority.  You are not at fault for the coping mechanisms you created because of this, not even a little.  You had no other option than to adopt methods of emotionally protecting yourself from social isolation or pain; it was truly a survival instinct. Your past reluctance to emotionally connect and/or communicate with your wife is not something you knew how to identify or prevent. You did what you instinctively learned was safe and that is not something that warrants self-blame.

     

    The thing is…

    Now you know.

     

    Now you know that you built defensive/protective coping mechanisms that kept your wife at a distance from you emotionally, and now you know that it was that emotional distance that caused her such profound internal suffering all of these years.  

    Now you have the opportunity to change those things.  Now you can go back to the memories from your youth and identify why you had to build that wall between yourself and the emotions of those close to you.  It takes time to do this, it is NOT going to be easy, and you are going to have to be ready to grieve a hell of a lot more pain in this process (likely buried very deep for you). 

    You have already begun changing. Your eyes have already begun to open to a new perspective. You can change the confusion you had growing up and all of the self-preserving behaviors that sprung from it the moment you choose to.

    If you choose to continue on the same path you were on that led your wife to suffer and your marriage to be in jeopardy; that is up to you as well. In the past, the blame directed at you was without merit. If you choose to continue without making personal changes to better your future, it will be entirely your own fault.

     

    You don’t have to be afraid of taking a new path because you have proof that you weren’t alone on the last one.

     

     

    It isn’t going to be easy to step forward into the unknown, and for a while, you may have to walk this path alone. You can do this. You can do this because you have proof that you did not actually need those defensive walls for the last 27 years. In fact, those walls were actually preventing you from having the life you so desperately wanted and worked hard to create. You have 27 years of proof that despite all of your fears, you had a woman who loved you so selflessly, she remained by your side in lieu of the pain it caused her. For 27 years you were so valued, wanted, and important to your wife that she sacrificed everything she could, including her own emotional well-being, in a determined attempt to break all of those unnecessary walls down. You were THAT LOVED.

    I am sure if you could get a “do-over” you would begin your relationship without the walls you thought you needed to keep her all those years. Hopefully you can (or will soon) realize that not a single one of the coping mechanisms you adopted in your youth contributed to the love and hope your wife had with you. In fact, it was almost certainly the brief moment that you abandoned your fears and took a risk of rejection, opening yourself up to being vulnerable, that your wife fell in love with you. If only you had kept yourself open when fear began to creep into your relationship; you would likely have left those defenses behind long ago and you would be in a marriage full of happiness, emotional reciprocity, and the intimacy you both deserve today. You never needed to bury your feelings with your wife because obviously… she would have just loved you more if you hadn’t. That was all she wanted from you all these years… to be open with her and to allow her to be open with you. But you didn’t know all of this before.  

    Now you do.

     

    SHE KNOWS YOUR PAIN   

    I never want to discount the pain that a single Aspie husband has endured.  The gravity of what you have been through is beyond words; it was horrific and it was unfair.  In a completely unintentional (and sadly ironic) way, your wife has now felt first-hand, everything you endured growing up. Without malice or intent, you accidentally put her through a very similar experience and felt caught off-guard when she wanted to put a wall up to protect herself from you.

    How?

    You inadvertently taught your wife that her feelings and thoughts were invalid. You inadvertently taught your wife that she would be blamed for any misunderstanding or negative outcome felt with communication. You inadvertently taught your wife that she did not matter, she was wrong, she was crazy, she was seeing reality in a distorted way, and that she could not even trust those she loved the most to understand her. You inadvertently made your wife feel broken and like she was an alien in your world. You inadvertently caused your wife to withdraw from socializing for fear of being judged and you inadvertently made your wife feel like no matter what she did, it would be perceived as wrong. You inadvertently caused your wife to endure the same feelings of alienation, isolation, and rejection that you experienced throughout your life.

     

    You were watching a replay of your own childhood…

    Only this time…

    Your wife got play you.

     

    God knows you would have never knowingly put your wife through the same horrific experience and feelings you had to fight your way through… right? 

    If you can truly begin to make sense of what I am saying and you want more than anything to have another chance with the woman you love… it begins with your own willingness to dig deep and begin uncovering the misunderstandings and pain that made you hide behind the walls that kept your wife at a distance all these years. It’s about acknowledgement and the honest desire to change behaviors that are no longer needed.

     

    FEAR OF LOSS IS THE CATALYST FOR CHANGE  

    Every day it is becoming more evident to me that changing a dynamic like ours, the Aspie-NT-e union, often comes on the heels of near ruin. It sucks that it takes the threat of such collapse to open our eyes to the alternate reality that has been running parallel to our own throughout the marriage, but it usually does.

     

    “YOUR THOUGHTS ARE NOT REALITY; WHAT IS HAPPENING AROUND YOU IS REALITY.”

     

    There is a simple reason that both sides fail to make the necessary changes it takes to prevent this common situation from occurring and it hinges on how we perceive reality.

    My husband John said the above quote to me one night when I was in tears trying to explain to him how much emotional pain I was in. I was begging for him to understand how miserable I felt inside and he was determined for me to see that I was creating my own misery (in my mind) and that none of it was actually “real.” John was not miserable, so my reality did not make sense to him. In response to John that night I cried, “This is REAL to me and therefore, should become real to you real fast! If you wait until this becomes the reality happening around you, it will be too late to stop it for both of us!”

    What I was trying to tell John is that it doesn’t matter if he can understand why I am experiencing pain that he cannot see, or how he could have caused emotional distress when he did not intend for it to occur… it didn’t matter if he was experiencing no pain himself personally… the only thing that mattered was that I WAS experiencing it, and his willingness to acknowledge it as valid was the only way he could help pull me out of it. Regardless of the reality John could tangibly identify, his reality was going to be transformed into the reality I was experiencing eventually if he kept ignoring it.

    Because of the mentality that my husband had (where reality was only what he could see and experience himself), he declined to consider an alternate one that could have prevented many years of unnecessary pain for his wife.

    It is that same thought process that leaves many Asperger husbands in shock and confused when their wife leaves them “suddenly.” Despite all of the NT-e wife’s desperate attempts to prevent the end of her marriage, until she makes it a tangible reality for her husband, he is not likely to care about feelings he is not experiencing. Unfortunately, by the time this tangible reality is happening around him, it might be too late to begin caring about his wife’s perception of reality enough to get the love of his life back.

    Very few NT-e/Aspie couples are living in the same reality; they are more likely to exist in two alternate realities that run parallel to one another. This is not an existence that a highly empathetic neurotypical can withstand without incredible sadness (even if she doesn’t understand why, she knows this is happening), and this is not an existence the Aspie husband even recognizes is present.

     

    Ok, so why IS IT HAPPENING then?

     

    These alternate realities occur because the NT-e spouse fails to understand that her husband cannot, and will not ever hear her words if they come by way of nonverbal messages. In his reality, this form of communication does not readily exist. The Aspie spouse fails to consider that there even is an alternate reality his wife is fully engulfed in.

    The big difference is that the NT-e wife is trying desperately to comprehend her husband’s world, while the Aspie husband doesn’t even see that such a concept could exist. For example, most NT-e women are highly in-tune with the emotions of those around them. She may be completely out of sync with her spouse’s specific emotions, but she is still fully aware they exist and that he is withholding feelings from her (provided they are not just fleeting thoughts). If her husband is angry over something and it lingers with him for a while, say a day or two, she is going to (without question) readily identify that her husband is “upset” and not sharing his thoughts with her. She may not have a single clue as to “why” her husband is upset, but she knows he is. If he denies it or remains reluctant to share with her, she feels unimportant, confused, and completely detached from the man she loves.

     

    She wants in on his reality!

     

    She wants in, because she loves him. He thwarts her attempts to open the very dialog that would help create emotional trust and intimacy between the two. There are few words to explain the level of hurt this causes the NT-e wife; it makes her acutely aware that her husband is living in a parallel reality to her own.

    This same NT-e wife will walk around sending nonverbal messages that she is upset for weeks and make some of them so obvious, it seems impossible that her husband could be missing ALL them. The Aspie husband may pick up on some pronounced behaviors or actions she makes, like throwing her clothing around in her closet, or scoffing under her breath so loud he cannot help but hear it… but he is still incredibly unlikely to pick up on the fact that this same underlying emotion has been ongoing for his wife for a long time. He is even less likely to confront his wife on the reason for her odd behaviors because he is fearful of her reason. He has become programmed to believe that any odd behavior means he is about to be blamed or criticized for something… and that is NOT a conversation he will willingly send an invite to.

    To the NT-e wife… her husband doesn’t give a damn about her feelings, nor does he give a damn about letting her into his personal bubble so she can understand him better. She has no idea that 98% of the communication she is reading and sending (day in and day out) is not visible to him in the slightest bit. The NT-e wife spends days, weeks, or even months feeling emotionally abandoned, while her husband continues on with his day oblivious to the fact that there’s another reality running parallel to his own.

    It is not until the NT-e wife is ready to walk out the door for good, that most husband’s with Asperger’s syndrome are willing to consider their wife’s perception of reality. If and when the Aspie spouse does open his eyes to his wife’s perspective on their interpersonal dynamic; you can bet he will be caught off guard at how dramatically it differs from his.

    We spend our whole lives convinced that our take on reality is the right one and we utilize every coping mechanism learned along the way to solidify that reality into cement. It takes a hell of a lot to get anyone (Aspie or NT) to look in the mirror and reflect on their words, behaviors, and/or actions long enough to consider that what they intended to communicate… may have been delivered so poorly on their behalf, that they unintentionally sent out some horrifically contradicting messages to the receiver on the other end. 

     

    Your inability to see your wife’s reality does not mean that is doesn’t exist.

     

    WHAT NEXT? A THING CALLED TIME AND SPACE

    You are in a place where you can begin to identify and accept the reality that your wife has been living in and allow it to manifest emotional empathy for her… that is what she needs. Your wife may not be ready or even willing to identify how to communicate without using nonverbal means so that you can hear her in the future.

    I can only suggest to you that you give your wife time; give her space. If her mind is made up, you are not going to change it by trying to force your way back into her life. Until you really work on your own past and uncover the reasons you put up walls, any attempt at reaching out to her will likely cause those walls to get thrown right back up the moment your internal warning bell sounds that you are under attack. Because your wife has reached the end of her emotional rope, it is likely every word she says to you in the immediately future will initially come across as exactly that… an attack.  

    When you are facing a potentially intense dialog like this in the aftermath of her decision to reclaim her emotional and physical health; it would be near-impossible for you to show her you can change… not when the odds you will default to your instinctive defenses are so incredibly high. If your wife does not yet understand why you behave the way you do, or realize there is zero ill-intention behind any of your words and actions… she is not going to be able to communicate with you in a way that enables your guard to drop enough to show her you have and will continue to change for her sake and the sake of your marriage.

    I understand that this is not the immediate fix a desperate Aspie husband will want when he is terrified of losing his wife, but that’s just the reality of our difficult dynamic.

     

    DON’T BE AFRAID

    You don’t need to live in fear, your wife still loves you. It is not for a lack of love that any woman would willingly suffer in a marriage that made them feel alone for so long. It is definitely not a lack of love that causes the majority of neurotypical wives to leave their Aspie husbands either… it is a loss of hope.

    As I said before, the fact that your wife sent you a link to my blog is an indication that she still has hope. If she still has hope, you have nothing at all to lose by allowing her to have the space and time she needs to remember why she fell in love with you, why she put herself through so much pain trying to remain by your side, and why you are worth the effort it will take to create a happy marriage in the future (together). Try to trust in the love she has clearly evidenced over the years and give her space while you work on yourself. 

    I would be remiss if I did not point out that while you have a whole lot of work to do on your end, it is your wife that holds the burden of learning a new language that is entirely foreign to her. Without cognitive empathy, you are not going to be able to do much to change the way you receive information from her, so that means she has to learn to deliver it in a completely new way that opposes everything she learned in life… it will not come natural to her and it will be incredibly challenging if she chooses to go down this road. Of course, this road is the only one that can bridge the communication gap you have had throughout your marriage.

    If you trust in what I am telling you, then trust that the most important thing you can do is change the way you respond to her when she is learning to speak in a foreign dialect. In other words, she is going to struggle to say things in plain English without the use of nonverbal communication and she will get frustrated and she will get angry that you cannot just understand her natural means of communicating. You will need to be patient, kind, open, and present through all of her attempts to learn this new method or she will abandon her efforts faster than you can imagine. In order to be all of those things for her, you have to go back to the drawing board and figure out how and why you meet interpersonal dialog with feelings of defensiveness. You cannot be defensive, argumentative, or dismissive of your wife’s attempts to communicate openly with you or you will lose her again. Having promised her to work on change and swearing that you empathize with what she has gone through… if you fuck it up and give her reason to think she was betrayed by you again… you won’t get her back the next time.

    Since we are all human and prone to error, you are going to fuck up and so is she, many times in your future. I am not suggesting you become some perfect husband who never allows for negative emotions or feelings to be expressed, not at all. What I am saying is that you can almost guarantee failure if you come at this marriage without taking a significant amount of time for yourself first; so you can work on identifying what it is you need to change. You can also almost guarantee failure if your wife opts to return to you and she has not accepted that you cannot utilize cognitive empathy. She does not have to be perfect in her attempts at removing nonverbal dialog to get messages across to you, but she does need to acknowledge that without including the verbal side appropriately, you are paralyzed to respond to her needs effectively and cannot be faulted for failing to meet her expectations.

    It is a lot to take in and I cannot cover it all in this post. What I want to leave you with is that it would actually be in your best interest to find a way to enable your wife the space she deserves. It is imperative she reclaim her sense of self to decide out of love (not guilt obligation, or fear) that she wants to spend the rest of her life with you. Allow for time apart so you can find your way back to the life you want together.

     

    NO REGRETS

    It doesn’t matter how long you have been married or how old you are, you still have the potential for many years of happiness together. Just as you shared, these years should be the best years of your life together, not the end of them.

    I do not believe that the length of our marriages depicts our chances at success, nor do I believe that our physical age determines our capacity for emotional growth. I have worked with the eldest of our society and can promise you… many have tales of finally “getting it” in their last years of life. These same (men) often report these years to be the happiest, even in their late 70’s. The only regret I consistently heard from such men was that they wish they had abandoned their stubborn defiance to change decades earlier… when they could have enjoyed many more years of happiness with the woman they loved (some of whom died too soon after they opened their eyes).   

     

    None of this is going to be easy.

    Life isn’t easy and you know this.  

     

    Your wife gave you 27 years of effort and willingness to change herself in any way she could think of to benefit your future together. Neither of you may have understood what was preventing those efforts from being effective during those years and that is understandable (unfair that it is that way for most Aspie-NT-e marriages… but understandable).

    There is zero reason to ever look for blame and every reason to abandon the idea that it is either of your fault things have gotten to the place they are today. It is your turn to give back the effort and willingness to change that your wife gave you for so long. It is time to begin changing the way you allow for open communication to occur with all of the people you value most. It is your turn to place the same level of faith in yourself that your wife had in you for nearly three decades. It is time to begin removing the ineffective and/or damaging coping mechanisms you learned when you had no other options.  

    You are not your past and you have options now. You have the absolute capacity to transform your future into one of happiness if you are willing to do some serious reflection on the past. The best way to do this is to educate yourself on cognitive and emotional (affective) empathy so that you can go back and begin making sense of everything that was misunderstood or went wrong before today.

    Don’t do this just do get your wife back, do it for yourself and for your children. There is a very good chance the woman you love will be waiting on the other side of your personal journey. She has already evidenced how long she was hanging on to the hope that you would do exactly that.

    Perhaps your wife will not ever understand on her own what caused the pain she experienced and you will be able to help her make sense of it in the future, so she can feel safe and at peace with the past enough to let the pain go. I would never recommend you try to strong-arm your way back into your wife’s life, but I will say that there is not an NT-e alive who would ignore a heartfelt letter from the man she loves, regardless of her intention to return to the marriage. With that being said, as you find yourself becoming more aware and growing both emotionally and in a way that enables you to break down some of the walls you built to keep other’s emotions at bay in your life… it wouldn’t hurt to take the time to write an email to your wife and share these things with her. It may not bring about the responses you want right away, but sharing this part of yourself can only help her begin trusting that you are empathizing with her and that you are not going to return to the same distant man who unintentionally caused her so much hurt. 

    Even if your story does not end with the two of you being together as husband and wife until death, you still hold the power to help your wife heal from the pain she has endured; you hold the power to give her a chance at happiness.

    Look around the internet for a while. It won’t take long for you to realize that there are countless neurotypical women who divorced their Aspie spouse and are still living in the same state of misery they felt the day they walked out the door. Divorce doesn’t answer the lingering confusion over how a love so good, turned so bad. Divorce doesn’t erase the love that was present and still exists long after the person is gone. Divorce doesn’t heal the residual pain that still chips away at the core of these women every day, and it definitely doesn’t make them feel stronger or more emotionally stable then they were when they left.

    It was love that brought most Aspie/NT-e couples together and it was a whole lot of miscommunication and misunderstandings coupled with fear that drove them apart. The only way to recover from the grief and guilt is to make sense of what occurred and to forgive each other and yourselves for something that was out of your control at the time.

    Asperger’s syndrome is nothing more than a cognitive difference in the way two people process nonverbal information… something that should be so simple to overcome if it is known early on… it becomes a hellish existence when no one understands what it means.

    It is not anyone’s fault. Nothing that happened yesterday is going to define your potential for happiness tomorrow. Give yourself a chance at change so you and your wife can be happy… even if you do not end up together. 

    I know from experience how terrifying it is to welcome change when we are already well-into our adult life, but I urge you to consider it. You don’t have to tell the same story of how you had an epiphany in your later years that you wish you were open to discovering when you still had so many years of potential happiness ahead of you.

     

    What do you have to lose when you already feel like you have lost the most important thing in your life?

     

     

     

    If you haven’t already done so, please read THIS POST on Asperger’s syndrome vs. Antisocial Personality Disorder. It is the first and most important one I have to begin explaining the difference between cognitive and emotional (affective) empathy. 


  • ABUSIVE ASPERGER HUSBAND: WHY SHOULD I KEEP TRYING?

    YOU SHOULDN’T

    (For real… consider this)

     

    I want to give a fair disclosure to every neurotypical wife reading this bog and everything I write in support of an Aspie-NT marriage:

     

    YOU DO NOT DESERVE TO BE VERBALLY OR EMOTIONALLY ABUSED AND IT IS PERFECTLY OK AND HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED YOU LEAVE IF HE DOES NOT ACCEPT THIS!

     

    It should not come as a surprise that I want to address the topic of abuse in an Aspie-NT marriage if you have read any of my initial posts.  There are many married men with Asperger’s syndrome who are predominantly soft spoken, gentle, and more submissive than the “common” depiction of an Aspie husband found online. These men tend to be less apt to marry and/or end up in a high-conflict marriage to an NT-e so they rarely get acknowledged.  The majority of Aspie husbands out there have difficulty regulating their emotions and a large percentage of them utilize anger predominantly as a means to cope with interpersonal communication they find challenging (See: WHY IS HE SO ANGRY?). Of these “angry” men, many of them cross the line from inappropriate anger to verbal and/or emotional abuse.  

    This post is not about the common defensive mechanism of anger, it is about the cross-over into truly inexcusable and intolerable words and actions that need to be immediately addressed before an NT wife can even broach the topic of anger in general. It is necessary to cover this horrible and all-too-common step into damning behavior because we are not dealing with one fight in our marriage that spiraled out of control and got ugly, we are dealing with chronic misunderstandings that can make fighting and destructive behaviors the norm which becomes an incredibly dangerous place for both the Aspie and NT to exist in. 

    Some behaviors that I consider worthy of tolerating while you work on a new level of understanding one another, and a new method of communicating are listed under “emotionally abusive” behaviors.  These include things like, withholding, gaslighting, and stonewalling/ignoring.  While these actions hurt both parties (on an emotional level) they are actually necessary as your Aspie husband works through his defensive coping mechanisms and are going to have to be understood and patiently worked “tolerated” for a little while.  You cannot change all poor-coping behaviors before a person comprehends why they developed them.  You may need to let down your feelings of personal attack as you work on changing and fixing communication between you both.  With that being said… there are others… that are simply unacceptable for ANY REASON.

    No doubt there has been a torrential flood of cruelty hurled at you for a very long time.  No doubt there has been incredibly unfair roles in the marriage whereby you felt like a mother to a defiant and nasty teenager who did not appreciate you.  No doubt you have tried damn-near everything in your human capacity to be good to your husband, kind to your husband, understanding, empathetic, loving, selfless, supportive, and incredibly patient.  No doubt all of your effort fell on deaf ears and what you received in return was painful, indifferent apathy.  No doubt you have had things thrown at you, disgusting and unforgivable words screamed at you, gone days or weeks without being acknowledged, or maybe even spit on (as I have been), or physically assaulted.

    There are a million and one reasons to leave this man who has treated you in a way that no one deserves to be treated, especially by their husband.

    There is only ONE reason to stay (and sorry, love is not enough).  That is if he is willing to agree to NEVER again do the inexcusable and disgusting abusive behaviors I will outline below.

    It is NOT ONLY “ok” to say you have had enough and want to leave…

    It’s perfectly understandable and you do not deserve to feel guilty for choosing that option.

    While I am an advocate for changing this awful NT-Aspie dynamic, I will NEVER suggest you stay with a man who is not interested in learning about himself, how to treat you the way you deserve, or who thwarts all of your efforts and justifies his unacceptable behavior.

    Just because a man has Asperger’s syndrome and has suffered a tremendous amount of painful injustice throughout his life that caused him to become a defensive and hostile-appearing person…

    Does NOT, I repeat, DOES NOT justify him calling you disgusting names, being physically aggressive, or treating you like a doormat.

     

    His Asperger’s syndrome does not preclude him from knowing WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IS WRONG when it comes to behaving in a humane and decent way toward his spouse and no one should ever make excuses for him when he does that.

     

    ASPERGER’S SYNDROME DOES NOT EXCUSE ABUSE AND ASPERGER’S SYNDROME DOES NOT CAUSE A MAN TO BE ABUSIVE!

     

     

    So PLEASE… while you read my posts and may come to an understanding about how and why he behaves the way he does… please keep in the back of your mind that it DOES NOT EXCUSE ABUSE IN ANY WAY.

    I NEED YOU TO PLEASE GET THIS THROUGH YOUR HEAD AND ACCEPT IT IN YOUR MIND, HEART AND SOUL….

     

    THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR BEING ABUSIVE

     

    If your husband chooses to respond to you by saying you are the one being abusive and he is simply “reacting” to you… then you need to make it clear to him that this justification will no longer be accepted by you.

    While you are searching for help to better your marriage and hold out hope that things can get better… and they can… (and I commend you for having the strength and love to still be searching for this outcome) …  I HIGHLY suggest you create a back-up plan to begin a life without your husband if he refuses to stop name calling and/or throwing violent or aggressive temper tantrums.

    I HIGHLY suggest you WALK OUT THE DOOR and leave him to fend for himself if he cannot accept that his behavior WILL NO LONGER BE TOLERATED.

    Staying with a man who continues to treat you in an abusive manner IS telling him that his behavior is acceptable.  Hard pill to swallow, but it is high-time you choke it down.

    You have already proven (beyond a shadow of any doubt) that you are an incredibly strong and resilient woman who is capable of withstanding more challenge and emotional pain then most people could wrap their head around.  If you do not believe this, if you have convinced yourself you are weak (and that is why you have remained in an unhappy and abusive relationship) I am going to tell you to get a grip on reality (sorry… I know that sounds like something he might say to you!).  I am going to tell you the same thing military leaders repeat to their sailors and soldiers when they are claiming to be incapable of finding the inner strength to continue on in a terrifying direction…

    SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP!

     

    You are strong… you are stronger than most could ever fathom.  You are a good person; you are a selfless person who has sacrificed your own mental health to love someone that you knew in your heart was worthy of a love no one else understood.  You are amazing and you need to stop making excuses for why you just “might deserve” the abusive ways your husband has treated you.  While I can easily explain all of the misunderstandings and unconscious and unintentional underlying reasons for your husband’s behaviors over the years… I CAN NOT and I WILL NOT attempt to give an excuse for the unquestionably abusive words and actions he has directed at you.

    Perhaps he is not entirely aware of what constitutes as abuse… perhaps he never had malicious intent… perhaps he has the emotional maturity of a child and is greatly challenged at controlling his outbursts…. perhaps he has felt attacked by you and believed his nastiness was an equal and warranted response to the ways he felt he was being “abused” by you… perhaps there are a million reasons to explain why he came to a place that he felt his behavior was acceptable and excusable…  but I assure you…. the #1 reason he has come to THAT place is because you have remained with him despite him treating you in a horrifically unacceptable way!  

    Many of our Aspie husbands were verbally abusive toward their mothers (or sisters) growing up… and these women still loved them and did not abandon them.  This has created a false sense of security that you are the only other woman (outside of their Mother) who will continue loving him and not abandon him regardless of how far he pushes his outbursts.  

    It is time he learns otherwise and you… yes, you buttercup… need to be the one to tell him that it STOPS TODAY or he is going to learn the hard way that not every woman who has dedicated their love to him is going to do so unconditionally.

    Unconditional love in a marriage is just a stupid, stupid word.  Unconditional love should be reserved only for the love a parent has for their child…. It should not ever be used in a marriage.  It sets a terrible stage for women (especially NT-e women) to believe they should remain married despite all else.  NT-e women often love their Aspie husband with the same love they have for their children… unconditional.  This needs to stop.  You are tired of feeling like his mother, SO STOP ACTING LIKE YOU ARE!  Start putting CONDITIONS on how far your love is willing to go.  Let him know that: 

    IT STOPS AT ABUSE!

     

    Your Aspie husband IS NOT STUPID.  Your Aspie husband KNOWS when he has said or done something that would be inexcusable in any relationship or marriage.  I encourage you… I beg of you to start accepting who you are, start putting conditions on the love you are willing to give, and start discovering the strength you already have proven time and time again that you possess… and be willing to leave him if he does not stop abusing you.

    Obviously if you call your husband abusive… you can anticipate an incredible amount of verbal abuse directed at you in response.  Fine.  Don’t use that word.  Call it “INTOLERABLE BEHAVIOR”.

    Let him know you are learning about why he behaves the way he does, and why you behave the way you do. Let him know you are willing and wanting to make your marriage work and do whatever it takes to create a happy and healthy marriage. Tell him you are committed to changing the ways you have behaved as well that have caused difficulties and you expect him to be willing to do the same for you.  Tell him you love him…

    And then make it CLEAR…. MAKE IT PERFECTLY CLEAR…

    THAT THE INTOLERABLE BEHAVIOR STOPS IMMEDIATELY…

    TO-DAY…

    OR YOUR MARRIAGE IS OVER AND YOU ARE LEAVING HIM.

     

    Give him a chance to absorb what you have said to him.  Tell him you absolutely REQUIRE him to acknowledge your words and the behaviors you deem unacceptable or you will have to assume he is not agreeable to them and you will then follow through with your promise to walk away.

     

    HOW DO YOU DO THIS?

    First, take time to read about what I am saying in this post and the others. Take time for yourself to identify what is intolerable, what is a part of his Asperger’s syndrome defenses (that can be corrected), and then take time to firmly establish an alternative to remaining in your marriage.  Outline a plan to leave, even if that plan involves the same steps a “battered wife” needs to take to leave her husband.  Accept that if he is not willing to stop these intolerable behaviors… that you ARE a battered wife. 

    You do not have to have bruises on your face or broken bones to be battered and any search of emotional/verbal abuse will 100% agree that the injuries you cannot see… the ones that are violently destroying you from the inside out… they are far more damaging than the ones you can see.  So realize, if your husband refuses to stop acting that way… it is time to call a spade a spade (I use this term without the racist connotation it originally carried).  It truly took my husband’s sister to finally convince me that there is NO excuse ever rational enough to justify a man verbally or physically abusing a woman… please don’t wait for someone else to convince you of this.  

    If your husband consciously and knowingly opts to disregard what you define as abuse (see below), then he is consciously and knowingly choosing to abuse you.  So if you haven’t the financial means to begin again… start researching what “battered women” have as options and be willing to implement those options to get the fuck out of your marriage.

    Once you have solidified enough information about why your husband “is” the way he is… the things both of you have done to create a terribly awful dynamic (even if completely unintentional); decide if you want to keep working through it.  Decide if you want to try one more time to make your marriage happy based off of the insight I have given in this blog.  Decide that you are ready and willing to put forth this effort, and decide that you will ONLY do so if your husband is agreeable to stop his abusive behavior (by way of calling it “intolerable behavior”).  Decide that if he is not, you will leave.

    And then I urge you… I beg of you…

    Tell him directly and clearly (in a letter, email, text, or face to face) that the intolerable behavior (abuse) stops today.  Make sure you have clearly identified everything that falls under the category of intolerable behavior and make sure it is written down in a place he can reflect on (if willing to) so there are no “grey areas” and there are no excuses to say “Oh, well I didn’t know you considered that intolerable behavior, so it doesn’t count.”  Identify exactly what you will NO LONGER accept and make sure you have been clear and direct enough that he cannot sway you into “exceptions” because he did not realize that his words or actions were “on the list.”

     

    Side note:  Give him the option to create his own list of behaviors he finds intolerable on your behalf and be willing to consider and agree to those equally.

     

     

    Whether he acknowledges what you have said to him or not… tell him that those behaviors stop TODAY and make it clear to him that if they continue… even once… YOU WILL leave your marriage… and there will be no discussing it at that point.

    I mean it when I say, if he does it again… EVEN ONCE…. LEAVE HIS ASS!  Walk out that door with your head held high.  You have every right to hold your head up high if the man you love and have sacrificed your physical and mental health for REFUSES to treat you with the BARE MINIMUM AMOUNT OF RESPECT EVERY HUMAN DESERVES.

     

    Asperger’s syndrome is NOT an excuse for cruelty.

    Asperger’s syndrome does not make a man blind or incapable of comprehending what behaviors are abusive.

    Asperger’s syndrome does not create a man too blind to comprehend right from wrong.

    Do not allow Asperger’s syndrome to excuse THOSE behaviors ever again… it gives the Aspies who are not abusive a very unfair image they do not deserve.

     

     

    Here are my suggestions for “intolerable behavior” to be clearly listed (but I suggest you tailor them to your husband’s repetitive actions so there is nothing left unsaid).  Do not put emotions in your list.  Make the list direct and clear without any “side information, explanation, or specific examples of this behavior in the past.”

    1. NAME CALLING (Bitch, CU*T, stupid, insane, useless, dumb, piece of shit, etc.)
    2. THROWING THINGS (Breaking dishes, throwing items, dumping drinks or anything else on you, etc.)
    3. PHYSICAL AGGRESSIVENESS (Pushing, grabbing, hitting, kicking, spitting, shoving, cornering you, getting in your face or raising a hand or fist at you, etc.)
    4. THREATENING YOU (I will sabotage your life, career, family, etc. I will take the children, the car, the home, the money, etc. I will make you pay. I will hurt, kill, destroy you, etc.)
    5. INDIRECT ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR (slamming things around, hiding or breaking things that belong to you, stealing, lying, sabotaging shared or personal items – Like breaking the car so you cannot drive, your computer or electronic devices, etc.)

     

    It is not now (nor was it ever) alright to behave that way. It is not alright for you to do it in response to him, and it is not alright for him to do it (in response to you). If you do not firmly establish this boundary and do it fast… no amount of effort you EVER put into saving your marriage will matter because the moment one of these abusive behaviors is repeated, it will undo every bit of progress you made and send you right back to the misery and broken soul you felt throughout your marriage.  Removing these behaviors is a NON-NEGOTIABLE requirement and you need to stand behind your words after you have made them undeniably clear to him.

     

    YOU ARE A REMARKABLE WOMAN & HE IS NOT A BAD MAN

    I commend you for everything you have done to get to the point that you are still motivated and wanting to save your marriage… I know it has been hellish in many ways (for both of you).

    I do not think your Aspie husband is evil for the things he has said any more than I think you are for the things you have said.  There is always a chance for hope (regardless of what you read) because your husband is not a psychopath.  Your husband does not do these things with the intention of manipulating you or tearing apart your psyche.  Your husband does these things because he has incredibly poor coping skills (that can be corrected) and he has learned that the more aggressive he is, the more likely he is to make a confusing and emotionally intolerable situation immediately stop.  I will give the benefit of doubt to your husband that he is naive to some of the specific things you find abusive, but I will assure you, he still knows every time he has gone “too far” or said something damaging and cruel.  You can forgive all of those things and move forward because they were never directed at you for the same reasons a psychopath would do them to you… but once you clearly outline that you are never again going to tolerate them… you can no longer forgive him or excuse them as an “isolated incident.”

     

    BUT… IT’S NOT THAT EASY TO LEAVE

    Yeah, I know.  I have heard this a million times.  I hate to tell you this, but it is an excuse.  I am not suggesting it will be easy, I am not suggesting you are going to walk away without regret or reconsider your choice.  I am not suggesting you are going to leave him and not walk into an entirely different world of struggle.  I am suggesting it is an excuse still.  Fear of the unknown is terrifying.  But any time you find a “reason” to stay with a man who knowingly and purposely abuses you (and he will be doing it purposely after you lay it out for him); it is still an excuse.  Regardless of the excuse you make to stay and tolerate abusive behavior; he’s the father of your children, he is the financial provider, he will fall apart without you…

    There is NEVER an excuse good enough to accept being abused. NEVER. You existed before him, and you are clearly a very strong woman and will make it without him.  He existed before you, and he will make it without you. Your children do not deserve to live with a mother who is broken and miserable and they certainly will not benefit from watching their mother willingly accept being abused.

     

     

    LEAVING DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL THE END

    This may sound weird, but just because you leave him… does not mean the end of your marriage.  Your husband’s behaviors have been created over many years.  You have put up with them and remained with him throughout it all.  There is a very good chance defining the “intolerable” behaviors will fall on deaf ears and he will knowingly test you or do it again.  This is an immature response, perhaps an act of defiance, perhaps a test to see if you will really do it.

     

    DO IT!

     

    It may take you finally standing behind your words to get him to wake up and realize he needs to take accountability for himself and be the man you deserve (that I believe most Aspie husbands WANT to be).  Perhaps it will take leaving him for him to get it through his mind that he can no longer treat you that way.  Perhaps you will have to leave him to have a chance at EVER making it better.

    The thing is… if you outline the abusive behavior you will no longer tolerate… and you remain with him after he violates this… you can count on him never changing and you better believe he will have zero respect for you.  If you make it clear that he cannot ever abuse you again after you define what you consider abuse, you will never feel good about yourself if you willingly allow it to continue.

     

    YOU HAVE TO BE STRONG ENOUGH TO WALK OUT THE DOOR OR KICK HIM OUT OF THE HOUSE AND STAND BY YOUR ACTIONS.

     

    If you believe he warrants another chance (and I am not against this) make damn sure there is a significant enough amount of time in between you allowing him back into your life before you do.  Make sure you have given YOURSELF enough time to learn who you are, what you want, and whether or not you actually want to live a life with or without him in the future (this process could take months for you to reach a rational choice).  Make sure you are hearing from a man who TRULY gets it.  Make sure you are hearing from a man who is taking personal accountability for his actions and who is truly understanding of the gravity of his behavior (words and actions) before you EVER consider letting him back into your life.  Make sure you give time to be with one another (without living together) again before you allow him back in that door, or you return.

    If a separation is not enough for him to willingly and wantonly abolish those cruel behaviors, you need to permanently walk out on your marriage.

    You are not stupid.  You wouldn’t be on this website if you believe you deserve to be treated without respect or if you believe you deserve to have your sense of self violated. You know you are something, so stop accepting someone who treats you like nothing.  You are here because you know you do not deserve this. If you have tried everything… even a separation… and he continues to abuse you… I PROMISE YOU… that abuse is going to escalate.  I promise you that someday, that abuse is going to kill you.  Your death may be a slow and torturous one by way of your immune system shutting down, your heart developing dysfunction, or your mental health breaking you down to a non-functioning woman, but one way or another, it absolutely will… without question… equate to a premature and agonizing death.  This is coming from a healthcare professional who absolutely comprehends how powerful our brains are.  This is coming from someone who knows that if you do not protect your emotional sense of self, your body will begin to manifest diseases and disorders in a desperate attempt to get you to wake the fuck up and start paying attention to your emotional well-being! 

    THIS IS NOT ABOUT SACRIFICING YOUR FEELINGS OF HAPPINESS FOR YOUR HUSBAND…. THIS IS ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE WILLING TO SACRIFICE YOUR LIFE FOR HIM! 

    If you stay with your Aspie husband despite his refusal to stop abusing you, you are agreeing to lay down your own life to appease his inflexible and intolerable cruelty. If you think for one second that staying with a man who refuses to stop abusing you is best for your children… if you think leaving him would be selfish and cause great harm to your children… if you have convinced yourself that you are sacrificing yourself, not for him, but for the sake of your children… I implore you to wake up fast… KILLING YOURSELF IS CRUEL TO YOUR CHILDREN! 

    Not all Aspie husbands display defensive anger on a recurrent basis and of the ones who do, not all of them rise to the level of verbal and/or emotional abuse.  Anger (in and of itself) is not necessarily abusive (challenging to deal with, but not abusive).  Most of the time, a very angry, defensive, or hostile Aspie husband will cross over into the grey area of verbal and emotional abuse.  

    As you read my website, you will find that I am very defensive of Aspie husbands and I am incredibly defensive of the fact that your marriage can get better and that an Aspie-NT marriage CAN be happy and successful.  I do not “excuse” any of the poor behaviors your husband has any more than I excuse the poor behaviors you have had.  I have found explanations, and I have found causes for them.  I have found hope, I have seen success, and I have found a reason to fight for our marriages.  I do not believe your husband is a bad man, I believe he is a good man.  I believe you are a good woman. 

    I believe your life can get better. In order to begin implementing the advice I have to give, in order to begin understanding how you came to both be so miserable in your marriage, and in order for you to begin truly working hard on change… you must first establish the behaviors that will prevent ANY of that from ever being realized. You have to take time for yourself and reflect on the words and behaviors that are abusive to your emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being.  You have to write them down.  You have to truly believe that you no longer deserve to be treated that way.  You have to stop making excuses, for him and yourself.  You have to establish and be willing to follow through on a new life that does not include your husband.  You have to share your clear and direct “intolerable and unacceptable” list with your husband, and then you have to be willing to stand by your word and follow through.

    Take the time to establish what you deserve.  Take the time to read what I have written.  Take the time to identify the non-negotiable things that are killing your spirit and the magnificent woman you are… and write them down. Share them with your husband when you are ready.  Give him time to process your words, and then make a firm and final choice to do the MOST IMPORTANT THING you can do to save your marriage if he continues to be abusive…

    BE WILLING TO WALK AWAY FROM IT.

     

     

     

    IT IS NOT ALRIGHT TO BE ABUSED BY THE PERSON YOU LOVE… FOR ANY REASON… EVER.

    *****If you are being physically abused, I don’t even recommend giving him a second chance.  If you are being physically abused and you fear for your personal safety, I also DO NOT recommend you challenge him or waste your energy with a list.  If you are being physically abused, I recommend you seek immediate help and you plan a permanent escape that is safe.  I also recommend you take a second glance at his Asperger-diagnosis.  It is not impossible for an Aspie to also become violent but in cases like this… you are dealing with a comorbid mental health diagnosis and his AS is not responsible for the disturbing personality disorder that affords him the delusional belief he can physically assault another human being.  Get away from a man like this and get away from them in a way that provides you with a safe escape.

     

     

     


  • 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?


  • WHY IS IT UNFAIR TO SAY ASPIES HAVE ZERO EMPATHY?

    BECAUSE IT’S NOT TRUE

     

    I received a comment recently that I wanted to share as I think it will be a common source of confusion for others:  

    Please read my definition of cognitive and affective empathy HERE first (if you haven’t already)

     

    David wrote:  

    “I’m confused. You say aspies have zero empathy, but elsewhere you say they have affective empathy, just not cognitive empathy. From how you explain it, what you call “affective empathy” is what I have always thought was “empathy”. What you call “cognitive empathy” sounds like reading someone’s thoughts, which sounds impossible, but doesn’t sound like what I think of when I think of empathy. Isn’t it a little unfair to say someone has zero empathy when they do have affective empathy?”

     

    David,

    Awesome comment because you are absolutely correct! While my posts will center around all-things good and amazing about my Aspie husband in the future, I chose to begin this blog with a lot of the mis-information out there. If you read my WHY AM I SO ANGRY? post, you might think my husband was evil and I was a horrifically abused wife too dumb to leave him. That is how I felt for a long time, and how a lot of spouses (like myself) feel because they do not grasp the big picture yet. I wanted my posts to grab the current feelings of many of the wives out there… so they could first empathize with ME and realize I get what they are going through; hopefully lending some belief in my current thoughts and their desire to implement my suggestions in their own marriage.  My intention of striking a chord with the desperate NT wives out there is also why some of my post titles are seemingly negative and unfair to those with Asperger’s syndrome.  

    I can appreciate how the post you commented on WHAT DOES ALTRUISM HAVE TO DO WITH IT? seems very biased toward praising neurotypicals while blaming Aspie husbands for lacking empathy and damaging our relationships.  It was important to me to first acknowledge the incredible strength and mentality of those who fall in love with Aspie men because… I am going to be flipping it around in most of my future posts, beginning with this one.  

    I intend on showing all of the reasons our Aspie husbands are of equal strength and good intention and these same NT women often unknowingly create much of the misery in their marriage.  Since I began this blog entirely for neurotypical women struggling in their marriage, posts like the one you commented on do give confusing messages. Understanding the difference in cognitive and affective empathy, and how the function of both processing mechanisms paralyze communication, is the first step to finding a happy NT-Aspie union.  

    I never expected so many adult men and women with Asperger’s syndrome to take the time to read what I wrote and post their responses to it.  I am both delighted and humbled by this.  

     

    Back to why my words are unfair:

    It is incredibly unfair and cruel to suggest someone with Asperger’s syndrome does not have empathy in general. This belief is what destroys countless lives every day. This statement is what I want to change when people hear the term Asperger’s syndrome.

    Just like you, affective empathy is what EVERYONE thinks of when they hear the word.  Affective empathy is the most important part of what it means to be a compassionately empathetic individual. Affective empathy is what humanizes us and the common bond we have for one another that creates all the best things in life.  Only sociopaths (aka, psychopaths) lack affective empathy.  

    Obviously there exist other neurological anomalies and injuries that can debilitate empathy, but they also impair so many other neurological abilities that they are incredibly apparent… unlike Aspies and sociopaths who are elusive and have only empathy deficits to account for their cognitive differences with neurotypicals.  Again, sociopaths lack affective empathy but have cognitive empathy, Aspies lack cognitive empathy but have affective empathy (polar opposites).

    There is confusion about this because no one realizes there is an entirely different version of empathy (the cognitive part) that symbiotically functions to enable and enhance the affective part for neurotypicals.

    When someone cannot utilize their cognitive empathy the way the majority does, it stunts the affective part. It does not eliminate the fact that affective empathy exists and is fully functional for those with Asperger’s syndrome.  The absence of cognitive empathy disables the ability to show affective empathy appropriately based on the expectations of an NT (not their fault, this is because social norms that deviate from what NT’s comprehend as normal are viewed as negative and wrong).

    I am going to assume you have Asperger’s syndrome? I may be wrong but I am making this assumption based off of your summation that cognitive empathy sounds like “reading someone’s thoughts” (which it kind of is), and that does not sound logical or possible to you. If I did not possess this ability (and understand that those deemed neurotypical also do) than I would agree that such a concept sounds ridiculous.

    Of note: Not every neurotypical is good at utilizing their cognitive empathy effectively.

     

    No, I do not think I am psychic

    I do not think I can accurately look at a stranger (or anyone) and factually read their mind.  That would be CRAZY. What I do have (NT’s) is the ability to information-gather based off of someone’s facial expressions, body language, tone/pitch of voice, timing in delivering their words, taking in the same nonverbal language from those around this person, and the “hidden” meaning behind what someone says vice what they actually mean.  All of these things combined enable a person to come pretty close to accurately guessing what someone is thinking or feeling.  We learn to do this before grade school and it comes SO NATURALLY and rapidly we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

    As I have said before… the closer we are to a person (knowing their past behaviors, feelings, desires, or how they responded emotionally to a similar situation) the more likely we will guess what they are thinking/feeling correctly.  If it helps to call it “guessing” in lieu of “mind reading” then that is totally understandable and more accurate.  We are only guessing and no one can read another person’s mind; it just so happens NT to NT guessing is often spot-on.

    Since Aspies very rarely have “hidden meanings” in their words, and they cannot information-gather the same way we NT’s do… we (NTs) keep fudging everything up. We keep thinking there is hidden meaning in words, over-analyzing behaviors, and seeing the delay (or incorrect) response to our feelings as inappropriate, rude, aloof, condescending, mean, uncaring, insensitive, or cold.

    Eventually I hope I will help other neurotypical women to STOP DOING THIS!  Maybe when the NT women finally make sense of their husband’s behavior they can help create an army of advocates who want the world to also understand their incredible husbands.  

    Wishful thinking perhaps, but I believe it can be done.

    Understanding cognitive vs. affective empathy and how they work to enhance one another has to be very confusing and suspicious to someone who does not utilize cognitive empathy. I also realize the suggestion that an Aspie has zero cognitive empathy makes people with Aspergers feel angry that they are being deemed defective or broken.

    I think those highly empathetic neurotypicals (the wives of Aspie men usually are) and those with Asperger’s syndrome are both defective (SEE: WHY AM I SO STUPID?). With that being said, I do not for one second think that either of them are “broken”; just different.

    color

    If you don’t see the green number, you must not love me!

    My good friend is color blind.  He does not see the same thing when he looks at colors that I do. He is not broken for this, he just sees the world different than many of those around him.  My friend cannot control this, nor can he ever see the colors others do… he just has to accept that they exist for others.  My friend has a genetic mutation (I hate that word because it sounds bad) that causes the wiring in his brain to process color different.

    Someone with Asperger’s syndrome who cannot process cognitive empathy is not broken, they process information differently. Because it is the minority who has to navigate without that processing ability, Aspies end up being shunned and made to feel broken.

    My friend got made fun of for a long time for screwing things up that required the color vision capabilities of those around him. It might have been something simple like picking up the wrong color legos or puzzle pieces as a child, to painting his home in unappealing colors as an adult.  Sometimes people made fun of him and he felt like he screwed things up (but he never knew why).  When my friend finally learned he was color blind to some of the shades others could see, he stopped thinking he was a screw-up. When he was able to articulate this to people, they stopped giving him a hard time when he showed up in a green shirt instead of a blue one (military) or other areas where color-selection comes into play.  The people who were close to him began to help him instead or teasing him, like his wife laying out the correct color undershirt for him to wear to work the night before, or helping him navigate through other color-conundrums. 

    Lucky for my friend, something like color-processing is not often associated with personal feelings so when he had messed up in the past, his character was not attacked for being “uncaring and cold.”

    Lacking cognitive empathy adversely effects how easily a person can show affective empathy and therefore… people take this difference in neurologically processing information as personal.  Aspies get screwed by a society who thinks they just lack empathy altogether.

    They do not lack it, they simply cannot show it the same way we neurotypicals anticipate unless we directly state what we are thinking or feeling.  But alas, we don’t accept this different perspective because we don’t understand it… neither Aspie nor NT does.

    If only I could think that way…

    The honesty and simplicity in how those with Asperger’s syndrome communicate is something to appreciate and emulate. It is what we NT’s should be striving for in many ways.

    It would be so much easier if we could stop basing our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors off of our assumed reality.  How many problems would be solved if neurotypicals just stopped reacting to what someone was “thinking” and chose to directly ASK THEM instead (and also believe their response as the truth)?  NTs are NOT always correct in their guess-work (obviously) and they are awful at it when they are guessing about their Aspie husband.

    It can screw us NTs up from time to time and cause us to believe a reality that does not exist… like when we assume we read nonverbal messages correctly but are way off target and then react to those messages by being upset, angry, offended, etc.. Sometimes our cognitive empathy steers us in the wrong direction but if we utilized the direct language Aspies use, we could avoid the whole misunderstanding.  This is what occurs the majority of the time in Aspie-NT marriages because we cannot read a person with Aspergers the way we can read an NT.  The reason for this is that Aspies lack cognitive empathy and therefore they do not operate under its existence in their lives. They are equally unaware of how their nonverbal messages come across to the outside world as they are about the nonverbal messages coming from it.  Without the knowledge of how they send out nonverbal messages, they never learn (from social interaction in childhood development) how to regulate their facial expressions, body language, etc. This regulation begins to occur without thought for NT’s so 9/10 times, the nonverbal messages they are sending out directly match the inner thoughts and feelings they are having.  With an Aspie, there is a disconnect with that and the nonverbal messages they are sending out do not often accurately match the internal thoughts and feelings they are having.  Neurotypicals don’t know this though, so they are receiving incorrect messages frequently from the Aspie in their life and they are responding to them as truth.

    Let me try to clarify.  Let’s say there is a neurotypical 5 year old child grocery shopping with their mother and their mom accidentally pushes the cart into their little leg. The child may feel a slight pain and make an automatic facial expression that reflects this pain.  The mom apologizes profusely to the child, who is in no way upset with their mom for the accident, and continues to make the same facial expression of pain because now their leg is hurting a little when they walk.  About ten minutes later, the mom notices that the child still has this look on their face but since time has elapsed and mom thinks it could no longer be a look of pain, she begins to associate the look with being angry at the mom for hurting them.  Mom again begins to apologize profusely and the child says, “I know you didn’t mean it, it’s ok mom.”  

    If this look keeps up (because the leg is still sore) the mom may eventually say, “I said I was sorry, why are you so mad at me?”  The child, having never said they were mad (quite the opposite) will then become aware that they are giving a facial expression that makes mom think they are in fact, angry.  This triggers those synapses to connect the dots between the face they are making and it’s confusing message and they automatically adjust this facial expression in the future.  This happens without purposeful intention… it is just the way the brain naturally wires itself through experiences in childhood.  The next time someone does something by accident, this child will automatically avoid that facial expression of discomfort so they do not make the accidental offender feel guilty, unless of course… they want the person to feel bad, then the look will remain (something that also occurs without thought).

    Hard to believe this happens, but it does.  

    That is how a neurotypical brain adapts to its social environment… so that their nonverbal messages do not cause unwanted emotional responses in others.  This happens in thousands of situations growing up and become an unspoken language based off of sending/receiving messages nonverbally throughout their youth.  This is why a neurotypicals ability to identify someone’s feelings (another neurotypicals) without the use of direct language become fairly accurate the closer they are to them.

    This is not the case with a person who has Asperger’s syndrome.  The Aspie child in the same situation will NOT understand that their facial expression is making their mother think they are angry.  They will know that they are in pain and their nonverbal messages will send out whatever response it wants to at that moment and there will exist no connection between the mother’s emotional response of guilt and their uncontrollable outward manifestation of whatever made her think this.  They will not even identify that their mother is feeling guilty when she says, “I said I was sorry, why are you still mad at me?”  They will take her words at face value; they may repeat the same sentence or say, “I know you didn’t mean it, I already said it was ok mom.”  They will not be aware that mom is giving them nonverbal messages in her question that show a face of guilt, or that her tone of voice is apologetic and she is really saying, “I am really sorry, I would never want to purposely hurt you.  I am concerned you think I did it on purpose because your facial expression is telling me that and that makes me feel badly that you would think that about me.  Please tell me you are not angry, and then please stop making a face that makes me think you are so I don’t feel guilty anymore.”  

    Holy crap that is a LOT of information mom thinks she is sending out to her child.  She doesn’t know she is speaking to her child without the use of those words because she naturally sends out a long paragraph of thought while only using words that unclearly summarize all those feelings.  The child is only hearing what mom said and therefore they may mentally process that mom must really think they are mad, but maybe she just didn’t hear them when they said they knew it was an accident and it was ok.  So they repeat themselves and they unknowingly keep the same facial expression of discomfort when they begin walking again, causing mom to think the child is purposely trying to cause her to feel badly for what she did.  By the time they reach the check-out line, mom may scoff at the child and say, “It’s ridiculous you are so angry about this, it was just an accident and you have no reason to be angry, stop being a baby!”

    Well, damn… that poor Aspie kid didn’t do a anything wrong and never “caused” his mom’s inevitably hurtful accusation.  Now the Aspie child is feeling angry… and they are absolutely justified in this!  Now the Aspie child WILL display a facial expression of anger or try to defend themselves, or get frustrated, feel hurt, and ultimately think they were treated unfairly (which is true).  What happens to Aspie children like this?  That’s when you see the good ol term, “temper tantrum” in full effect.  What happens to an adult like this? Well, that’s when you see a defensive and hostile response that makes the other person think the Aspie is an asshole.  It all makes perfect sense when you look at the big picture, but since no one grasps the cognitive empathy deficit, no one ever finds resolution in what actually caused the situation to unravel.

    In a scenario that innocent, the Aspie ends up receiving a very confused message that their mom is accusing them of feeling something that they are not feeling and they do not have a clue why.  The mother is not conscious of her use of cognitive empathy and therefore… she has no clue what kind of message she is sending her child by using words that are not in synch with the information she intended to send. The mom feels guilty for accidentally hurting her child and then becomes frustrated the child is angry, she begins to assume the child thinks she pushed the cart into them on purpose and feels hurt and eventually, irritated that the child would think that.  

    That is the speed and degree of emotional shifting a neurotypical does unknowingly when they are deciphering the nonverbal messages they receive. There is no direct articulation of words to ask questions or seek clarification for how the mom is receiving her child’s nonverbal message, so there will be no understanding of one another’s seemingly baffling behavior.  When the “baffling behavior” begins to pile up over time, both parties become further separated in their perception of one another and ability to understand the way the other thinks.

    Make sense?  Explaining a concept as abstract as cognitive empathy is incredibly difficult because it is not something that can be taught and most people are completely unaware of its existence.  They either use it, or they don’t; few are aware of who is using it, and who is not.  Aspie’s assume no one has this ability to read nonverbal messages (because they don’t) and neurotypicals assume everyone does (because they do).

    In the innocent grocery store example, you may now see HOW MANY different “feelings” can be in play for the neurotypical; guilt, frustration, confusion, irritation, etc. while the Aspie doesn’t really have any “emotional feelings” going on, they are just experiencing physical discomfort.  The aspie will eventually begin to emotionally feel anger though because they are being accused of feeling something that they are not.  

    CAUSE AND EFFECT

    The inevitable feelings of anger that the Aspie has after constant and unrelenting accusations about their inner thoughts and feelings (throughout their lifetime) become the recipe for an argumentative, withdrawn, and/or defensive adult.  They learn to associate social interaction with being accused of untrue things and they respond to this the same way any human would… they begin to assign “trigger” words that can alert them to respond appropriately before they are attacked.  Cause and effect.  If they are used to being called uncaring, naive, gullible, insensitive, malicious, cold, robotic, inappropriate, angry, sad, rude, condescending, thoughtless, stupid, selfish, or any other hurtful term hurled at them by an NT who inaccurately deciphered their innocent nonverbal messages as such… they are going to defend their own character the moment they think one of those labels is about to be launched at them.  Some become hostile and demonstratively defensive adults who argue before the words can even be said, others become withdrawn entirely to protect themselves from ever allowing those words to manifest by another person. Most adult Aspies end up doing both. 

    This is what happens to a ridiculously heightened degree with interpersonal relationships between Aspies and NTs. They are both speaking two different languages and one way or another, the NTs rapid shifting and attempts to identify the Aspies thoughts and/or feelings will turn to some form of accusatory verbal language directed at the poor Aspie who “Didn’t even do or say anything!”  They do not see the world through the same eyes when it comes to social interaction and interpersonal communication.  

    The only way to bridge this gap is for the NT to become aware of their use of cognitive empathy when communicating with the Aspie and make damn sure they are using plain language to send information and gather information in the future.  They cannot base any information off of the nonverbal messages they “think” they are receiving from their Aspie mate.  Even if some of those messages do end up accurately identifying the Aspie’s thoughts or feelings, they have to pull the plug on thinking they will the next time.  The person with Asperger’s syndrome will never respond the same way every time to a similar emotion or feeling because they do not have the neurological connections in place to repeat these things or become aware of them.  

    The only way to prevent such disastrous misunderstandings from happening is if the NT learns to never associate their partner’s nonverbal messages with the words they are speaking out loud.  They absolutely have to stop trusting their history of being skilled in identifying what others think and feel based off of nonverbal language.  They have to disassociate the link between nonverbal and verbal information and BELIEVE their Aspie loved ones words over their often contradicting nonverbal behavior.

    Neurotypical wives who want to find effective communication within their marriage to a man with Asperger’s syndrome will literally have to learn a new method of communication.  The Aspie cannot, I repeat, they CANNOT adapt to the neurotypicals way of sending and receiving messages.  They do not have this ability and they should not be expected to develop it, nor should they be held accountable for not using it.  The change MUST come from the neurotypical if they really want to have the intimate connection they claim to desperately want from their Aspie partner.  

    This is the #1 most important thing that must be done to turn a failing Aspie-NT union into a successful and happy one.  It isn’t easy and it is going to take a lot of awareness on the neurotypicals behalf to do this… but it is worth every bit of effort.  

    JUST TO BEAT A DEAD HORSE

    The neurotypical will never be able to accurately understand how their Aspie partner really feels about something if they are creating the information based off inaccurate nonverbal messages.  The Aspie is never going to accurately understand how the NT partner thinks if the verbal messages they receive are only a tiny fraction of the whole, which was sent predominantly through nonverbal communication that they cannot receive.  

    The cognitive empathy deficit disables the Aspie from ever responding appropriately to their NT loved one; in essence… it paralyzes their ability to utilize and show affective (emotional) empathy.  They have it… they have emotional empathy just the same as the neurotypical… but how can they show it when they have zero understanding of when, why, or how to use it at the right time?  The neurotypical is never going to utilize their emotional empathy appropriately toward their mate if they are trying to respond to feelings and thoughts that aren’t real.

    Tell an Aspie you are sad and why… in plain language, and if they love you, you will see emotional empathy.  Assume they know you are sad and why, and you are going to get an inappropriate response.  

    Now tell me, who’s fault is that really?

    BUT… THERE IS A GOOD SIDE TOO

    Not all cognitive empathy abilities for an NT are troublesome.  While neurotypicals obviously screw things up a whole lot with their Aspie loved ones, it is that use of cognitive empathy that enables amazing relationships with NT-NT individuals.  Having the instinctive ability to identify the thoughts and feelings of others without spoken words helps us offer our support, emotional empathy, love, assistance, and general regard for people rapidly without them ever having to ask for it.  Often times, adults do not want to directly ask people to fill the void of emotional needs.  For instance, if someone has just gone through a divorce, but is trying to put on a positive and optimistic face… an NT will usually become acutely aware of the facade based off of the other (unintentional) nonverbal messages being sent out.  They can respond with the emotional support the heartbroken person would benefit from without them having to ask.  The divorced individual does not have to feel weak, codependent, burdensome, or needy (which may further assault their fragile ego) because they did not have to reach out for help… help just arrived.

    It is pretty amazing to be able to respond to people’s emotional needs without delay and with the appropriate response; this develops trust and feelings of love.  This develops intimacy in romantic relationships.  This is what the neurotypical is expecting from their Aspie partner, who honestly… wants to provide all of the same rapid support to the NT they love.  The sad truth is that they can’t.  They can’t until the NT learns to use direct, unambiguous verbalization of what they need out loud.  They cannot expect it the way they would in an NT-NT dynamic.  That is not fair and it is counterproductive to obtaining the emotional empathy they claim to be deprived of.  

    NT’s keep thinking that if their Aspie partner cannot “identify” what it is they need, then they must be devoid of understanding human emotion… they must not have it themselves.  This is untrue and this is a thought-process that you are creating based off incorrect assumptions.  My husband used to say, “Your mind is your own worst enemy!” I despised him when he said this to me, as though he was calling me crazy, or telling me I was imagining all of the hurt feelings I had for feeling unloved by him.  The truth is… my mind WAS my own worst enemy.  I imagined things that weren’t true based off of my own understanding of neurologically processing emotions and correct behavior.  I knew I loved, I knew I felt empathy, and I knew I gave all of my effort in trying to provide those feelings to my husband.  I assumed he could do the exact same and when he did not, my mind created the reason for it.  He can do the exact same… love, feel empathy, and provide both of those things to me.  He just needs to get the right information from me in order to show me those things.  I allowed my lack of awareness to turn my husband into someone he was not and blame him for causing me harm that honestly… my own mind unknowingly created. Hard pill to swallow, but the survival of our marriage was dependent on it.

    IT’S ALL ABOUT AWARENESS   

    Just as a neurotypical has no idea how their communication abilities cause harm to their Aspie partner, the Aspie partner is equally blind to the damage they cause.

    Trying to put myself in my husband’s shoes and imagine a world where cognitive empathy does not exist was damn-near impossible at first (why no one wants to listen to the simplicity and innocence of it all). It is just as hard for us to grasp a world without this ability as it must be for an Aspie to grasp a world with it.

    Example: If you were holding up a red coffee mug and tried to convince me it was green, there is no way I would buy into your words… nor would I believe you were really seeing green. I would wonder why you were being snarky or screwing with my head and then over-analyze why you would want to do this.  You would also find yourself completely dumbfounded as to why I kept calling the mug red when it was clearly green; you might even think I was crazy and doubt my opinions in the future.  Neither of us would be wrong; it would just take a giant leap of faith for one to believe the other is TRULY seeing that color and not just messing with them.

    To bridge the gap of the Aspie/NT processing of cognitive empathy, both people have to take a giant leap of faith and trust that they see the world different. It is only in that leap of faith and trust in the other person’s reality that they can both utilize their amazing affective empathy skills to make a relationship work. 

    Let me try it this way…

    150226_SLATEST_TheDress-proof590.jpg.CROP.cq5dam_web_1280_1280_jpeg

    This dress is a big topic of discussion on the internet that makes people stop and think about the way they perceive the world in contrast to others.  When I look at this dress, I see white and gold.  In NO way am I capable of seeing blue and black (believe me, I tried).  Some people will look at it and say it is blue and black (it actually IS) and wonder how in the hell I am seeing white and gold.  My daughter (who I like to think is a mini-me) only sees blue and black and thought I was nuts for seeing white and gold. Since I wanted to believe my daughter and I looked at the world through similar eyes, I felt incredibly sad when I realized (based off of this image) that even she and I see the world different; even more disturbing was the concept that my own mind can perceive something ENTIRELY incorrect based off of the way the synapses that control color-processing function within my own brain.  Neither of us are “wrong” for what we see, as the dress is still pretty and exists, we just don’t see the same thing.  Yes, technically I am “wrong” but my perception is neither harmful nor purposefully argumentative in calling the dress color as I see it.

    Considering the dress IS actually blue and black, it appears my brain is the one that deviates from the norm in color-processing under certain lighting.  This is what it is like for an Aspie vs. an NT.  The NT is processing the information for cognitive empathy like the majority that have that brain function while the Aspie (who lacks cognitive empathy) gets a different take on the same human behaviors.  

    Now that I KNOW my eyes deceive me with the image above, I would be more inclined to trust my daughter’s perception if we had a debate on what color something was in the future.  No matter how hard I try, I am NOT going to see this dress as blue and black.  It cannot be done.  My brain is not capable of doing it.  If I had not been proven wrong by seeing an image of the dress on a storefront rack and having the owner of it validate that it is blue and black… I would have gone to my grave telling my child it is white and gold and she is WRONG.  As humans we are flawed, we want to convince others of our reality in lieu of accepting and appreciating the opposing viewpoint they have… we don’t want to be wrong and we don’t want to take these giant leaps of faith in what reality actually means.  

    It is incredibly hard to trust someone else’s take on the world when you cannot see what they do.  It is incredibly difficult for an Aspie to trust in this ability we have: to rapidly put a myriad of nonverbal communication behaviors together to identify someone else’s thoughts and feelings (cognitive empathy).  It is incredibly challenging for an NT to believe their Aspie loved one is truly incapable of doing the same and realize that their inability to see the same thing is not bad or wrong.  Nothing changes the fact that both NTs and Aspies comprehend human emotion equally and want to compassionately respond to it with the same level of concern and attention.  We both want the same thing and understand the complexity of human emotion… we just identify it in a very different way.

    Neurotypicals reluctance to accept this, or their ignorance about the Aspie’s perception is causing them to place unfair and impossible expectations on their Aspie partner.  We expect them to identify our feelings when we are using nonverbal means to communicate them.  They cannot behave empathetically toward us (affective empathy) if they cannot identify what we are thinking or feeling by using cognitive empathy.  They have the same desire to be empathetic toward our feelings as we do theirs, we are on the same page with this… we just drop the line of communication when we believe our perception of reality is the only one that exists.  

    Both people have to stop and accept the other person’s capabilities and limitations so they can appreciate the contrasting world they frequently exist in.  Both parties have to begin trusting the other’s take on the world, even if they cannot see it themselves, just as I now have to trust my daughter may be right more times than not when we perceive colors differently.  I have no choice but to trust in her insight now that I finally understand my brain may not always perceive reality accurately.  It sucks to have to admit I am not always right in my processing of information, I am human and I have an ego.  

    If the Aspie husband was willing to trust his wife and what she can see, he could have an incredible teacher and advocate in navigating social norms for the remainder of his days.  If the Aspie husband was willing to accept that something exists by which he cannot process and trusted his wife’s view… there is a damn good chance she would begin comprehending his take on life with greater ease and learn to use verbal language to directly communicate what she is thinking or feeling.  There is a high likelihood she will finally stop using her information-gathering cognitive empathy to guess her husband’s thoughts and begin to just ASK HIM instead.  If the Aspie husband could accept that his wife has an equally challenging time learning to communicate without her instinctive use of reading and delivering nonverbal messages, he would be more patient with her frustration when she vocalizes anger or sadness that he did not recognize or respond appropriately to her emotions.  

    Both Aspie and NT have to stop their current defiance.  They need to openly admit to one another that the other person is NOT WRONG.  It is time to drop the damaging assumption that their version of reality is the correct one.  It is time to humbly admit defeat in the history of ego-driven and forceful attempts to make the other person exist in their version of reality.  There can be no “agreeing to disagree” there must be a mutual understanding that it is time to “”agree to agree” with one another’s truth.  There is a whole lot of fascinating experiences out there if an Aspie-NT can stop being so stubborn and appreciate one another’s differences and utilize them to benefit their own awareness in such a mind boggling world.  

    It all begins with truly comprehending and accepting the difference in cognitive vs. affective empathy.

     

    Oh no, what was I saying?

    I forgot I was writing a reply to David when I originally began this post.  

    My apologies.  I do that.

    Ok, so getting back to the point; yes, it is unfortunate and unfair to say that someone with Asperger’s syndrome has zero empathy.  Like you, most people only associate empathy with the affective side (something that is not defective in either party).  

    If people could comprehend early on that cognitive empathy does not exist for everyone (more people than anyone could fathom) then they would be able to change the way children are raised and how misunderstandings in social interactions occur early on (setting Aspies up for a life of being unfairly judged and labeled).

    Just because someone is deemed a neurotypical does not mean they always utilize their cognitive empathy effectively.  There are TONS of people out there who have the ability to process cognitive empathy but are limited in its use due to the way they were raised or experiences in their past. Understanding this difference in early childhood would benefit more people than anyone realizes and help to prevent much of the childhood alienation and bullying we have seen in the past.  The only difference between a neurotypical and a person with Asperger’s syndrome is that a neurotypical CAN develop and strengthen their use of cognitive empathy.  An Aspie does not have the neurological tools to ever develop theirs (they are never going to change the colors identified in that damn dress).  Aspies will always need the neurotypicals in their life to minimize their nonverbal communication or at least assign words with it.  

    I believe the married Aspies out there CAN begin to connect the dots of their spouses feelings and emotions (without the use of words) eventually, provided the NT wife continues to verbally articulate them while she is also using her nonverbal communication.  I do believe the repetition of words with facial expressions or actions, or explanations of thoughts that were initially expressed with indirect words, can be linked up after a while to help that couple meet closer to the middle as time progresses.  The jury is still out on this though as my marriage is not that old and it currently seems that repetition would need to occur for many years (using both verbal and nonverbal at the same time) before my nonverbal messages could become readily identified by my husband. 

    I hope I did not confuse you further. If you have not read my novel-sized post about empathy, please do (See: WHAT ABOUT ASPERGER’S SYNDROME AND EMPATHY).  I give a lot more examples of what the cognitive vs. affective behaviors look like in action to show how they feed off one another negatively in Aspie-NT interpersonal relationships. 

    Thank you for taking the time to read and consider my thoughts. I hope that others will express their confusion as you have and give us more insight or opportunities to clear up misunderstandings.  

     


  • 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!


  • HOW TO TEACH EMPATHY TO SOMEONE WITH ASPERGER’S SYNDROME part 1

    Part 1: It can’t be done, can it?

              Ok, so I know you NT wives wish there was some easy method of getting your husband to think the way you do.  Hell, I think every couple out there wishes they could get their spouse to just “grasp” what they are thinking sometimes. 

                    We think we want this but honestly, it would probably suck royally if our spouse DID know everything we were thinking on any given day.  What we really want is for our husband to be able to empathize with us a little more; or in an Aspie-NT marriage… at all.

                    Why can’t our husband ever empathize with us?  We have tried everything we could think of over the years (and decades for some) and yet we still come up short.  They just don’t appear to comprehend or care how we are feeling. 

                    As I have said before, there are two types of empathy we are waiting for; cognitive and affective (emotional) empathy (if you have not read that post, stop here and read THIS first).  Nine out of ten times you need cognitive empathy to be able to feel the affective kind (Kara-Stat).  The good news is your husband already has emotional empathy.  So you don’t have to teach that one; sweet, we’re halfway there… unless the Kara-statistic is legit, then we’re only 10% of the way there.

                    Yeah, yeah, I know.  It doesn’t always “feel” like he has even 10% of his empathetic ability functioning.  I get it.  Remember, affective/emotional empathy is when you are aware that someone is hurting, it makes you feel hurt, and you want to alleviate that emotional anguish for the plagued person.  Since your husband is very rarely AWARE that you are hurting, he can’t exactly respond appropriately or give a crap about feelings he doesn’t know exist.  Your husband does not have cognitive empathy; the ability to pick up on facial cues, body language, and underlying meaning behind words that indicate what someone is thinking/feeling.  No matter how hard you try to get your feelings across to him, unless you verbalize them in a clear, non-threatening and non-accusatory way, he isn’t going to be able to ever give you the emotional empathy you need to feel better and move forward in a happy marriage.   

                    It is vitally important to comprehend the difference between the two types of empathy if you want your marriage to be happy.

                    Most professionals out there will dismiss my claim that those with Aspergers are entirely absent of cognitive empathy.  Actually, I think almost every professional would tell me that I am not correct in this blanket assumption at all and there are so many other factors involved.  I will also bet that these professionals are not neurotypicals married to an adult with Aspergers who went undiagnosed well-into adulthood.  It is easy to say “No way, it isn’t that simple” when you are not actually living with this dynamic.  These professionals can counsel, provide therapy for, or study hundreds of thousands of people with Aspergers, but until they are intimately involved and see what we NT wives do… they are just not in a position to discount something that really is so simple.  They are definitely not in a position to do so when there is about as much information out there to back my theory as there is to refute it. 

                    Neuroscience and genetics are still lacking in the study of empathy and those who have made it their life’s work to study empathy (Simon Baron-Cohen being one of the few) tend to lean more toward the idea that cognitive empathy IS entirely absent for aspies.  Baron-Cohen also seems to lean toward the idea that affective empathy is also so far removed that he struggles to commit to the fact that Aspies DO have this ability.  Again though, most professionals are studying those with Asperger’s syndrome and their interpersonal relationships from outside the box.  If they don’t know what it is we NT wives saw in our husbands that made us fall for them in the first place, it is easy to dismiss that we DID see emotional empathy in the beginning.  We knew the man we loved was different (and certainly not cunning enough to be a sociopath) but we felt loved by him once… and that kind of love cannot exist without emotional empathy.  Due to misunderstandings and a lack of knowledge about what Asperger’s syndrome actually meant for our communication abilities within the marriage, we watched the feelings of love and security that come from emotional empathy fade to the point we began to convince ourselves we imagined it in the beginning.  Even Baron-Cohen suggests that our husbands had a mimic-like behavior of “normal men” in the initial days of dating but did not actually possess empathy toward us.  I disagree with this and I will bet that a large part of your pain came from questioning those early days and wondering how you could have been duped into seeing something that did not exist.  You were not duped, you just behaved a little different back then as well, and your husband had not yet build up a defensive fortress to keep you out.

                    So here is it:

                    Your husband does not have cognitive empathy and you really cannot teach it to him in a useful way (perhaps someday).

                    IT IS THAT SIMPLE

                    It makes me sad that everything is so over-complicated and I will say for the millionth time that lumping Asperger’s syndrome into Autism did NOT help this.  Instead of focusing on therapy that could help make sense of everything that snowballed from this ONE cognitive deficit, we exist in a society that has no practical advice to give adult men with Asperger’s syndrome or the NT women who are married to them. 

    (Don’t hate me Aspie women or NT men… I know you exist just the same)

                    So why should you believe what I am telling you when I cannot scientifically prove my theory either? 

                    For starters, I have seen the changes I prayed for occur in my marriage when I am patient enough to turn off my own instinctive style of communicating (for a second) and utilize the language my husband can comprehend.  

    Humor this analogy for me:

     

    Imagine that English is your first language and you took a few semesters in French at school and enjoyed it enough that you decided to go on a study-abroad trip for a semester to solidify what you had learned.  While in France, you met an incredible man in the grocery store who took your breath away and gave you an instinctual feeling of comfort. To your complete joy, this French man was equally smitten by you and the two of you could not deny the magnetic connection you had made in such a chance encounter. You spend the entire semester with this man and by the time you are supposed to return to the U.S., you had both fallen passionately in love with one another. Even though you barely spoke his language, it had been enough to communicate the words required to solidify this magnificent bond… but neither of you realized HOW MUCH French you still had to learn if you were going to keep this magic from fading as fast as it appeared.

    Now imagine that you and this man cannot stand the thought of being apart and you make a bold move to take your love to a new level and get married so you can stay in France with him.  You know that this is risky, but you also know in your heart that you cannot walk away from this gut-feeling that you have to take this risk!

    At first, the transition to a new world is exciting and you embrace the new culture and your new love’s environment with incredible enthusiasm. Eventually though, you find it more and more challenging to acclimate to this foreign land and even more difficult to communicate to your husband how you are feeling.  Sure, your French has improved a bit, particularly when you were highly motivated to learn as much as possible in the initial days of romantic infatuation… but now you need to be fluent in the language if you want to express your needs and feelings to your new spouse in a way he can comprehend.  It is not until you try to talk about the complexity of your emotional feelings that you realize how very limited your communication ability actually is in his native tongue.

    Imagine if every time you tried to get your feelings across to him, he looked at you with indifference because you weren’t making any sense. The more frustrated this failure to express something so important (to someone so important) becomes, the worse you become at articulating your needs in French.  Imagine if everything you tried to convey came out as confused messages to your new husband and you become so overwhelmed you begin defaulting to English.  Regardless of how hard you try to explain your feelings articulately in English to him, he is unable to comprehend a word you are saying.  Your French husband does not know a SINGLE WORD in English and he has less comprehension of your communication attempts than when you were using poorly-constructed French.

    You want to step in here and say that if your new husband LOVED YOU, than HE would try to learn ENGLISH and the two of you could meet in the middle… right?!?!?

    Well, try to imagine that he has a neuro-deficit in the lobes of his brain that control language and he hasn’t the neurological ability to EVER understand English… despite how much he wishes he could (for your sake).

    What do you do?  There are really only three options to consider:

    1. Do you leave this man you fell in love with? A man that you “could” learn to communicate effectively with, but it requires your efforts to learn a second language as fluently as your know your first one?  

    2. Do you stay in the marriage and defiantly continue speaking English and praying he is going to magically comprehend your words someday? Do you staunchly refuse to learn French better because it “isn’t fair” that you have to be the one doing all the hard work?

    Or…

    3. Do you accept the things that you cannot change, remove blame and fault from your husband (who wishes more than anything that he could understand and speak English for your benefit, because he adores you)… and do you just try like hell to learn to speak French every single day until you can communicate with the same ease you do by utilizing English?  

    #3 is the option required of you to apply the cognitive empathy deficit your husband has to effectively bridging the gap of communication in your marriage.

    YES, IT IS THAT SIMPLE. 

     

                    Simple does not mean easy.  This is no simple task to ask of someone… not at all! Not by a long shot and HOLY CRAP do you have your work cut out for you if you want to take on such a challenging endeavor.

    Is it worth it?

    If you consider that analogy, what would you tell that woman?  Would you tell her to just suck it up and work hard to learn French because it is something that she “is capable” of doing, and he is not? Would you tell her that if that is ALL that truly stands between her and the love of her life’s potential for effective communication and a happy future, she would be a fool to not at least TRY?  

    The thing is, even in a dynamic like that (which makes more sense to people than this cognitive empathy deficit often does), no one is thinking about the incredibly justifiable resentment that woman is going to feel as she puts forth the majority of initial effort to bridge the communication gap in the marriage.

    If someone could promise that woman that at the end of her seemingly one-sided and exhaustive efforts; her husband would be on the other end ready to join her in a mutually beneficial marriage with equal effort for the remainder of the relationship… would it seem like an easier choice to make?  If there was proof that relationships like this can and do exist (there are), then wouldn’t the many examples of failed relationships of this nature seem like less of a threat?

    This analogy is very appropriate for an Aspie-NT marriage… the problem is, no one ever identified what the language barrier WAS and therefore, no one can provide examples of proven success for an NT reluctant to take on such a profound effort.  

    I understand that you all want “proof” before you will buy into such a daunting task, but this is something you have to learn to apply on an individual level because not everyone has the capacity to invest the type of commitment it would require (particularly after years of failure that make any further efforts on your behalf seem unworthy). All I ask is that you pick #1 or #3 on that list… you’ve been stuck in #2 for so damn long that you have to realize THAT option is never going to yield success.

    My husband and I are far from perfect and this is not smooth sailing by any means… but we are both genuinely happy, both trying, and both beginning to finally understand one another and fall in love again.  When we have misunderstandings now… they STILL turn into silly fights that are ridiculous and unnecessary (again, I am not claiming this is easy).  The difference is, my husband John and I are learning to put ourselves in check (on our own) and come back to the other person with a calm and effective use of words to clear up our communication breakdowns now, instead of letting them spiral out of control.  What would have been a stupid fight that led to a week of hostility, tears, and ignoring one another is now a stupid fight that leads to a few hours apart and one of us initiating the peace treaty.  In all honesty, my husband is the one reaching out to resolve conflict first these days, and I am beginning to realize what a stubborn jerk I can be and finally learning how to correct some of my own negative behavior patterns. 

                    No one made this light-bulb go on for me.  After years of searching for help in person, online, by reading and communicating with others in my shoes… there was never any magic moment that helped me finally discover what was broken in our marriage, and why.  What it took was years of reading everything I could find about Asperger’s syndrome, emotional abuse, toxic relationships, couples therapy, mental health diseases and disorders, personality disorders, brain development, successful couples and overall family dynamics.  I wrote down everything that seemed useful.  I read advice from religious counselors, psychologists, sociologists, psychiatrists, spiritual gurus, other neurotypicals, and those with Aspergers.  I wrote down anything that seemed beneficial.  I searched for people in terrible relationships and how and why they got out, and I wrote it down.  I looked up everything I could about people in happy marriages from those that were young to those that had been married for sixty years, and I wrote it down.  In the end I was left with endless notes, highlighted articles and books, and a ton of bookmarked web pages that got me no closer to saving my marriage than when I began. 

                    Useless on their own, these compilations of information served to isolate what was really going on in my marriage when I went back to them as a whole.  

                    The hardest thing for me to ever accept was that my husband did not have empathy… toward me or anyone else.  Equally hard was that he did have empathy, just not for me.  This concept caused me more agony than anything else along my journey for answers.  No one could ever really pinpoint what empathy meant to them though.  I decided that if John could not have emotional empathy… if he had no capacity for it… than I would not stay with him because that would mean he was akin to a psychopath. I saw no world in which a human was completely devoid of emotional empathy and could be considered a good person, so there was no way I could stay with someone that was inherently evil.  When I tried to apply this concept, I knew it did not fit.  Outside of not being calculating or smooth enough to manipulate anyone (like psychopaths can) he did not appear to derive any pleasure at all from my negative emotions, quite the opposite of the only other identified humans without emotional empathy.  When this rationale for ending my marriage failed, I tried to apply the opposite to it.  If John did have emotional empathy, that meant he was just an asshole who didn’t love me or care how I was feeling.  This didn’t fit either since I knew that I was the only person (besides his parents) that ever meant anything to him or that he ever really invested any interest or attention in.  I wasn’t entirely smart enough to go full steam into the field of neuroscience, but I put enough effort into trying to decipher what was going on biologically with my husband to realize that avenue was just as hopeless as the rest (at this time). 

                    I wanted to leave my failing marriage because I had no understanding of why we were so miserable and no direction to turn to for a brighter future.  I just didn’t want to leave until I had some tangible answers in my hand to tell me there stood no potential for happiness.  As much as the statistics on failed and/or miserable Aspie-NT marriages confirmed we were screwed, I still wanted something that would alleviate my future feelings of guilt for “giving up” on us.  Call me selfish, but that was one of the major things that kept me in a miserable marriage for so long; I did not want to walk until I knew for certain it wasn’t my fault and I tried everything I could.

                    It was only going back through personal accounts from those with an Asperger diagnosis that I began to really focus on their childhood and recognize a pattern in all of my years of searching.  I really honed in on this pattern and turned back to the writings of parents who have Aspie children and realized they were confirming what I thought, day after day, writing after writing.  I opened up all of the books I had read (with NT and Aspie authors) and saw the same thing within the subtext.  I went back to the “beginning” accounts of NT-Aspie marriages and how they came to be… same thing.  I looked at the psychological profiles and diagnostic criteria… check.  Neurological imaging that had been done and compared it to what is known about empathy to date… yup.  Then I began to apply this to my husband, and to all of the Aspies I interact with professionally and it all seemed to finally make sense. 

                    Despite all of the behaviors, deficits, comorbidities, and other “connections” made about those with Aspergers, the only constant that accounts for all of it is that there is no cognitive empathy.  They all had affective empathy in their youth, every single one (but seemed absent of it in adult relationships).  The only common link in every example I have ever seen regarding Asperger’s syndrome that can be applied across the board is this lack of cognitive empathy.  When you really start picking apart an Aspie’s social experiences from the beginning, the lack of cognitive empathy can be attributed to damn-near every manifestation of negative adult behavior.  Obviously we are all unique individuals and everyone’s life experience shapes who they are.  I’m sure that some adult Aspies really are just assholes, as are their neurotypical counterparts.  In giving the benefit of the doubt to those out there with enough heart to be searching for answers, I would have to say most of the people I have gleamed this insight from really are good people at their core.  Honestly, I am a little inclined to say that the adult Aspies I have met and learned from tend to be a little more decent than your average NT.   

                    With all of the things I had tried in my marriage to “get through” to my husband, nothing worked until I applied the knowledge that he did not have cognitive empathy.  When I told him this, he got defensive as though I was telling him once again why everything was his fault and why he was broken and I was not.  Having never heard this very simple explanation about his processing abilities, it was completely understandable that he denied it.  I didn’t have a shred of evidence to back what I was saying to him and there was no way he would entertain my stack of literature and highlighted connections.  After so many years of being told different things by “professionals” who had it all figured out (including the pills he could swallow to be normal) he just didn’t have the openness left to humor one more theory about his life of social injustices.  I don’t blame him.  By that point I had tried to apply a million other theories and methods to improve him and our life (never realizing the change was predominantly mine to make). 

                    I spent a few weeks trying to get John to listen to what I was saying to him about cognitive empathy and getting angry and frustrated that he would not.  I still had not fully realized the personal changes I had to make in order to alter the path we were on so I was doggedly focused instead on making him understand what cognitive empathy was (not sure how I expected HIM to fix anything if he had listened to me).  The more I tried to strike up conversation about this, the harder the door slammed in my face (because I was trying to explain it all to him in a foreign language, rather than one he could comprehend!).  John was hell-bent on avoiding any communication that might evoke emotion from me so despite this enlightened epiphany I had, it held zero practical value in salvaging our dying marriage.  

    Going back to that foreign language analogy: despite grasping the difference between cognitive and emotional empathy, I had very little skill in applying it to my marriage.  The problem was… I couldn’t see that.  Each and every time I attempted to speak to John about “what was wrong” in our relationship, I began speaking to him in French and he was willing to listen for a moment.  Without ever realizing I was doing it, I rapidly defaulted to English (my natural language of communication) within minutes of his initial willingness to hear me out. The INSTANT John heard a single English word come out of my mouth, he was DONE TALKING! Since I had no idea I was still failing to accomplish something I thought I had a firm grasp on, I continued to think it was John who was failing me.  

    We had gotten to a point where he was fearful in discussing anything with me other than trivial small talk.

                    After some time, I resolved to give up.  I really believed I understood what went wrong in John’s life and in our marriage.  I tried very hard to disprove my new theory, but the more I tried (by way of continued reading) the more I solidified my belief that it was at the heart of everything.  Of course, none of it mattered because John wasn’t open to the idea that there was anything wrong or different between he and I and laughed off the suggestion that he was missing “nonverbal” messages everyone else could readily see, as though he was not aware of “another language” even existing (he wasn’t). If we could not move forward with this new understanding, then we could no longer stay in the same place, we had to move apart.  I got John a flight back to his home state and prepped for the end.  At least I finally had the answer I was looking for, and I would know that it wasn’t my fault our marriage ultimately failed because I could blame John for refusing to communicate with me.

                    One evening, with bags packed and a flight the following morning, John broke down.  This time it was for real.  He sat on the floor between our bed and his closet and just sobbed.  He cried in a way I needed to see… the way I had sat on the floor and cried so many times before.  I wasn’t kind or empathetic toward him at all.  Instead, I spoke firmly without any degree of emotion and I gave him one alternative to staying, one option that would make me believe we had a shot at fixing our marriage.  To my surprise, he agreed to do anything I asked.

                    The next morning, we went to the store and purchased a GoPro HERO Session(which was the smallest camera I could find) to begin my plan of attack.  24 hours a day, 7 days a week I would wear a camera on my head and document our life as I saw it.  John agreed to willingly allow this to happen.

                    If I could get my husband to literally walk in my shoes by seeing life through my eyes (or through the lens of a camera) I could get him to finally understand where I was coming from.  I thought I had discovered a way to teach empathy to my husband.  I ended up teaching myself a whole lot more…

     


  • ASPERGER/NT MARRIAGE ADVICE: WHERE DO I GO FOR HOPE?

    Step #1:  Begin with this…

    Let’s first identify the “help” you have already stumbled upon

    I have mentioned that I have “Found the end of the internet” in search of anything that could help my marriage. This is a very heavy claim to put out to the world, but it is exactly how I have felt after years of searching and coming up empty in regard to useful advice on how to better my relationship with my Aspie husband. There are plenty of places to go to when a person types in, “Asperger Marriage.” You will find tons of websites dedicated to one side or the other, and within those pages you will read hundreds of comments about a relationship in turmoil or someone from the opposite neuro-side vehemently combating the words the previous commenter had to say. There is a lot of resentment, frustration, and anger within the context of every blog or article post that leans heavily on one side or the other.

    Then there are the articles published by individuals who have a “title” behind their name lending assumed credibility to the advice they have to dole out. I have yet to discover one of those articles containing anything but vague oversimplifications in lieu of useful guidance on how to make an Aspie/NT marriage happy. The majority of the time they are giving a broad overview to entice the reader to purchase their book or subscribe to their page in order to generate a financial profit while giving nothing substantial in return. I have been a sucker for these self-proclaimed experts and I have put my credit card information in to more of these websites than I care to admit to. I don’t actually know if I am embarrassed to say that, or if there is a part of me that takes pride in knowing I have truly sought out every web-based offering I could uncover. Regardless of how I now feel about the wasted money I have pumped into the pockets of undeserving “professionals” out there, I feel as though it has afforded me the right to tell you not to waste your own money.  I can now tell you for certain that the claim that you will find answers after providing a small amount of currency, are groundless. On the other end of the payment screen, you will receive no more than you had before you hit submit and you will regretfully discover you wasted more money on answers that none of these people have.

    It is my personal belief that none of them have the answers because none of them actually know what it is like to exist in an NT/Aspie relationship and are therefore guessing and attempting to implement what their cherished professional literature has taught them. Remember that the professional literature in existence on Asperger’s Syndrome is scant, and there are no significant studies yielding successful/proven therapy for Asperger/NT relationships that anyone can passionately stand behind. You have the same access to the tools they utilize to dish out advice if you take the time to look for them, so it is with my strong urging that I implore you to cease your searches for specialized guidance within the context of online articles.

     

    The most important thing you can do for your relationship is problem-solve for yourself

     

    There will never exist a single person who can provide you with the right advice on how to remedy your own interpersonal difficulties within your marriage other than you and your spouse working together. So then the next question is, “How do I get us to work together when he is so disinterested in doing so?”

    The answer to this is to utilize a step-by-step process. You must first truly educate yourself on your husband and the way his mind works (yes, I agree with THAT “expert” advice). Your husband is not going to do this, and he is not going to suddenly stand up and proclaim that he is incredibly vested in learning all about you and the way your mind works. Keep wishing, it isn’t going to happen. If your husband does do this you are in a very, very rare minority and you are the envy of every other NT/Aspie couple out there.

    If you are in the majority and just starting out, I highly recommend beginning with the book The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood.

    This book is and always will be the launching point to understanding your husband and giving you the foundation you will need to begin learning how to problem solve for yourself. While I mentioned that you do not necessarily need to seek expert advice to help your marriage, I would be remiss if I did not tell you that there is zero chance you are going to figure it out on your own if you do not educate yourself first on what Asperger’s Syndrome actually means and how it affects your husband’s daily functioning. It is incredibly important to start at the beginning of his life and comprehend how a child with Aspergers comes to develop the negative behavior patterns that exist as an adult. In this book you will be taken back to the start, and you may even find yourself developing a sobering sense of sadness when you imagine what it must have been like to grow up the way he did, never knowing WHY he was so “different.” This level of empathy is going to help you on your journey to finding the answers you seek, I promise.

    Even if you have been married years and have read all about your Aspie husband, if you have not read THAT book… pick it up. You can go through this link (The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome), you can go to the bookstore, you can ask other NT’s to share it with you… however you get it in your hands, you really SHOULD read it. If your husband is not diagnosed, or if you suspect he has Aspergers but are not yet certain, this book will help you solidify and confirm your own suspicions. I recommend you also grab a highlighter if you have the paper version because this is fun (ok, not really fun, but definitely enlightening). As you read, highlight the things that sound familiar or resonate with you in regard to your husband, self, or relationship. I tell you to do this because there is an incredible likelihood that by the time you finish the last sentence, you will realize that you have highlighted far more words than not. You can look at that incredible amount of bold color and realize you have your confirmation and you no longer need to question what you already know in your heart to be true.

    Ok, so you have read the book and it is bright pink, or yellow, or whatever color you chose. Now what?

    The next thing I suggest is going to the RIGHT webpage for the hard cold blunt reality check you need to determine exactly what you are up against. The book will make you have a ton of emotions and the humanizing of your husband will serve as your base when you go on to the crude truth that frightens you and makes you cry yourself to sleep at night.

    Of the many options before you to go to, there is one website that I have always found my way back to because of its genuine accuracy called The Neurotypical Site. I have enjoyed this because there is no ambiguity about who this website was intended for, and there are no hateful words within it (outside of some comments by readers). It was created for an NT partner (predominantly female/wife) who is married to an Asperger partner (predominantly male/husband) and it is a good place to go to after developing a fact-based understanding of your Aspie husband.

    I cannot say that The Neurotypical Site is an overly positive or motivating website because it is not filled to the brim with happy stories and inspiring words to keep the NT in their relationship and fill them with hope. It is quite the opposite of a place to inspire hope in you, it is more of a place to find like-minded people who will offer the incredibly important sense that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. When you are married or in a long-term relationship with an Aspie, you are going to feel like you are alone A LOT, and this sense of isolation can and does create an NT who begins to aspergate themselves without realizing it (See: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ASPERGATED).  <—- this post is still pending (I am working on it diligently, I promise)

    No, this website will not make you feel happy, and it is not meant to. It is not meant to offer the same insensitive advice that professionals dish out telling the NT partner to adapt and adjust their thinking patterns and behaviors to their Aspie mate in order to create a harmonious home. That is the worst thing you can do if you want to make your marriage successful and mutually beneficial to both parties. The author/s of the website tell it like it is, straight up, without mincing words. They are not nasty or cruel in their depiction of what an Aspie/NT marriage or relationship is like, they are just honest and unapologetic and what they say is both accurate and comforting to the NT woman who stumbles upon their words.

    With all of that being said, I can appreciate how someone with Asperger’s Syndrome would read the pages within this website and think that it is both unfair and incorrect. I can certainly see why they would think it spreads hate-filled words to the world about their disorder. This other side, comprised of individuals with Aspergers are not wrong to perceive it this way. From their perspective, the things said within this website are inaccurate and bigoted because they are unable to see how their actions or words are received on your end. Without the natural use of Theory of Mind, their intentions are all they know to be real. If an Aspie had no intent to cause you harm in their words or actions, there is no chance they are going to believe you when you tell them they did.

    As you navigate through this website I would like to highlight two very important pages that I have copied and gone back to many times over the years. I would love to copy and paste these into my post but I will refrain from doing so without permission of the author/s. I will discuss the content to some degree because I think it is important for the NT spouse to go back to these often when you find yourself completely paralyzed by the compounding frustrations of your failed attempts at communicating.

    The first is The Bottom Line which lists the somber and upsetting truth of what you will or may already feel is your life and the role you currently play in your relationship. I completely agree with this list and I absolutely believe this WILL be your future if you are unable, unwilling, or unsure of how to alter this dynamic. It is important to read this because I want you to know you are not alone in how you feel, and while you may not want to readily admit that this is your current world, at some point you will come back to it and find yourself submitting and accepting it as reality. The only thing missing from the list is number 13, the author says that if there were a number 13 it would be to “Give it up before you get involved.” I disagree, I think it should say:

     

    This is going to be your Bottom Line unless you radically shift your perspective and think far outside the box that’s been set before you.

     

    The second page on The Neurotypical Site is a table called the Effects of Differing Neuro/Developmental Levels on Neurotypical/Autism Spectrum Adult Relationships. I cannot stress enough how imperative it will be for you to keep this table close by at all times if you want to REALLY begin to understand how your communication attempts go awry, you need to have this readily available to you. Each and every time you find yourself faltering in creating or maintaining a meaningful discussion with your husband, every time his words, actions, or lack thereof cause you grief… look at this table. Find yourself on the left and follow the row to the resulting feelings you are experiencing. This is going to give you a greater understanding of the cognitive processes at play on both ends directly AFTER a misunderstanding or negative reaction occurs. Having this tool is also going to be vital to you in immediately validating the resulting feelings you are experiencing.

    I will disclose that looking at this table and the The Bottom Line list at this point in my relationship with my husband, I no longer view those black and white words as concrete and unalterable.

    I have felt and agree with everything printed within these two pages, and I recommend them to you as your secondary launching point after reading Tony Attwood’s book. It was absolutely imperative for me to utilize both of these tools to get to the place I am at today. I cycled back and forth many times reading the book and that website and found myself falling down a rabbit hole of other damaging articles and blogs along the way (that served no purpose outside of created resentment and utter despair in my search for happiness). Eventually, I was able to re-ground myself. In the end, going back to the book, re-reading it in its entirety, and then keeping that list and table close by and continuously referencing it for nearly five months, I found the inspiration to begin shifting the dynamic that those two reference points suggested were my definitive future.

    I am not bullsh*ting you when I tell you that your life does NOT have to play out this way, it CAN be different. Your husband can learn to behave empathetically toward you, and although he will never see the world through the same eyes, you can help him see through yours and vice versa once all the defensive coping mechanisms that are keeping you separated get broken down.  This can happen.  There exists the potential for you to be more than a caretaker to your husband, and there exists the potential that your husband will begin to WANT to take care of you as well. I know, I am living it as I type these words.

    Start with those two recommendations and I will lead you on to Step #2

    If you really follow them, this is the very first and most important step you can take toward discovering and developing your own problem solving skills to better your marriage.

    I would not tell you this if I did not believe in my heart it was going to work.  I came back to Step #1 many times, and it was not until I actually did these two things and avoided all of the other options out there (to fix my relationship) that I began to see a pathway before me that had not previously existed.  

    If you have not already read this post, it is my STEP #2:

    See: WHAT ABOUT ASPERGER’S SYNDROME AND EMPATHY?

     

     

     


  • ASPERGER/NT MARRIAGE HELP: WHERE CAN I FIND A GOOD SUPPORT GROUP?

    The question every Neurotypical spouse asks at some point

    download
    I am a super big fan of these guys

    Update:  

    I took this post offline for a while for three reasons:  1. I was pissed off.  2.  I questioned if it could truly benefit an NT wife living with an adult Aspie. 3. I did want to endorse spending money on anything about Asperger’s syndrome (in general) unless I could personally attest to the value of it.  So let me explain:

    I went to this forum religiously (for reasons explained below in the original post). I always knew when I posted a question to the members that I would receive some flak and responses filled with sheer ignorance about Asperger’s syndrome.  I always used those responses to inspire why I needed to begin sharing what “I” knew to be true. One day I opted to link my blog post: WHAT ABOUT ASPERGER’S SYNDROME AND EMPATHY? to see how the members would receive my opinions.  I fell asleep after posting it and awakened to a few personal emails that indicated my post had stirred up some hate-filled and bitter responses with ensuing arguments that got nasty (either toward me, or between forum members).  While the emails I received were ones telling me they enjoyed the post, or found it insightful, they also told me they thought it royally “sucked” the entire post had been removed by the forum administrators.  I had no idea that it had sparked all of this emotion, nor did I know it had been removed from the website at the time I read those emails.  I wish I could have stayed awake long enough to know exactly what the context was of all the negativity I had inadvertently instigated, but I never had the opportunity to read any of it because the forum administrators took that away from me.  

    On this particular website, we all write controversial things (as ASD, Autism, Asperger’s syndrome and talking about something as important and emotional as our children does frequently trigger intense feelings).  It is not abnormal for many posts to lead to snarky comments and utter rudeness toward members with opposing viewpoints.  If someone gets particularly nasty, the forum administrators will delete their comment, but not the whole post that fueled the emotion.  

    One of the reasons I kept going back was because the platform was so open, as I believed it was promoting honest discussions that need to occur about a topic so taboo and unknown in society.  This initial reason for being willing to pay to be a member of the group got me thinking.. there I was, advocating to my blog readers to consider this unexpected group (Aspie parents) to help them learn valuable lessons, perhaps they weren’t as “open” as I originally perceived? Despite not agreeing with the majority of information put out on it by the members themselves (not the authors), I was mature enough to look past that and find something beneficial from my membership.

    When I learned my entire post was removed, I felt rather betrayed by the very creators.  I felt that they had cherry-picked my insight and opinion as being “too controversial” to leave up, while having no urge to remove the countless morons out there blaming vaccines and other unproven or ridiculous media-hyped links to Autism Spectrum Disorders.  It was because of this selective censorship that I became angry and took down this blog post for almost four months.

    This pissed off feeling made me question whether or not the recommendation of other NT wives reading what these parents had to say would benefit them or cause them to feel more alienated and misunderstood.  It was because of this pissed off feeling that I decided I would not allow an endorsement that cost money to be made by me if there was any chance it could cause more harm than good.

    Ultimately… after much consideration (and re-reading the original post), I decided that I would open it back up for you to decide for yourselves if there is something to benefit from it. In the end, I still admit this is the only group membership that ever benefited me in any way (despite joining many others in the past).

    While I believe only one of the original founders of Asperger Experts is still involved in the website, I still have to say that it is worth checking out if you are interested in how current members of society who are actively raising Aspie sons (like your husband) are receiving, processing, and making sense of the information they have.  I think it will be beneficial to you to look inside the minds of these parents for many reasons but most of all, the creators do give an interesting glimpse into what it might have been like “in the mind” of your husband when he was younger.

     

    ORIGINAL POST:

    When a neurotypical wife begins their hunt for “like minds” to begin processing Asperger’s syndrome, they often consider joining forums to share their story and get advice.  More often then not, their search begins with reading tons of articles on the subject. When an NT spouse reads these articles, they may think, “Ok, this is good” but then when they look beneath it, realize that upwards of 90% of every response/comment is from an NT spouse who has (or is about to) give up on their marriage.

    What began as a hunt for help turns into a feeling of hopelessness as they come upon more stories of utter negativity and failure.

    I began looking into and following Asperger forums written by Aspies themselves (to avoid the hopeless NT pitfall). I had simply given up on the hostile and broken NT ones and had long-since abandoned the “professional insight” ones (since they never really gave me tangible advice I could utilize).  I thought perhaps going directly to the people who live in my husband’s fascinating world would yield better results.  I figured, if for nothing else, they could offer something the others could not.

    Unfortunately, despite still following many of these writers and loving what they have to say and how they express their difficulties, challenges, successes, and general perspectives… I still came up empty in finding practical means of helping my own marriage.  It was/is sometimes frustrating to read the words of Aspie’s and know that they do not understand what it is that they are doing “wrong” that causes so much angst from the NT community (so they ironically vent equally about NT’s and their cruel and un-empathetic behavior).  I think that it is important for an NT spouse to read what the Aspie bloggers have to write still, and I will link you to some of my favorite websites in future posts that you may also love.

    For purposes of something that might actually “help” you, this is what I opted to do at the end of my internet search for a good forum to join.  I wholeheartedly recommend to adult NT spouses married to a partner with Asperger’s Syndrome to do this:

    Consider finding a DIFFERENT group of people for advice

    I belong to a forum for parents of Asperger/Autism diagnosed children.  In all of my attempts to locate a group of positive people to provide support for my struggles, it was only this group that ever offered it.

    With this private group forum I go to (daily) being dedicated to parents who are desperate to provide a good life for their children (is there any motivation stronger than that?) I get to see people who will never offer advice to “leave” or abandon their children.  This provides me with a new perspective of what it is like to see people who are also met with failure and struggles every day, who continue to maintain an optimistic outlook and strive for “something else” each time one avenue proves unsuccessful.

    Since I hope I have sparked some interest in what group I am referring to exactly, I will let you in on my big secret. This group was founded by two young adult men, Danny and Hayden, who have Asperger’s Syndrome (they call themselves ASPERGER EXPERTS) and honestly… they are absolutely deserving of the title more than anyone else who uses their professional credentials to try to justify being deserving of such a term.

    In ALL of the things I have read and searched for over the past five years, these guys (barely into adulthood themselves) have managed to make more sense of my husband than any adult or professional EVER COULD.  They are phenomenal men who are doing a wonderful service for parents of children diagnosed with Aspergers.  They refer to their forum as an “Asperger & Autism Parent Support Network” but I think by their self-proclaimed title you may see that they are what I consider “straight-up-Aspies” and likely as deserving of the Autism Spectrum Disorder label as my husband (sarcasm).  <—- If you have read my other posts, you are likely aware that I am NOT a huge supporter of the umbrella term ASD (to put it mildly).

    The most incredible thing about these two Asperger Experts?  They are being paid fractions of what the “professionals” are making to spout off all of their brilliance in one useless therapy session!  I pay $14.99 per month to have access to better information and tools than any book I have purchased ever yielded (and I paid far more than that amount per month on wasted literature), so I recommend them to anyone who would like to find a “different” perspective who are also willing to spare some extra cash.

    What do I mean by a new or different perspective?

    The support groups intended to be positive for women married to Aspie men always end up being fueled with advice to get out as soon as possible and limitless stories of their Aspie’s negative behaviors and attributes.  They seemed to want to help one another initially (if you go back to the origins of the forums), but since every effort on their behalf ultimately fails… the only help they can offer in the end is to advise other women to stop wasting their lives and get divorced.

    That is why the perspective of parents who would never allow the thought of leaving their own beloved child is so important to a Neurotypical wife who really just wants help, not tips on running away quickly.

    It was in large, because of these parents that I first began adapting my attitude about my husband John.  I began to consider that maybe I should try to regard him with the same dedication I would give my daughter B, instead of always having one foot out the door.  Since abandoning my child would NEVER be an option to consider; I wondered how my mindset could change if I chose to delete that option for my marriage as well.  

    The only problem with this forum (for an NT wife seeking help in her marriage) and the wonderful insight from these two guys is that they fall short of having a true grasp of what it is like to navigate through a marriage like mine or John’s.  They are the small statistic who has figured out enough to potentially avoid the very dynamic we (and so many others) exist in, and thankfully they are reaching thousands of parents with their insight to help those children grow into successful happy adults like they are.

    Obviously another problem is that, THEY HAVE ASPERGER’S SYNDROME!  They are not going to be able to decipher what that “means” for the neurotypicals in their life and they do not attempt to make sense of that very often.  

    Their focus is on enlightening NTs about how the young Aspie mind receives and responds to the world around them.  They haven’t the insight to enlighten an Aspie to the NT side (obviously not something to hold them accountable to).

    Because of their inability to speak on behalf of an adult NT/Aspie relationship, even with the new found enlightenment they have given me, the path still hits a dead end for my marriage in a lot of ways.  It is one thing to begin to identify and correct coping behaviors and misunderstandings in a person’s childhood and adolescence… it is an entirely different ballgame when we are talking about 30+ years of negative behaviors and belief-systems that are near-impossible to penetrate.

    It is far easier for a parent to influence the behavior of their child than a spouse for their husband.  As an NT spouse, we do not hold the awesome ability to utilize the same consequences for behavior and/or positive reinforcement and rewards that most parents have at their disposal.  In fact, if we offer ultimatums to our adult Aspie husband, we can typically expect a terribly hostile and defensive defiance… which creates the very parent/child dynamic we are so desperate to extinguish in our adult partnership.

     

    Regardless of the inability to speak directly on the topic of an Asperger Marriage, the tools Danny and Hayden give are a phenomenal foundation in any Aspie/NT dynamic and the support group members themselves… priceless!  

    Fair warning:  The parents (mostly moms) in this forum do not mince words and they are unapologetic in their critiques or opinions (I actually find this helpful once I let go of my instinctive feeling of rejection when they disagree with me).  If you are someone who does not handle rejection from outsiders well, tread lightly before you post a strong opinion on here.  If these parents think (for even a split second) that your words are incorrect, biased, or painting a bad light on the children they love… they are like mama-bears protecting their cubs and go for blood.  

    On the flip side, there are no bigger advocates then these parents when it comes to finding answers and help (as misguided and misinformed as they often are).  It is not lost on me that these mothers can become a driving force to altering the current crash-course Asperger/Autism education is on (if they ever get the right information in their hands).  

    Since you will never find a group of people that rally behind one another for a positive cause (to better their children’s future) like these parents, I would be remiss if I did not share with you that this website/forum has helped me.  It is worthy of consideration if you are tired of listening to people who think giving up is the only viable option.


  • ASPERGER MARRIAGE: WHAT DOES AUTISM SPECTRUM MEAN?

    IT MEANS THE PROFESSIONALS ARE FAILING US…


  • ASPIE/NT MARRIAGE: WHAT DOES ALTRUISM HAVE TO DO WITH IT?

    IT PUT YOU THERE & IT KEEPS YOU THERE… How altruism plays a significant role in an Asperger/Neurotypical marriage


Page 1 of 212