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milamber5
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01 Mar 2024, 1:08 am

Male Aspie, 45. Informally diagnosed through counseling at age 37. Married to a female that's not an aspie, but identifies as ND from having ADHD.

I grew up being taught marriage was forever: after all, whats the point in getting married to begin with if it's not for the commitment?

I haven't been the greatest husband. I'm a good provider (seven figures as of recently) and I'm loyal, but I'm not particularly interested in *anyones* life outside my special interests. I'm not trying to say I'm a bad guy, it's just that caring about someone else's stuff feels turned off in my brain: I can manage to mask it at a mechanical level, but it doesn't come from the heart. Also, for better or for worse, my business has 20 employees, and I have to play "everything is fine, don't worry!" all day long, even if sometimes I'm really feeling 'OMG panic!' on the inside some days. I tend to dump that when I come home and the masking stops.

I do love having shared interests with others- as long as those are my four or five special interests. I've come to feel somewhat unapologetic about this even though it probably sounds cold, it's just the way I'm wired. Trying to get into someone else's thing is just a bore for me, and I can only fake it for so long.

I've never had many friends, and those that I do have moved out of state or, sadly, passed away young.
I'm a workaholic - I'm at work at least 60 hours a week, sometime up to 80. While my job can be frustrating at times, I love the predictability of effort in = reward out, usually at a multiplier! It's a part of life I can kind-of control, and I'm quite good at what I do.

I met my wife 25 years ago. I'd had one other significant relationship before her and it was a disaster. What drew me to my wife initially was her flexibility, and she also passed all my "do you like doing my list of five hobbies (hyper interests)". I didn't even know what being ND was yet, but I knew I liked fewer things than most people, and was more obsessive about them.

We've been married 22 years, and our relationship has been on some level of "broken" ever since then. It's had ups and downs but has generally been getting worse. We have two daughters, ages 18 and 15. It pains me to admit it, but I really only like spending time with the kids when we're doing a shared interest. I want them to succeed, and I would do anything to protect them, but the day-to-day, I'm a sh***y parent (having two kids was 100% her idea, but hey, I'm here now and I take responsibility for my part in it). I don't really care how college or high school is going, as long as you're safe, getting OK grade, and not doing drugs. Fortunately, I do have something different in common with both of them, but it doesn't leave me being an engaged most of the time, its pretty hit and miss. We probably connect 1 out of every 10 encounters.

This is a major curveball: I hate being alone for more than a few hours, maybe a day, tops. I'm guessing that's not normal? Moreover, the idea of taking a vacation or going on a leisure event without a companion feels utterly weird. I don't know if it was part of my upbringing - my parents have a mediocre relationship, but never did/never do anything without the other person. They are "joined at the hip". For that matter, I pretty much bounced from living with my parents at 18 -> relationship (broken up) -> current relationship. I've never been alone for more than a few months, and those few months felt awful - I couldn't wait to get someone to move back in with me.

Because of my dread of being alone and my "divorce is wrong" mentality, I've been fighting tooth and nail to keep our relationship together for the last 22 years (to be clear, 99% of the time it's her wanting to leave). Getting 'diagnosed' at 37 helped for me, but it didn't help for her, as she felt we spent over a dozen years in counseling and indicates I'm the one with the problem, go get it fixed. Solo counseling isn't helping our relationship; generally speaking, I have a pretty optimistic outlook on life, and I never know what to tell a counselor.

I don't know if it's just poisoning of the hobby from my overdoing it, or she just changed, but basically everything we had in common 25 years ago is gone now. We don't travel together, we only sporadically play video games (my favorite pasttime), I actually got into fitness because she was a runner, and then she gave that up. Now I work out 3x a week solo, which is such a bizarre twist of fate, as I couldn't give it up after I eventually got hooked.

We came to the absolute brink about 18 months ago. She basically didn't speak to me for two weeks and the only times she did was about how we were going about getting divorced. Somewhere in there I caved and went "I can't make her stay" and I started making other plans, assuming she'd follow through on her threats and move out. Noted above, I can't stand being alone, so I started the initial steps of structuring my life around finding the upcoming wife #2 and somewhere in there, she cracked. She broke down in tears and wondered where everything went wrong. I was so torn at that moment, I'd finally gotten over the problem after hundreds of begging "dont leave" sessions and she'd come back. What the hell, world?

Things have been really hit-and-miss since then. We went through a legal separation **but stayed together**, which I am SO thankful for, because it got topics like child custody and money taken care of when no one was pissed off. Highly recommend doing a mediated separation to any couple that's been "on the fence" for a long time. However, our relationship feels more like roommates with occasional benefits. Yes, it's functionally easier for us to be married. Our kids have a lot of travel-oriented hobbies and it helps that situation too. We have a fairly expensive lifestyle and it costs a lot less if we're both paying into it, now that she has her own money. But it's feeling more like we're staying together because it's easy, not because it means anything. Perhaps this isn't an aspie topic, maybe a lot of people go through this - I don't know, I dont really have anyone to ask anymore. So here I am.

We go to counseling, but the progress is SLOOOOOW. I have no doubt I'm a harder person to live with than she is - probably a magnitude more - but she's carrying around 25 years of burden, whereas I feel like we should just be starting over. Comments like "you never change" despite what I feel is a lot of intellectual effort to compensate for my emotional misses, and then not talking to me sometimes for days when she's mad.

We had another blow up two nights ago. That fight was really 50/50, without going into detail, we were both in the wrong. It ended with the usual very hurtful "you never change" despite that I could point out a dozen things I didn't screw up that week that I would have before. It was also followed by [paraphrase/complex topic] "we should divorce, give me time to figure it out", despite that I could point out a dozen things I didn't screw up that week that I would have before. However, I brought the issues up in our latest counseling session, and both the counselor and my wife tagged in on me being the root of her anger, and somehow (my perspective???) that justifies her actions, anger, and comments, which pisses me off just to type this. I am one person in a two person marraige that is actually putting real effort into fixing it.

My real question: I don't know why being alone feels so terrible. I've been to counselors for years and as of late, being told this is really weird for an aspie. I also have virtually no friends, and any attempts to make them in adult life have been mediocre at best. Moreover, I have moral qualms with a divorce: my parents stuck it out (And I'm glad they did); my religious upbringing told me divorce was wrong. Divorced people in my old (long gone) community were somewhat shunned for their behavior, it had a nasty stigma.

I'm weighing being long-term blamed as the bad guy at an at-best mediocre relationship, versus just giving in next time she wants to break up. But I'm terrified of what comes after. I seriously cannot even conceptualize being single. Am I just going to have the same problem with the next person I end up in a relationship with? I have heard varied reports from "go find a female aspie with your interests and life will be amazing" to "you're doomed to do this in a pattern forever because you've got serious problems, best stay on the path of improvement and salvage your relationship".

Thoughts? Has anyone been through this?
** Semi apologies if I come off as, well, unapologetic about some of my less-desirable behavior. I know my behavior can be taxing or even just seen as wrong to others, but it's also just the way I feel. I've learned over the years that misrepresenting my intentions to myself to feel better, or in order to gain favor with others doesn't work, and I can't mask forever, so I just call out my faults as I see them. **



Sweetleaf
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01 Mar 2024, 1:41 am

My parents should have gotten one long before they actually did.

But they wanted to stay together for ' the kids' but them remaining together and fighting all the time was just stressful for me and my siblings...if they weren't good together they should have gotten a divorce long before they did, Instead they waited so long to were they built up so much resentment against each other...the divorce was messy.

THey seem to have reconciled a bit, I would not expect them to get back together but seems they can be pretty civil with each other now. But yeah they should not have stayed together for us kids,...at least I could always see through it. Cause it was just periods of them being lovey dovey to each other than the next week apparently they weren't speaking to each other which always made things akward at home. Cause I'd never know which I would come home to..it was either may parents seemingly getting along or they were suddenly not speaking to each other. I always hoped for the getting along as the not speaking to each other created a weird tension I didn't like.


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01 Mar 2024, 4:22 am

I think it comes down to what it is that you want and how you feel.

If what you want is to salvage the marriage and that's how you feel, then work on that (acknowledging that it might not work out, but you will at least have tried). If breaking up would feel like a relief and that feels like what is right for you, then maybe that's the path for you.

I'm not sure if the fear of being alone is a good enough reason to stay, if that's the only or the primary reason, and whether it's enough of a reason to do the hard work that it will take to salvage the relationship. I understand that fear, because I have it myself, but fear is not usually a good metric to make life decisions by. I think that if you want to salvage the relationship, you would want to do it to stay with your wife because she matters to you and you want to be together.



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01 Mar 2024, 5:20 am

You might be a little bit codependent..if so, codependent people feel much more fear in anticipation of what could be once they separate for good with their partner than when it actually happens.

My impression is that your wife really wants you to set her free. But like the member above me said before two of you finally decide what to do, find out are there any positive feelings left that are worth of trying once again to save your marriage. If your relationship have been reduced to a mere habit and you are more afraid than your wife to leave it because you still feel it as your comfort zone, than maybe it's a time to prepare for some things that will probably be hard to do in a short term, but in a long term would probably be better both for you and your wife.

As an autistic you are probably more self-absorbed than your wife. Can you work more on that issue and be open to things she and your kids like to do, be more present in their life, not just physically?


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01 Mar 2024, 2:48 pm

I can relate to the aversion to living alone. I don't like being alone for more than a few hours, even though I get more done without people around.

I suppose the feeling of divorce being wrong could be an upbringing thing. I'm always very loathe to pull the plug on a relationship, though I've done so a few times, when I feel it's irretrievably broken down. I've always been like that with relationships as well as marriage, because to me it doesn't matter whether you're married or not, it's the way you feel about each other that's the important thing.



milamber5
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01 Mar 2024, 9:18 pm

Thanks for the responses. Answering some of the follow-up questions, best I can. I don't think I experience romantic love in the same way it's described to me, so I'll leave that topic out and focus on the mechanics of the relationship.

- I want someone that cares about me (which I have, most of the time - and when I dont, its probably my fault)
- I want someone to share hobbies with, which I really don't have anymore. And it's a disheartening experience.
- I want someone that's in it for the long run like I am (which is 50/50 at best - she falters all the time)

Also, simplifying my ask, has anyone had experience, as an aspie, splitting up with a partner that's had it with the aspie traits ...and some of mine are intense, and then found someone that really "got them" long term? At the risk of over-explaining, I don't know if I'm just naturally incompatible with most people and I'm doomed to repeat this experience or if most of the problems I'm experiencing are unique to the person I'm with. Basically, what are my odds of being happier with another person if I acquiesce to her moving on next time it happens.

I don't want to go through losing the 'its OK sometimes' vibe of the current situation just to find out the next one(s) are as bad or worse. And I know I dont want to be alone.



milamber5
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01 Mar 2024, 9:54 pm

DazyDaisy wrote:
You might be a little bit codependent..if so, codependent people feel much more fear in anticipation of what could be once they separate for good with their partner than when it actually happens.
...
As an autistic you are probably more self-absorbed than your wife. Can you work more on that issue and be open to things she and your kids like to do, be more present in their life, not just physically?


I am for sure co-dependent.
I'm afraid I don't know what "work on that issue" means, at least at a root level. Certainly, I can mimic how most people act by using intellect and not feelings. I've not found that working on something ever makes me feel any different, and I find any behavioral changes fall apart under stress.



milamber5
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01 Mar 2024, 9:57 pm

ToughDiamond wrote:
I can relate to the aversion to living alone. I don't like being alone for more than a few hours, even though I get more done without people around.


Yes - this is 100% the same way I feel. My productivity level skyrockets, but after a few hours, it just feels awkward.
It's even nice to have breaks - leaving me alone for a few hours is nice, for a full day is not.



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02 Mar 2024, 3:04 am

milamber5 wrote:
DazyDaisy wrote:
You might be a little bit codependent..if so, codependent people feel much more fear in anticipation of what could be once they separate for good with their partner than when it actually happens.
...
As an autistic you are probably more self-absorbed than your wife. Can you work more on that issue and be open to things she and your kids like to do, be more present in their life, not just physically?


I am for sure co-dependent.
I'm afraid I don't know what "work on that issue" means, at least at a root level. Certainly, I can mimic how most people act by using intellect and not feelings. I've not found that working on something ever makes me feel any different, and I find any behavioral changes fall apart under stress.


I hope I didn't offend you. I'm not sure either how to work on that issues since I can get, too, so absorbed by my special interests that sometimes I don't even know what day in a week I am or I spend three days in a row obsessing over my interests without leaving the house. That can make people I am with feel lonely. So, I am willfully trying to be less obsessed with my interests and to organize my days in a more balanced way, so that I make time for a little bit of everything: time to work, socialize with people who are closest to me, do my chores, spend some time in outdoor activities. And when I willfully socialize with people I care for, luckily, I don't have to mimic anything..but even if I were like what you describe in regard to mimicking, than I would probably mimic. If you mimic positive feelings I think it is still better than ignoring or openly abusing members of your family. So I will stop here because I am probably talking nonsense from your point of view and that is because I don't quite understand how it is to be in your shoes and not having those kind of feelings. I don't judge you, you obviously need and deserve help since you came here to ask for it. Hope someone here has better advices.


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02 Mar 2024, 3:26 am

People obsess over the latest statistic on divorce without knowing what that statistic REALLY means.  So if 43% of all marriages end in divorce, what that REALLY means is 57% of all marriages end in death of one or both spouses.

It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it?


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02 Mar 2024, 2:32 pm

Fnord wrote:
People obsess over the latest statistic on divorce without knowing what that statistic REALLY means.  So if 43% of all marriages end in divorce, what that REALLY means is 57% of all marriages end in death of one or both spouses.

It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it?

Not great odds for a successful marriage though, are they?



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02 Mar 2024, 8:44 pm

ToughDiamond wrote:
Fnord wrote:
People obsess over the latest statistic on divorce without knowing what that statistic REALLY means.  So if 43% of all marriages end in divorce, what that REALLY means is 57% of all marriages end in death of one or both spouses.  It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it?
Not great odds for a successful marriage though, are they?
Every marriage ends in death or divorce.  Sad, isn't it?


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02 Mar 2024, 8:59 pm

I think that once the magic is gone and a married couple is constantly fighting and arguing, they should get a divorce.


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02 Mar 2024, 9:30 pm

Personally I think every effort should be made to make a relationship work in the event that a relationship becomes threatened by divorce.

There are always options such as marriage counseling or other arrangements which can lead to a settlement of issues without resorting to divorce.

If people get married in the first place, then they shouldn't frivolously get a divorce.

That said, there are situations where a divorce is suitable - adultery by either partner or a domestic abuse situation to name a couple of reasons, might warrant a divorce.



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02 Mar 2024, 10:33 pm

I think that relationships should be about bringing people happiness. There’s no shame in ending a relationship when it is no longer doing so. Life is too short to spend it with someone you don’t truly love or care for. Sometimes people marry the wrong person. Other times, they simply grow apart. It doesn’t really matter. People can marry, separate, or divorce whenever they want to. As long as they are abiding by laws and are treating each other with dignity and respect, I don’t have a problem with it.

I think it’s a good thing that there’s less stigma around divorce now than in the past. People shouldn’t have to spend their lives feeling stuck in an unhappy, loveless marriage.


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03 Mar 2024, 2:59 am

Fnord wrote:
ToughDiamond wrote:
Fnord wrote:
People obsess over the latest statistic on divorce without knowing what that statistic REALLY means.  So if 43% of all marriages end in divorce, what that REALLY means is 57% of all marriages end in death of one or both spouses.  It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it?
Not great odds for a successful marriage though, are they?
Every marriage ends in death or divorce.  Sad, isn't it?

Yes. I gather some bereaved folk think their dead spouses are waiting for them in the Good Place, so maybe they don't feel quite so bad about the loss.