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the_wife
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07 Jul 2009, 10:08 am

My husband (he's AS, I'm NT) has some "issues" with his family. I won't go into full-blown detail here, but suffice it to say that I've often wondered if he wasn't switched at birth because his values are so different from the rest of the people in his family.

Since we're married, my values are pretty much aligned with his and I can't really relate to anyone in his family. I think we've earned "black sheep" status, which I consider to be a positive accomplishment.

But, we do have children, and some get togethers are inevitable. Thing is, I notice that some of my husband's Aspie traits become "worse" whenever a visit from a member of his family is pending. This would mainly be his paranoia, his uptightness, his quickness to anger.

Since I've known them, I've felt that they treat my husband quite condescendingly. They treat him like some special needs child who needs his hand held. Note that they are not aware of his AS diagnosis, this would just make things worse. Yes, he's an Aspie, but he's intelligent and responsible and an ADULT. He has a good job that allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom for our kids for most of their young years.

While he doesn't have a problem speaking up for his political opinions, he does have a problems speaking up for himself with his family. I've pointed out to him that they treat him like a child and that he deserves better than that. He still has troubles whenever they're aroun, though, which thankfully isn't that often.

Anyone else have this problem with family or others?



OddFinn
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07 Jul 2009, 11:11 am

the_wife wrote:
Anyone else have this problem with family or others?


Not really. Does your husband happen to be the only child or the youngest? This might have something to do with the family not really accepting his independence. I does not seem to have anything to do with AS. Then again, I might have missed something in your post. :oops:


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07 Jul 2009, 1:04 pm

the_wife wrote:
Anyone else have this problem with family or others?


I do but maybe to a smaller extent. My attitude becomes very conspicuously more defensive when I'm around my parents, because I feel that they are always criticizing me and treating me like a child even though I'm entirely self-supporting and independent. However I'm much more open and relaxed with my brother and sister, who are vastly more supportive, more open-minded, and less judgmental.


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07 Jul 2009, 1:41 pm

I certainly did... a result both of my AS, my mother's unDx AS, my father's alcoholism, one of my sister's Boderline Personality Disorder and all the dysfunction that arose from such a juicy vat of crazy karma. Then throw on top of that religion, social snobbery, and sexism and oooh my!

I basically don't have anything to do with them anymore. I certainly had the same experience as you are having... people who knew me couldn't believe that I came from that family!

Speaking up for himself may just escalate things, but there might be some help for you two in "Ask and Tell: Self-Advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum", edited by Stephen Shore. Unfortunately, the fact is that in a personally hostile environment such as that, NT advocates may be necessary... unfortunate because it can make us feel dependent, vulnerable, inferior... I'm sure you can imagine. :( But the facts are the facts.

As nice as it is for the kids to know their extended family, you might have to decide it's more important that they see their parents loved and respected, not humiliated or enraged by patronizing and arrogant relatives.

I became a much happier, and therefore much nicer person once I stopped having anything to do with my family. It grieved me, but I'd done the therapy, tried my heart out, and finally accepted that they couldn't receive me as I was and to expect otherwise was pointless. It finally all came clear when I asked my mother, when I was in my 30's, if there was anything at all she liked about me and her response was... Nothing comes to mind.

Hope your story has a happier ending...



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07 Jul 2009, 2:56 pm

Well that could just as easily be my family, though I am the wife and we don't have any kids. My husband and I both have AS - his is very mild compared to mine. He tells me I act like that when my mom is around. I have no problem standing up to my mom but it is a waste of time because she is incapable of learning anything.

Both our families are very dysfunctional. He likes to think that his is better though, because his parents are still together. Thankfully, at least we live very far away from my family. Unfortunately we live very close to his, and I'm not on speaking terms with them. This causes him a lot more grief than it does me. He has few social impairments, and can at least fake enough to get along with his parents, but I can't. His sister on the other hand, is rather mean to him, so we're both happy to avoid her.



the_wife
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07 Jul 2009, 4:13 pm

DonkeyBuster wrote:

As nice as it is for the kids to know their extended family, you might have to decide it's more important that they see their parents loved and respected, not humiliated or enraged by patronizing and arrogant relatives.


That's a good point, DonkeyBuster, and one that I've vacillated over. It's not just the condescending attitude toward my husband, but they've also made questionable choices in their own lives and done things that have mildly adversely affected our kids.

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I became a much happier, and therefore much nicer person once I stopped having anything to do with my family. It grieved me, but I'd done the therapy, tried my heart out, and finally accepted that they couldn't receive me as I was and to expect otherwise was pointless. It finally all came clear when I asked my mother, when I was in my 30's, if there was anything at all she liked about me and her response was... Nothing comes to mind.


OUCH! Sorry :(



the_wife
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07 Jul 2009, 4:20 pm

TiredGeek wrote:
He tells me I act like that when my mom is around. I have no problem standing up to my mom but it is a waste of time because she is incapable of learning anything.


Okay, so you and others have mentioned an increase in negative asperger traits when "problem" family members are around. I usually just ride out the storm and look forward to the visits being over, then my husband becomes more relaxed. He has gotten better at speaking up for himself with his (divorced) parents, but it's like talking to brick walls.

He's the middle child. His older brother is like the golden boy of the family to whom everyone else is compared. This brother also treats my husband like a kid. I think it's well intentioned, but still... the younger sister has pretty much been written off by the both of us, so not a problem :)



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07 Jul 2009, 7:06 pm

the_wife wrote:
Okay, so you and others have mentioned an increase in negative asperger traits when "problem" family members are around. I usually just ride out the storm and look forward to the visits being over, then my husband becomes more relaxed. He has gotten better at speaking up for himself with his (divorced) parents, but it's like talking to brick walls.

Hmm, I'm not sure I would say that negative asperger traits are increased when "problem" family members are around. Anybody in a position of belittlement and unyielding criticism without due justification would be prone to paranoia, uptightness, and fits of anger. Your husband's reaction is not unusual.


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Wingmower
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07 Jul 2009, 11:37 pm

I'm the youngest of 6 boys (no girls) and maybe my family is too immature to in their minds move me past puberty.



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09 Jul 2009, 11:07 am

I was in a very similar situation with my family - especially my father. He was physically and emotionally abusive when I was a child and the emotional abuse continued through my adult life. I kept trying - with disastrous results - because I still loved him and because he managed to convince me that all the problems were caused by me.

After I got married I begun to feel more emotionally secure and started to speak up for myself and asked to be treated as an adult, but the results were horrible - I don't know what would have happened if my husband weren't there to physically restrain him, as I never saw my father so angry and out of control and he said some terrible things. My husband was extremely upset and I started to realise I was bringing this kind of anger and abuse in his life, too. After a few other attempts, we just gave up. My mother - as much as it pained her - told me that she doesn't think he's able to change his behaviour towards me and she supports my decision of ending my relationship with him.

I realise my situation is more extreme than yours, but my point was that if some patterns of behaviour are established for a long enough period of time they become very, very hard to change especially if there's no awareness and cooperation from both parties involved. If you let people abuse you long enough, they start feeling entitled to do it and will instinctively defend this "right".

*Sorry for my broken English - this is still a very emotional topic for me*


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10 Jul 2009, 11:04 am

Anybody else have to put up with constant belittlement, insanely ridiculous behavior, or other problems, from both sides, your own AND your in-laws? Both my husband and I do, thanks to our dysfunctional families. We each find it easier to tolerate when it's our own side, since they're the ones who raised us and we're used to their crap. I would say one of the biggest threats to our relationship, before learning of AS, has been my inability to cope with his parents, and his expectations that I ought to be able to cope with them as well as he does. We don't often observe the reverse in effect, because we live far away from my family, but it has happened once or twice.

My mom drives most people crazy, his mom is the perpetually offended passive-aggressive type, and his dad is a condescending and overbearing type. To start with, growing up with these has not helped mine or my husband's self-images at all. But then when we think we've got it sorted out, neither of us want to just bail on our parents when they need us, but I draw the line at letting any one of them continue to mess up our lives. His parents are almost as old as my grandparents so he feels that we should put up with it because they wont be around as long, I wish I could just deal with them but no, I can set them off just by breathing so I can't even be around them any more.



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15 Jul 2009, 12:43 am

Some of the women in my husband's family are master manipulators. When my husband gets around those women, whom he loves and wants to please, his negative traits are much, much worse. It is like he's paralyzed. They try to tell him what to think and do in whatever direct or indirect way would be most effective at the time, and the ring leader is very perceptive and quite good at figuring out what that would be, and then they work to get the men in their lives to be on their side first, then to hit my husband with whatever the agenda of the day is from all sides once he's within reach.

I've been reading a lot on alexithymia since it was mentioned to me here and I understand much better why this happens with my husband. I have been saying it, but in far more emotional terms, for years. He looks to others to decide how he feels. His family knows this and intentionally cuts him off from others so they are all of his "others" and he'll then reflect their thinking. When we have a much larger circle of people in our life, their effect is greatly diminished. I've been saying for a long while that we really need to live in some sort of like-minded community. No thoughts of a uniform utopia, just where primary values and priorities are aligned. Since reading on alexithymia, I completely understand why.



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15 Jul 2009, 7:41 am

FiveEggsIn wrote:
Some of the women in my husband's family are master manipulators. When my husband gets around those women, whom he loves and wants to please, his negative traits are much, much worse. It is like he's paralyzed. They try to tell him what to think and do in whatever direct or indirect way would be most effective at the time, and the ring leader is very perceptive and quite good at figuring out what that would be, and then they work to get the men in their lives to be on their side first, then to hit my husband with whatever the agenda of the day is from all sides once he's within reach.

I've been reading a lot on alexithymia since it was mentioned to me here and I understand much better why this happens with my husband. I have been saying it, but in far more emotional terms, for years. He looks to others to decide how he feels. His family knows this and intentionally cuts him off from others so they are all of his "others" and he'll then reflect their thinking. When we have a much larger circle of people in our life, their effect is greatly diminished. I've been saying for a long while that we really need to live in some sort of like-minded community. No thoughts of a uniform utopia, just where primary values and priorities are aligned. Since reading on alexithymia, I completely understand why.


How can you tell when he's expressing his own views and not just reflecting your values and priorities back at you? I'm curious about this... if he's so dependent on others to decide how he feels, how can you ever be certain outside of disagreement?



the_wife
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15 Jul 2009, 9:22 am

DonkeyBuster wrote:
FiveEggsIn wrote:
Some of the women in my husband's family are master manipulators. When my husband gets around those women, whom he loves and wants to please, his negative traits are much, much worse. It is like he's paralyzed. They try to tell him what to think and do in whatever direct or indirect way would be most effective at the time, and the ring leader is very perceptive and quite good at figuring out what that would be, and then they work to get the men in their lives to be on their side first, then to hit my husband with whatever the agenda of the day is from all sides once he's within reach.

I've been reading a lot on alexithymia since it was mentioned to me here and I understand much better why this happens with my husband. I have been saying it, but in far more emotional terms, for years. He looks to others to decide how he feels. His family knows this and intentionally cuts him off from others so they are all of his "others" and he'll then reflect their thinking. When we have a much larger circle of people in our life, their effect is greatly diminished. I've been saying for a long while that we really need to live in some sort of like-minded community. No thoughts of a uniform utopia, just where primary values and priorities are aligned. Since reading on alexithymia, I completely understand why.


How can you tell when he's expressing his own views and not just reflecting your values and priorities back at you? I'm curious about this... if he's so dependent on others to decide how he feels, how can you ever be certain outside of disagreement?


FiveEggsIn, I have this same issue with my husband. His family manipulates him in this way, almost without him realizing it until after the fact. They are very controlling and that whole scenario of them cutting him off from "others" - you could be writing about us!

DonkeyBuster, you hit the nail on the head. How do I know if he's not just reflecting back, just saying what I want to hear but not meaning it? His mother (whom we strongly suspect has AS) does this all the time, and I've learned not to believe anything she says. Anything.

I've been able to point out to my husband instances where others, like his mom, have done this and how damaging it can be. Examples of someone else doing it help him to cut himself off before he does it, sometimes, and he has been able to make positive changes in this area. As for how do I know which is which? Actions speak louder than words. I take words with a grain of salt, show me. Saying one thing and doing another is something I am not tolerant of at all. I was raised to not say anything unless I mean it. "Mean what you say, say what you mean". This is also, in my opinion, very important when raising children.



FiveEggsIn
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15 Jul 2009, 10:16 am

DonkeyBuster wrote:
How can you tell when he's expressing his own views and not just reflecting your values and priorities back at you? I'm curious about this... if he's so dependent on others to decide how he feels, how can you ever be certain outside of disagreement?

That's a real problem for me. I actually like it when he disagrees and sometimes I've realized after the fact that I was picking a fight just to get him angry so he'd tell me where he stood. It isn't a healthy cycle. As the_wife said, actions speak louder than words. However, sometimes his words seem sincere in telling me that he wants to do something and doesn't understand why, when he's put in the situation, he doesn't do it. That doesn't last long as he changes his desires so he isn't in conflict instead of changing his actions.

Mostly I can tell from all the non-verbal communication. If his voice is monotone, his attention is on something else as he's talking, he isn't discussing but is trying to end a conversation, he isn't actively participating with me, he isn't looking toward me or touching me, his words are stilted or an exact repeat of my own, basically there is little to no original content and no appearance of being invested, then I know that he's just saying what he guesses I want to hear. There are certain phrases I've learned are only used in this way.

There's the sit and stare, hoping I'll fill the void with talk which he can then say he agrees to. I've learned when he's doing this that he isn't actually thinking about the conversation and has nothing original to offer. I used to wait days, weeks, or months giving him the benefit of the doubt and trusting that he would come through and do what he said he would, but I've been very disappointed by not heeding the actions which showed he wouldn't from the start. There's the contradict option in which anything I say is followed by, "No, I don't." or "I do, too." Nothing else, just three words to say I am wrong but no discussion on how he sees it or examples to prove me wrong. I know him and if he cared, he'd have detailed examples and would argue them and become upset with me. Then there's the natural urges call, which usually ends the sit and stare. He has to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom but "forgets" to come back to the conversation as he said he would.

I've found that when he takes on his family's agenda, he becomes emotional and insistent about it. When he parrots mine back to me, it isn't because he's taken it on so he doesn't follow-through and remains apathetic. I sometimes get angry that I'm the one treating him as an equal and asking for his input and wanting to make him happy and I get apathy while a few women are using him for their self-serving agendas and actually plotting for months sometimes on how to manipulate him into what they want and they get it. The message to me is that the only way to work with him is to be a manipulative and conniving witch. And then I realize that if I were, he wouldn't mind at all. Then I get very sad and give up.

It is hard finding the balance between being explicit in my needs and trying to find out where he actually stands. If he's doing any of the above then I know the conversation is hopeless and I don't want to give him words to meaninglessly parrot back too me when I know he won't follow through. But then I argue to myself that maybe this time will be different, that he can't read my mind, and so on. But I've already told him the same thing numerous times and the issue isn't that he doesn't know what I want, it is that he doesn't want to do it. But I can't get him to say that or to say why or to tell me what he wants instead, he just insists that he does want to do it and will get around to it at some future date. When we're discussing needs and not wants, that's pretty hard to take and I still don't understand the thought process behind it.

I don't know how to get through and I miss the man I fell in love with. When he gets like this, I don't feel like he's a man at all. He has no opinions, no purpose, no values, no substance when he's like that and then I feel like anything I do is being like those witches, manipulating him or using him. He becomes nothing more than a paycheck and I feel dirty, like I'm selling myself for a house and car. I don't want to be that person but can't find any other way to keep my marriage together. I can't justify divorce and the trauma that would inflict on the kids, which would be especially horrendous with the family witches' involvement as he'd let them handle it for him. I don't want a divorce. I don't want a butler. I don't want a parrot. I just want a husband... I don't know what to do.



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15 Jul 2009, 12:13 pm

the_wife wrote:
DonkeyBuster, you hit the nail on the head. How do I know if he's not just reflecting back, just saying what I want to hear but not meaning it? His mother (whom we strongly suspect has AS) does this all the time, and I've learned not to believe anything she says. Anything.


Are you sure she's not just a Gemini? They seem awfully prone to that two-faced kind of behavior... but then the Geminis I'm most acquainted with are my mom (unDx AS?) and my sister, who is The b***h Unchained (IMHO). A very experienced nurse met her for 10 min once and told me my sis was probably Borderline Personality Disorder. So I don't know if it's because they're Geminis, or because they've got wiring problems, or because Geminis are prone to wiring problems. LOL

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As for how do I know which is which? Actions speak louder than words. I take words with a grain of salt, show me. Saying one thing and doing another is something I am not tolerant of at all. I was raised to not say anything unless I mean it. "Mean what you say, say what you mean". This is also, in my opinion, very important when raising children.


Hmmm, works for me up to a point... but what about the depression and lousy executive functioning? And doesn't everyone often say they'll do something, actually mean it, and then it never happens? Seems to me I've had that happen a lot.

Or is it my AS that drives people away so they don't follow through on the aforesaid whatever?

Though like you, I'm prone to value action more than words and if someone drops the ball on me, I'm not inclined to ask them again.