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I believe my husband has Asperger Syndrome
Early in my marriage a friend who worked in health told me she believed my husband had Asperger's. I didn't know what to do with that suggestion as 30 years ago Asperger's and Autism was not so commonplace as it is today.
Having struggled with our relationship and how it makes me feel I am reading a book called "Asperger Syndrome and long-term relationships (2nd edition) by Ashley Stanford.
As I am reading this book I am having so many "light bulb" moments of recognition both of my how my husband is and how I react to the way he is in return.
Over the decades I have accepted my husband is not able to communicate in ways I desire, now I understand more why that is so.
My issue is, do I show him the book and suggest I feel this is part of him? If the shoe was on the other foot he would definitely do so. I now realise that is part of his possible Asperger's, to be able to tell me quite openly and forthright every little thing that I do wrong, including letting a pea get under his mash potatoes.
I don't recall the last time he laughed or even smiled. He tells me not to look at him and not to touch him.
He certainly has the persistent deficits in Social Communication and interaction, repetitive patterns of behaviour, fixated interests, body ticks and so much more the book is opening up to me.
Where to from here? That is the question. One thing, I need to read more and learn about this syndrome for the sake of our relationship.
Cheers all from Mrs. D.
Hey Mrs Dools,
I have known quite a few people with Aspergers/Autism and even dated one for a while which, given my BPD symptoms, was pretty challenging. I think it's probably important to recognise the syndrome as being a spectrum disorder and, realistically, we all lie on it somewhere with various different symptoms.
Since there's no "cure" for aspergers except for the person to try and learn social rules and customs, it does become a matter of whether they actually care or not. Equally, we need to recognise that many things are practical, not symbolic, to them.
So I'd look at it like two people communicating in two different languages. You have to learn bits and pieces of each other's languages to have a meaningful conversation and relationship.
Questions I would have are why doesn't he like to be looked at? Why doesn't he like to be touched? When he is happy, would it bother him to share it? Why or why not? DItto for when he is unhappy.
One of my friends hates small talk because he finds it completely pointless and a waste of time. However, he also recognises that others won't give him what he wants - knowledge - without a bit of small talk. So he had to develop that ability.
Sorry, I realise I haven't given many suggestions here, but I really do think it's just about sitting down and basically starting at the beginning: why do you do x? I want to make this work and clearly we are coming from two different perspectives, so I want to understand yours.
Thanks for your reply, I appreciate it. The more I am reading about Asperger's, the more I realise the person with this condition may have absolutely no idea their way of looking at life is different to anyone else's. If I ask him questions he may have no answer as to why he thanks that way , life for him his way is normal to him.
There are times when I am in tears due to my husband continuing on about something that is really upsetting me. He does not understand why I am at all emotional.
Over the decades I have adjusted to accommodate his differences and in small ways he has done the same I guess.
Maybe it might be enough for me to be informed and read more about Asperger's rather than try to explain something to my husband that he may well not be able to recognise in himself.
Thanks James, from Mrs. D.
It is always difficult to talk to someone about things which they may not realise themselves. It can feel very much like an attack. That said, it really does affect you and rightly so. You have emotional needs which are not being met. I think that's just as worthy of consideration as are his feelings when confronted with a difficult possibility.
Perhaps a way of approaching that conversation is not to highlight his differences with other people, but simply how you two are different, but different in a way that can be very complementary.
So it's not a matter of he's less emotional than others, but simply that he's less emotional than you, and you'd like a bit more. Equally, perhaps there are things that you do which bug or confuse him, and you'd like the opportunity to explain these things if there are any which he can think of.
As you say, small steps most certainly have been made, but without a difficult talk, further steps are going to be far and few in between. Still, the goal is to have a more understanding and supportive relationship, and it feels like you really want this.
Sorry, I don't mean to sound pushy if that's how it comes across. My friend and his fiance have had so many breaking points but they always come back to the agreement that their relationship works and satisfies both their emotional needs even if it does require constant work and communication. Acceptance of their differences was absolutely critical to this.
Thanks again for your words. You are not at all pushy, I appreciate a perspective on the issue. Over the years I have noticed my husband decided that any kind of physical contact was unacceptable. We had separate beds so I didn't touch him during out sleep, now we have separate rooms.
We went to a couple's counsellor. The guy spoke of how I need physical contact, even if it was to just hold hands for a moment, my husband said he couldn't do that. When asked why not, he just said because he couldn't.
I realise there is so much he is not able to provide, so I need to find ways to accept that as I have been doing for years. Since reading this book, it has made it all seem clearer. I now realise he is not purposely being a control freak, a bully, a nasty person, ignorant of my feelings, ignoring me, neglecting my basic needs when I am ill, he just doesn't get it!
It is so hard to understand a person who sees you lying in a hospital bed after a major breakdown telling you that it is selfish to be there, or that he won't be back to see me until the day I leave hospital, or to not call at all, or to decide to use that time for an interstate holiday.
I wish I had found that book decades ago! This marriage has been tough. It didn't need to be so hard. I had approached Drs with my thoughts but none had wanted to follow that path. I feel sorry for the both of us. Our marriage could have been so different.
Now is the time to make it what we can out of what we have.
Cheers from Mrs. D.