Question for NT wives with AS husbands

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BassMan_720
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10 Jun 2011, 9:00 pm

I'm 52 years old and continued through 51 years oblivious to there being anything too much different with me before realising I had AS. I am undiagnosed but I am so like my 10 year old AS daughter that I must have AS. My AS is not severe. I think I fit, what has been described as high-functioning AS. I have a good job, I am well respected, I enjoy socialising on occasion but I do come across as shy, I miss social cues and I do not see non-verbal communication. It takes me time to find and make friends but my friendships tend to be very strong and long lasting. I can become very focussed on things to the point of obsession.

On first realising that I had AS, my NT wife took things very badly and blanked me out. She has explained that I have been inadvertently making her miserable over the years and before she had hope that I would improve with age but that she now knew that I would never be any different.

Things had been looking up. My wife has done some study about AS and is trying to find ways to come to terms with how I am. She realises that I have never intentionally hurt her in any way. I have also been doing a lot of research into my own AS and have been making adjustments to my behaviour. These adjustments have been very difficult for me and sometimes very alien to my reasoning. While I have good reasoning skills, I now understand that, previously, my reasoning was often based on partial or incorrect information that would have been easily picked up and taken for granted by NTs.

Recently my wife has told me that she does love me and that I am probably the nicest man that she knows but she is not able to find a way of coming to terms with my AS, that she is still very unhappy and that she is only staying with me for the sake of the kids. My wife can not/win not explain what it is that I can't/don't provide that is so important to her. I want to turn things around but I don’t know how.

I know that there are NT wives that use this forum. I should be very grateful for your advice on how you are able to cope together with your AS husband. What aggravates you most about your husband's AS? What could your husband do, within the limitations of AS, to make your life easier/better? How would things be different if your husband did not have AS?



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10 Jun 2011, 10:50 pm

I am so sorry about your situation. I am sorry your wife took you diagnosis that way. That happens. A lot. First of all, its not true that you cannot change. I think the main purpose of diagnosis is helping Aspies cope. Since my daughter was diagnosed 3 years ago she has changed A LOT. My Aspie husband has also changed a lot, and continues changing every day. I think changing is more difficult for me than for him. If he really wants to achieve something he uses his strong will until he gets what he wants. So tell your wife your diagnosis will help you understand yourself better and know how to improve. You need to sit and talk. She needs to tell you what she needs you to change to improve your relationship. You can make a list, work together in each one of those things, one at a time, until you can hecone the husband she wants. Please note those goals should be very specific and possible. That could be your special project. Just working in something together will be good for your relationship. I hope she wants to work with you. My best wishes.



BassMan_720
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10 Jun 2011, 11:16 pm

Many thanks for your kind words of support.

I have been trying to persuade my wife to follow a way forward similar to that which you suggest. I will keep working on this.

I have been asking for some clear direction and some priorities. I really do not have a clue what I need to do to make things better. If she would only work with me to set some measurable objectives that I can work towards. At the moment, I am setting my own objectives but I seem to be wasting effort on things that are not important.

My wife unable (or perhaps unwilling) to describe what it is that she wants or needs from me: she would like me to be more empathic and know without her telling me. She can't see why I don't understand. I need an NT crystal ball, which I don't have. hence my initial question.

If you can point me to things that were important to you and that your husband has been able to change that would be a start for me. I know we are all different and that it would still be a shot in the dark but at least I would be aiming for a real target.



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10 Jun 2011, 11:27 pm

As you might know, I have AS and am not married so I will understand if my contribution to this post is unwanted, however...

I have to commend you for being so open to improving yourself and being diplomatic with your wife. While I think you should continue with this, I don't know if there is much you can do to save your marriage, and I'm not really sure that should be your goal.

I'm skeptical that you are the whole problem. Your wife married you for a reason once upon a time and it's entirely possible that she has just grown to be a different person than she was then, with different needs.

But she said she is going to stay with you for the sake of the children, and I think you can turn this into something positive. I would tell her that you love her too, and you understand there is something she needs that she feels you can't provide her with. Tell her though, that if you are going to continue to be together, you don't want it to be insufferable for her/ You want the time to be enjoyable for the both of you, and ask her what she needs of you to make that happen.

The goal is not saving your marriage. The goal is to coexist harmoneously.



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11 Jun 2011, 12:56 am

In your situation I would consider seeking an intermediary, but don't go to a regular marriage counselor, because - like your wife - they may not understand what you can and cannot do.

But there are psychologists who specialize in AS who undertake marriage counseling in exactly the sort of situation you describe. Being NTs, they can empathise with your wife. Being specialists in AS, they have extensive experience in the kind of person you are, with your Aspie strengths and weaknesses. They know that you cannot just magically recognize your own or your wife's feelings and emotions.

So you may benefit from seeing someone who really can see both sides of the relationship. But don't go to a regular marriage counselor who does not specialize in Aspies.

By the way, have you read the chapter about Aspies and marriage in Tony Attwood's excellent book, A Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome? He suggests things that your wife could do to meet her emotional needs (like going out regularly with female friends). If you haven't read his book, I recommend it.



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11 Jun 2011, 1:06 am

Ironically, I think the communication problem may be on your wife's end in this situation. She doesn't know how to describe what she wants you to do, and therefore you can't do it.

Yeah, get a counselor who knows AS. Stay far, far away from anybody associated with Maxine Aston and her crew, though. Pseudoscientific smear campaign, that; and she can't get over her own divorce, so she takes it out on every other Aspie guy out there. Find somebody who specializes in communication. Heck, maybe even a speech/language therapist, if you can find one who can work with communication rather than simply speech.

I wouldn't blame this on the AS. If you are going to blame the communication gap on anything, blame it on the fact that you and your wife are different--like you had come from two different cultures. You have trouble communicating with her--but she has trouble communicating with you, too. You both have to work to bridge the gap, and you both have to compromise.


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BassMan_720
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11 Jun 2011, 2:48 am

Lots of good advice here.

We are living in Hong Kong at the moment. There is no help here. We have been using a counsellor in the UK via Skype. Unusually, she is on the spectrum herself and has been able to explain things to my wife about me far better than I could myself. Things did appear to be picking up but each time I make a slight slip, like not noticing how my wife is feeling it is back to square one.

Putting my personal feelings aside, perhaps Chronos is right and it is time to move on. While it is feasible that I could release my wife to allow her to build a new life for herself, I would dearly miss my kids and they would miss me, specially my AS 10 year old. Weekend visits half way around the world are not an option.



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11 Jun 2011, 3:46 am

BassMan_720 wrote:
Lots of good advice here.

We are living in Hong Kong at the moment. There is no help here. We have been using a counsellor in the UK via Skype. Unusually, she is on the spectrum herself and has been able to explain things to my wife about me far better than I could myself. Things did appear to be picking up but each time I make a slight slip, like not noticing how my wife is feeling it is back to square one.

Putting my personal feelings aside, perhaps Chronos is right and it is time to move on. While it is feasible that I could release my wife to allow her to build a new life for herself, I would dearly miss my kids and they would miss me, specially my AS 10 year old. Weekend visits half way around the world are not an option.


I did not mean you should move out or she should move out or anything like that. She stated she didn't want to. I'm not so much suggesting moving on....I was thinking more along the lines of finding a different type of relationship with each other. We hope it's the case but two people cannot always be lovers, soul mates and best friends all at the same time. Sometimes we can only be different things at different times.



Last edited by Chronos on 11 Jun 2011, 3:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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11 Jun 2011, 3:54 am

My experience is of a failed marriage. I'm AS male. There is a child involved as well. But my advice will come from things I have learned since our divorce.

Emotions. You have them, and I would bet she (and maybe even you) are unaware of them, most of the time. If this is the case, you NEED to find a way to analyze your emotional state, and communicate this to her clearly...and powerfully. If possible, even nonverbally.

Empathy. You likely miss the indicators she gives about her emotions, although care about them. There are several strategies for improving this. She could work on changing some of the ways she communicates emotions, by being more blatant and direct about it. Or you could bang your head against a wall trying to learn to read subtle hints...this will eventually happen, it's a LONG road though. I recommend studying material about nonverbal communication, and about subtle communication. Learn it like you would a discipline.

Confidence. She has lost it in you, in all likelihood. Potentially even carries resentment. You, and more specifically your daughter, have recently been labeled. You obviously are the responsible party for your daughter bearing a label, in her mind. She is not liking this, at all. You need to show her the good side of the spectrum, more specifically, the good side of you related to the spectrum. And show her that this is not something to be ashamed of. Don't swing too far into outright arrogance, but you MUST carry yourself with high regard, and be confident you are still the man. Also show faith in a bright future for your daughter.

Effort. You may be making more effort than she is! But it is likely all happening internally. She does not see it. She does not understand it. You need to find a method to show her, and show than you care, and indeed are trying. This will not be easy.

I don't know with any certainty that any of that applies to your situation. I am guessing really. But if any of it is, I wish you the best of luck in your struggles.


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Ilka
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13 Jun 2011, 3:29 pm

BassMan_720 wrote:
Many thanks for your kind words of support.

I have been trying to persuade my wife to follow a way forward similar to that which you suggest. I will keep working on this.

I have been asking for some clear direction and some priorities. I really do not have a clue what I need to do to make things better. If she would only work with me to set some measurable objectives that I can work towards. At the moment, I am setting my own objectives but I seem to be wasting effort on things that are not important.

My wife unable (or perhaps unwilling) to describe what it is that she wants or needs from me: she would like me to be more empathic and know without her telling me. She can't see why I don't understand. I need an NT crystal ball, which I don't have. hence my initial question.

If you can point me to things that were important to you and that your husband has been able to change that would be a start for me. I know we are all different and that it would still be a shot in the dark but at least I would be aiming for a real target.


It seems she is one of those women who want their husband to read their minds. That never works. For Aspie guys or NT guys. You have to consider maybe she is using your Asperger's as an excuse to finish your marriage. That can be. I think it is very healthy of you to set your own objectives and try to achieve your own goals. If you work hard and get what you want that is always going to be important.

Things that are important to me: 1) Support with the house work. I would like my husband to support me with the house work. He says he will help me, but he never does, and if I ask him then he starts complaining. I always do my part and I never complain, and it is very hard for me to listen to him complaining about his share. Sometimes I prefer not to ask him anything just to not listen to him complaining. It gets me in really bad mood. 2) Tell me when you do not want to do something. When I ask my husband to do something, he always says yes. Then, when we are doing it, he starts complaining. He says it's because he does not want me to get mad at him, but I get mad anyway because he ruins everything with his constant mourning. I would prefer him to tell me right up front that he does not want to do it. 3) Bad temper. My husband gets mad for little things. And starts shouting and coursing. And he shouts at me. Not at the what made him angry. I know he is just getting it out of his system, but it is very hard for me not to take it personal. 4) Decision making. It is very hard for him to make decisions. He always leaves that to me. Sometimes I feel I carry all the load of our family.

But that's just our case. Probably your case is different. I hope it helps you. You sound like a very nice person. Cheers.



BassMan_720
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13 Jun 2011, 10:31 pm

Ilka: many thanks for your advice.

I sincerely hope that my wife is not using AS as an excuse to end our marriage. She has that option, of course, whether I’m AS or not.

In relation to your advice:

1) Support for the housework - Yes! I could do more. I will endeavour to be proactive.

Housework is a tough spot and I have been lacking over the years. I will try harder. I have been very good at justifying not giving so much help, for example, I work very long hours. I now realise that, while my wife is the home keeper, she gets tired too and needs some time off.

2) Saying that I do not want to do something – There is an analogy here. I am constantly in fear of getting things wrong and my wife going mad at me.

Unlike your husband I will take on a task or do something without complaint. However, I have not been good at being proactive, in seeking tasks or suggesting things to do. There are some things that are sacrosanct to my wife. On the very rare occasion that I take the initiative to do something, I am doomed to get things wrong. My wife likes certain things done in certain ways. I will often improvise, sometimes because I do not know her latest set of rules, which do change from time to time, and sometimes because I like to find a better way and I don't understand why the current rules are in place. I'm not very good at blindly following rules. I need to understand the reason behind them. I often get the stick for getting things wrong but never the carrot for getting things right. There are lots of things that I know not to do and very very few where I know should do more.

3) Getting Mad – No, this is not me at all. The closest thing I have to a meltdown is to withdraw completely into myself. On the contrary, I get the blame for all of my wife’s ills. I had a really bad time yesterday when I came home from work, early for a change. My wife had a disagreement with my eldest (NT) daughter so I tried to give some moral support but was rejected. If I were in her shoes, I would have liked some kind words and a hug. It might not fix the problem but it would make me feel supported. I don’t understand how she reacts to things and how or when she needs support so I got it wrong again (I still don’t understand how or what). Apparently, I should have minded my own business and kept a distance. So, all of the problems came down to my AS and my wife’s anger turned on me. I’m still in the dog house.

4) Decisions – I also have this difficulty in certain situations. Your husband may have the same difficulty. I have no problem making decisions that have logic and reason behind them, e.g. which car to buy (based on specification), which area should we move to, etc., hence, most large decisions are left totally to me, but ask me what I’d like to eat or which style of shirt I prefer and I’m stumped. Often, I have no preference at all. I have noted my wife’s annoyance at this but I don’t know how I can get around this. If I say I have no preference then I really have no preference. Often, I will flip a coin and go with whatever the coin says but then it is not me that has made the decision and it doesn’t work for “What do you want for dinner?” or “What colour should we paint the living room?”.

Thanks again for this advice. I will do better. I hope the feedback from my independent AS perspective also helps you understand your husband better, particularly with respect to 4). Any further words of wisdom will be gratefully accepted.



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14 Jun 2011, 12:51 am

I am an NT woman who is with an AS man. I have had the same thoughts as your wife. Its very hard to explain to the man what it is we need to change. Its not so cut and dry to be honest. Some things that stand out to me at the moment are

communication: When he has done something wrong or hurt my feelings, I confront him about it and he will give me a very confusing explanation. I dont know if it is because he is nervous or guilty feeling, but he will start off talking about what happened, and end up not making sense. We go around in circles because he gets confused himself. It is always as if we are on completely different pages alot of the time. I try to bring him back to the main subject and he still doesnt get it.

Motivation: He will need to run errands, but wont do it unless I push him out the door lol. He "talks" about wanting to do things, but cannot bring himself to doing them without someone helping him or motivating him. For him to remember something on his own that needs to be done is rare.

Responsibility: I manage the money now because he either forgets to pay bills or its not a priority for him. He also will let my daughter who is 5 go hungry because he is not in touch with time. Time is not important to him and thats also why he runs out of time to do errands. I try to not leave kids with him alone for too long because of his lack of responsibility.

Lack of common sense: He sometimes endangers my daughter or himself because he is not "thinking". He does not ever think "on his toes". He once almost set fire to the house by accident. That is a bit extreme, but it did almost happen.

These are some daily things that I deal with. I'm not saying that you are anything like this, but for me this is what makes it a difficult relationship. I have read books on aspergers and showed him the books to help us. We have worked together to try to change these issues. He was not aware he was like this until we sat and had a serious discussion. Good luck to you!



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14 Jun 2011, 9:16 am

I'm the child of a normal mother and a dad with aspergers (undiagnosed...he has so little insight and such extremely poor communication/comprehension skills he wouldn't understand a request for him to see a specialist).

I have never found my parents having a discussion on anything but money, and every one of these discussions has been a cold, terse conversation mostly with my mother talking, trying to get words out of him, because he'll do things like simply not answer a question posed directly to him. Sometimes he won't even acknowledge that he's been asked something other than to look at you with this strange look as if he's sleep walking (metaphorically, he his).

He's lost is job three times in the past couple years. He's now, again, unemployed, and spends the majority of his time sitting or standing almost arms distance from the television, barely moving.

He rarely, rarely speaks, and when he does, his words are plucked right from a television script. "So! What's new?" "How's school?"His words sound forced, overly loud, with unnatural pitch variation, as if its an act. And if you respond to such speech, he doesn't seem to process your response, he makes no reply. Its as if he feels he made the initial appropriate gesture, and because that is the most actable part of the interaction, he cannot continue unless you response is equally television-show-like. When I was eleven, he told me I smelled and ordered my mother to teach me how to wash myself.

He wanders around the house, bored, or something. He'll stand in the kitchen for a straight fifteen minutes staring in to space while drinking a glass of water. He'll sit at the table for 45 min eating a meal by himself, staring into space. And if you walk into the kitchen to get something while this is going on, he'll follow you with his eyes, and you feel like you're every tiniest move is being watched and recorded but not analyzed.

He doesn't exercise. Doesn't have any friends. Makes excuses when asked about finding another job. He sometimes voices some feelings that my mother has turned my sister and I against him (i.e. completely skewed perception of things and complete unawareness of the impact of his behavior). When we were younger and my mom would be gone, he'd open up some canned vegetables and fish, dump them together in a bowl, not even heat that up, and tell us that was there for us to eat. He gives our dog scraps of food, feeds him big bowls of milk left over from his sugary cereal, no matter how many times we tell him not to.

My mother has reached a point where she actually admits that she can't stand him, and that she's angry, after 20+years of making excuses for him, saying things like, "at least he doesn't smoke or drink or abuse you." just ignoring him as much as possible, because he pays the major bills. But now it looks like he won't even be able to do that, so she's sorting out what we'll do if he runs out of money for the bills.

Main thing his...he doesn't realize his impact.

We think he should never have married our mother and had kids. Our lives would be okay if he just moved out.

Original Poster doesn't sound nearly this bad though. Maybe you could share this with your wife and say "look...it could be worse."



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14 Jun 2011, 11:56 am

Elora_Danan wrote:
I am an NT woman who is with an AS man. I have had the same thoughts as your wife. Its very hard to explain to the man what it is we need to change. Its not so cut and dry to be honest. Some things that stand out to me at the moment are

communication: When he has done something wrong or hurt my feelings, I confront him about it and he will give me a very confusing explanation. I dont know if it is because he is nervous or guilty feeling, but he will start off talking about what happened, and end up not making sense. We go around in circles because he gets confused himself. It is always as if we are on completely different pages alot of the time. I try to bring him back to the main subject and he still doesnt get it.

Motivation: He will need to run errands, but wont do it unless I push him out the door lol. He "talks" about wanting to do things, but cannot bring himself to doing them without someone helping him or motivating him. For him to remember something on his own that needs to be done is rare.

Responsibility: I manage the money now because he either forgets to pay bills or its not a priority for him. He also will let my daughter who is 5 go hungry because he is not in touch with time. Time is not important to him and thats also why he runs out of time to do errands. I try to not leave kids with him alone for too long because of his lack of responsibility.

Lack of common sense: He sometimes endangers my daughter or himself because he is not "thinking". He does not ever think "on his toes". He once almost set fire to the house by accident. That is a bit extreme, but it did almost happen.

These are some daily things that I deal with. I'm not saying that you are anything like this, but for me this is what makes it a difficult relationship. I have read books on aspergers and showed him the books to help us. We have worked together to try to change these issues. He was not aware he was like this until we sat and had a serious discussion. Good luck to you!


That's why I did not want to advise him on my issues. Everyone has their own issues, because every Aspie is different and every marriage is different. 1) Communication: in our marriage it is not an issue. My husband has great communication skills. He is always talking about his feelings and letting me know how he feels. The one with communication problems in our relationship is me. 2) Motivation: my husband also has that problem of "talking" about doing things and not doing them, but it is more related to personal things, so it does not affect our relationship. When he needs to do something that is for our family, he will do it. 3) Responsibility: my husband NEVER took care of our daughter. He got stressed and did not know what to do. So I never left him alone with her. And being spaced out is common in Aspies. It is a trait very hard to overcome, but not impossible. We used to fight A LOT about it, because I get obsessed about being on time, and with him it was almost impossible. It took us about 5 years fighting about it every day, but now I do not stress that much about time (I learned to let go), and he is much more time concerned. 4) Lack of common sense: this is funny. I AM the one lacking common sense in our home. My husband is all about security. To the extreme. I used to be more relaxed and did not care that much about security (I never set the house on fire, though). I have learned a lot, and I am more security-concerned now. Talking is always the best way to overcome everything in a marriage. It seems you have a very good relationship.



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14 Jun 2011, 2:02 pm

[quote="BassMan_720"]1) Support for the housework - Yes! I could do more. I will endeavour to be proactive. Housework is a tough spot and I have been lacking over the years. I will try harder. I have been very good at justifying not giving so much help, for example, I work very long hours. I now realise that, while my wife is the home keeper, she gets tired too and needs some time off.

2) Saying that I do not want to do something – There is an analogy here. I am constantly in fear of getting things wrong and my wife going mad at me. Unlike your husband I will take on a task or do something without complaint. However, I have not been good at being proactive, in seeking tasks or suggesting things to do. There are some things that are sacrosanct to my wife. On the very rare occasion that I take the initiative to do something, I am doomed to get things wrong. My wife likes certain things done in certain ways. I will often improvise, sometimes because I do not know her latest set of rules, which do change from time to time, and sometimes because I like to find a better way and I don't understand why the current rules are in place. I'm not very good at blindly following rules. I need to understand the reason behind them. I often get the stick for getting things wrong but never the carrot for getting things right. There are lots of things that I know not to do and very very few where I know should do more.

3) Getting Mad – No, this is not me at all. The closest thing I have to a meltdown is to withdraw completely into myself. On the contrary, I get the blame for all of my wife’s ills. I had a really bad time yesterday when I came home from work, early for a change. My wife had a disagreement with my eldest (NT) daughter so I tried to give some moral support but was rejected. If I were in her shoes, I would have liked some kind words and a hug. It might not fix the problem but it would make me feel supported. I don’t understand how she reacts to things and how or when she needs support so I got it wrong again (I still don’t understand how or what). Apparently, I should have minded my own business and kept a distance. So, all of the problems came down to my AS and my wife’s anger turned on me. I’m still in the dog house.

4) Decisions – I also have this difficulty in certain situations. Your husband may have the same difficulty. I have no problem making decisions that have logic and reason behind them, e.g. which car to buy (based on specification), which area should we move to, etc., hence, most large decisions are left totally to me, but ask me what I’d like to eat or which style of shirt I prefer and I’m stumped. Often, I have no preference at all. I have noted my wife’s annoyance at this but I don’t know how I can get around this. If I say I have no preference then I really have no preference. Often, I will flip a coin and go with whatever the coin says but then it is not me that has made the decision and it doesn’t work for “What do you want for dinner?” or “What colour should we paint the living room?”.

1) Support for the housework. This is a very sensitive spot. Yes, your wife gets tired and needs some time off. But she also wants to you recognize her work. You get recognition from your superiors and co-workers, but she does not have anyone to recognize her work. Just you and the kids. And the kids usually take mommy for granted. Sometimes I do not even want my husband to actually do the things. Just offering to help is sometimes enough. Or letting me know he appreciates what I do.

2) Saying that I do not want to do something. If you know there are things that are sacrosanct to your wife, then try to respect her needs. Order is sacrosanct to my husband. I cannot move this things or he will have a meltdown. So I do not move his things. If you do not understand why the current rules are in place, ask. If she does not provide a good answer, then let her know you cannot do that because you do not understand the reason why. I know my husband always needs detailed instructions and to understand everything clearly. If I cannot provide clear instructions (sometimes I just do not have the time to provide the detailed instructions he needs) I just tell him no to do it and I take care of it. But please do not do it other way just because you do not understand. That is really annoying, and disrespectful.

3) Getting Mad. I have the same problem with my husband. Sometimes when I get mad I do not want moral support, or comfort. I want to be left alone. I want to be mad. Until I eventually calm down. If you find in that situation again what you can do is tell her how sorry you are, if there is anything you can do to help, and if she starts getting mad at you excuse yourself and leave her alone. She will eventually calm down. And THEN you can try to talk to her about what made her mad and try to help her solve the situation. My husband also tries to change the subject and make me laugh. That does not always work, but sometimes it does :)

4) Decisions. If you cannot decide for one or the other because you like both, just signal one. Easy, right? That way you do not leave the decision to her. For: "What do you want for dinner?" you can answer "I cannot decide. You are such a good cooker. I love everything you cook". If that does not work, try to remember one of your favorite meals and request that. You can use the same for "What color should we paint the living room?" You can try: "You have such a good taste I think you will make a better decision". You can also try: "I love all the samples. Which one is your favorite" (and go with her). If you do not prefer a particular one, just signal anyone (but really watch the samples, you can at least do that).

I hope you can make things work out.