relationship ended due to my autism, advice

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12 Jan 2020, 10:49 pm

This is my first post but I wanted to post somewhere I wasn't known, as this is still an event I've kept secret from my online friends so far and don't feel ready to reveal on FB or whathaveyou. But I really want some advice on this from others, particularly those with autism.

Im in my late 30s, female, and have been married for 8 years.
Both of us are slightly unconventional and odd so it seemed to just work, despite me being autistic and him being NT. We had the odd argument like any couple, but overall things moved along quite drama free and, I thought, good. We shared a love of alternative music and culture, animals, liked many of the same tv shows, etc We weren't a conventional couple, but neither of us wanted to be.

We both suspected I was autistic about 4 or 5 years ago, but I was only officially diagnosed at the end of November, so not long ago at all.

My husband claimed to be thrilled I'd finally gotten the diagnoses, as we'd struggled to get access to one for years and had begun to suspect we never would.
So if anything, it was a good point in our relationship as I felt I could now really be me, and no longer feel guilt for the unusual things I did. I thought it could only improve all my relationships with people as it would lead to greater understanding of why I did the things I did, for both them and me.
And my husband agreed. He still maintains he is happy I got the diagnosis.

Late last week (so you can see how raw and recent this all is, mere days ago) my husband revealed he no longer wanted to be with me, or to continue our relationship.

This came totally out of the blue for me. I was hit for six by this revelation, as I had no clue we had any issues. We barely even argued, unlike most couples I know, and he'd been chatting away to me the very morning he revealed this, as if we were as good as ever.
I knew he had been a tiny bit quiet and distant over the last couple of weeks, but as he told me he had problems at work, I put it down to that and never considered it was anything to do with us as a couple.

As recently as 2 weeks prior, he'd been discussing our future enthusiastically, such as where we'd live, what dog breeds we wanted etc. So trust me, I did not see this coming, no-one in my family did.

For the first two days, he expressed no desire to even try, or give me a reason for wanting to break up; he simply said it was nothing I'd done wrong, and just that he sees me more as a friend than a wife these days, and he couldn't see it changing.

Might I add he chose to do this while my mother and father - the only support network as I have - were away for at least 2 more weeks in another country. He dropped this on me at a time I had absolutely no-one there to support or comfort me. He chose to do this by texting my MOTHER thousands of miles away to break it to me, rather than just telling me. I have a history of depression, self harm and, to a lesser extent, suicidal thoughts. He admits now that this was the wrong way to do it, and didn't work out like he'd thought, but still, no-one I know can get over being that callous, intentionally or otherwise (he is not a malicious or nasty person, please know this, so I trust him that he didn't do that deliberately to be cruel, he just didn't think).

With my parents being gone currently, I took my dogs and went to stay at their empty home for the first few days, as it was obviously very stressful and awkward being in our house with one another at a time when he didn't want to discuss things, and I was totally broken.

After a few days, we sat and had 'the talk' and I'll try and simplify the issues he outlined, for the sake of brevity:

1. He didn't directly come out and say 'I can't be with you because you're autistic' but thats basically what the situation is; the things he is struggling to deal with are all things relating to me being autistic. He cited that Im not emotionally available enough, and that he couldn't deal with the lack of both physical and emotional affection. Like many autistic people, Im not much of a hugger or a snuggler, thats not how I show my affection.
I can, and do, offer and accept hugs and kisses and other forms of affection from time to time, but not as often or as readily as he needs.
I am quite reserved with my emotions and displays, but that doesn't mean I don't care, I just express my feelings differently. Sex was also an issue, frankly, though to a lesser degree he said, but we didn't have sex often enough nor were we sexually compatible, with him wanting way more than me, and me often being utterly clueless on when he wanted it, and how to judge that.


2. Animals have always been, and always will be, a massive part of my life, and he knew this from the start. I've rescued for over 20 years, animals have literally given me a reason to live on many occasions. I made it very clear to him when we started dating that I was the sort of person who would have lots of dogs and cats and other pets and that I couldn't be with someone who didn't want that sort of life, and he was always totally up for that, encouraging me over the years to take on a new rescue or get a second dog, he was never anything but understanding about my need to have animals in my life.
I am childfree and do not want kids (another thing we agreed on from the start), so my dogs are my children....as far as my love for them and my devotion to them, at least. He would refer to himself as their 'daddy' and was strongly bonded to them too.

He always used to say my way with animals and my compassion and skill with them was one of the things he loved about me. Now......one of my dogs is hugely emotionally tuned into me, and has literally saved my life in my darkest times, as I saved hers. She is actually in the process of training to be my assistance dog officially. Our bond is extremely strong, without rambling on too much, and she is as important to me as any human in my life.
My husband expressed how he felt I put the dogs 'before him', and how I had no issues snuggling my dog and being outwardly emotional and affectionate to her, but couldn't be that way with him.

Essentially, he was jealous of my bond with my dog, and my ability to be totally laid bare emotionally with her, but not with him. I also have to add that he used to express subtle signs of the same kind of 'jealousy' on the extremely rare occasions my best friend of 30 years, who lives in another country, came to visit me.
Despite her being my closest and oldest friend and us having literally grown up with one another, and me now only getting to see her a few times a year (which kills me), he would sometimes subtly indicate he felt 'left out' if she and I spent the evening together, or he'd sit in the room with us so we couldn't properly converse about girl things, and he once brought up that he is upset that I talk to her about things I didn't talk to him about, or have a different relationship with her emotionally, despite, as I say, us having been close friends since we were 8 years old, and me having very little chance to ever see her these days.

He was never horrible about it, please understand that we're not talking about a controlling monster here, far more an insecure child-like mindset of wanting to be included in absolutely everything I did.
He did get much better with respecting the bond me and my friend have, and our need for one on one time, I'll admit that; he did listen and come to understand more or less. But again, it was the same mindset of 'you can do those things with her, but not with me' as existed with my dog. Its a mindset I cannot understand or relate to, as I am the least jealous or possessive person on the planet and am more than happy for my partner to socialise without me all the time.

3. I do not like going out to pubs and socialising, and I rarely drink. Thats not how I naturally socialise, that is not fun for me.
I would do it, for his sake, now and then, even though he knew it wasn't my favourite thing. But I considered it part of the compromise of a relationship, and didn't mind putting up with the experience if it made him happy.
But now he says my lack of desire to do 'social things' with him as part of a couple bothers him.

He wanted us to do more 'as a couple', more often. I have quite significant social and generalised anxiety, and sensory issues with sound and crowds on top of that; pubs, and pub gigs, and meet ups with random drunk strangers, and small talk was always hard and not much fun for me. I was always happy to do things together that suited us both, like cinema, or restaurants, or but he rarely wanted to do those things when I asked.

What he wanted to do were things I, as an autistic person, could never enjoy; busy noisy crowded things with lots of people. I did often take him on long country dog walks with me, or we'd go to get chips on the seafront together, or beach walks with the dogs, but that was not enough for him, I now know.
He resented the fact that these situations always involved the dogs too, he says, and were not just 'us' doing something just for ourselves. Again, he was always encouraging and participating happily in these dog-related outings, even suggesting them himself many times!

These were the three biggest problems he spoke of: lack of emotional availability, lack of physical affection, and my lack of desire to socialise out of the house in the conventional way, with a wee sprinkling of insecurity that some of these things didn't seem to be issues when it came to my dog, or someone I'd known my whole life like my best friend. Maybe his sort of neurology could only ever take that personally.

I have to restate that he never mentioned ANY of these issues to me until this recent chat.

He completely strung me along that this lifestyle was fine for him. He had plenty of opportunities to mention these concerns earlier, or as they happened, when we could have worked on them maybe, but he did not.
He even directly told me he was happy with things when I would ask.
Whether he thought I should 'just know' thats how he felt (he did have a bad habit of expecting me to be a mind reader then getting upset when I was blissfully ignorant) or whether he had his own reasons for never telling me, I don't know. But I certainly had no idea any of these things were issues to him, especially not issues big enough to destroy our marriage; if I had, I would have done something......I don't know what, but something.

So I have now got to come to terms with the fact that the life I thought I was going to have when I took my vows, is not the life Im going to have now.
I now have to go through a divorce, and the rigmarole with the house and solicitors, none of which I have any experience of whatsoever and feel totally out of my depth with, particularly without any of my family currently here to help me. I have to move me and my two dogs back into my parents house and face the fact that coming up to 40, I have to start my life again.

And over the emotional roller coaster the last few days, I have been really thinking and it has made me wonder if it ever works long term for NT/autistic couples.
Which finally brings me to the point of this very long post (Im sorry, the backstory was sorta necessary)

I always liked the fact that I was one of the minority of autistic people that was actually married, living with someone, in our own home, with a job and a seemingly 'normal' lifestyle; that gave me self confidence that I could be loved by someone, even someone NT.
But now its all crashed down around me, Im starting to think I won't ever actually find someone who is prepared to live with someone with my traits. I don't even know if another autistic person could; we'd likely have our own clashes, just different ones!

I totally understand why an NT might not feel they get enough emotional connection from the typical autistic person, but I cannot and will not change who I am, and don't feel I should have to.
I have to mask all day every day outside of the house, I shouldn't then have to do so with my own husband in my own home. But the person he wants is a person I can't be, a person my brain isn't wired to be. I thought he knew that I feel love every bit as much as him, I just express it differently. I thought he knew how to read me, and I thought he understood me.

I suppose Im just feeling very insecure and alone right now, and have no-one here with me to keep me from the obsessive, intrusive thoughts that are going through my head.
I look online and all I see are horror stories of broken NT/autistic relationships, usually for the same reasons mine broke down, or negative articles usually written by NTs talking about much of a burden an autistic partner is and how it'll never be a fair relationship, and its made me think I will never find another person that truly can love me for me.
I thought my husband did, and I trusted him to love me unconditionally; realising very abruptly and suddenly one day that he doesn't has been very traumatising to me.

So I suppose what Im asking is: can it really work? Can we really have fulfilling relationships with NTs without one of us severely compromising who we are and what we want?
And if it can work, how? Does it work for anyone here? If so, could you tell me a bit about how you achieve it?
How can I ever trust a partner again when I spent 8 years married to someone who was able to just decide one day that he doesn't love me anymore? I don't understand how people can suddenly fall out of love with someone who has done nothing wrong, as I am loyal to a fault.

If anyone here has any advice on relationships, or stories of their own (the fails and the successes, I want to know both that Im not the only one going through this, AND that it can work for some lol) or comments on what they think I could have done differently, or even if I should have done anything differently at all, it'd all be very appreciated right now.
Im just looking for input from people who are autistic and will understand how it feels to be me right now, having one of the few people I trusted in my life walk out on me because of things I cannot help, and feeling utterly helpless to change that.

(To add, he hasn't been particularly nasty about this, although there have definitely been things he should not have done like dumping this on me while Im totally alone, or not trying to sort things earlier. But while I have some anger toward him currently for sure, I also obviously still care about him and even see his side of it; he has actively said Im a great person who shouldn't feel bad about who I am, and that this is purely an incompatibility issue, and no-one's fault. We are on speaking terms, it is just awkward, at least for me, doesn't seem to be so much for him. But he is showing a remarkable ability to just bounce back and be as he always was, while Im in bits and feel like a zombie. And no, he has 100% assured me there is no-one else, that was the first thing I asked).

Again, sorry for the length but really wanting some autistic input and couldn't post in any of the autism groups where Im known as Im not ready to reveal our separation to my online friends yet.

thanks all



timf
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13 Jan 2020, 10:38 am

I understand that this sudden and unexpected revelation can be devastating. This sort of pain will ebb and then return only slowly diminishing. It is common to turn over all of the events and seek to come to an understanding of what has happened and why.

In such situations, one area that might be a contributing factor is that the other person may have found another object of his attention and your recent classification provides a convenient opportunity to place blame on you.

It may be helpful to intersperse painful periods with some activity that can provide relief such as re-reading a favorite book. One might not be able to prevent others from hurting us, but we may be able to find ways to manage the effects.



Jakki
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13 Jan 2020, 11:08 am

am very sorry thisvhas happened to you and your family ...think fellow should have consider the till death do us part , part of the vows better ..All relationships matriculate ...get older.. and things change . to real bond exists in the friend that has been developed ..it what keeps people to gether.
if he had suspicions and he still married you ..a obligation to that marriage still exists .let your sadness process into anger... let it be... this IS NOT your fault. ideally marriage counseling might be in order, but in reality .. might be time to solicit for a divorce attorney. The sadness will stay withbyou , but please do not let it completely disable you.. Contact a lawyer , energy invested in that can occassionally cause unusual events to occurr. And sometimes in everyones favour. might be surprised so sorry this has happened.


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13 Jan 2020, 11:50 am

Jakki wrote:
am very sorry thisvhas happened to you and your family ...think fellow should have consider the till death do us part , part of the vows better ..All relationships matriculate ...get older.. and things change . to real bond exists in the friend that has been developed ..it what keeps people to gether.
if he had suspicions and he still married you ..a obligation to that marriage still exists .let your sadness process into anger... let it be... this IS NOT your fault. ideally marriage counseling might be in order, but in reality .. might be time to solicit for a divorce attorney. The sadness will stay withbyou , but please do not let it completely disable you.. Contact a lawyer , energy invested in that can occassionally cause unusual events to occurr. And sometimes in everyones favour. might be surprised so sorry this has happened.


Pretty much this. I've been through it twice. I was about your age the first time. Some people just sit there and stew until it boils over. If there's anyone at fault, it's him. He didn't communicate. He was the one who was unavailable emotionally here. It borders on infidelity to not bring this up until now. And the way he did it? Unconscionable. You told him up front what he was getting into, or at least he should have had a good idea when you were diagnosed.

I'm so sorry for you. But you will get through this. You owe it to the future and every person and animal you will ever affect from this point forward.



jimmy m
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13 Jan 2020, 12:19 pm

First off, Welcome to Wrong Planet!

I guess my first question is has you relationship ended, ended or just ended. Since you have not yet divorced is it repairable?

I am an Aspie married to an NT who is an extreme extrovert. I have been married for over 45 years. Our marriage went through rough spats now and then. Perhaps one of the biggest one was when I went through a mid-life crisis. Since your husband is now around the age when men go through mid-life crisis, what you are experiencing may have less to do with you and more to do with him.

According to Wikipedia:
A midlife crisis is a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle-aged individuals, typically 45-55 years old. The phenomenon is described as a psychological crisis brought about by events that highlight a person's growing age, inevitable mortality, and possibly shortcomings of accomplishments in life. This may produce feelings of intense depression, remorse, and high levels of anxiety, or the desire to achieve youthfulness or make drastic changes to their current lifestyle or feel the wish to change past decisions and events.

Mid-life crises last about 3–10 years in men and 2–5 years in women. A mid-life crisis could be caused by aging itself, or aging in combination with changes, problems, or regrets over:

* work or career (or lack thereof)
* spousal relationships (or lack thereof)
* maturation of children (or lack of children)
* aging or death of parents
* physical changes associated with aging

One of the main characteristics of a mid-life crisis perspective, is one assumes that their mid-life is about to be eventful, usually in a negative way, and potentially stressful.

Individuals experiencing a mid-life crisis may feel:

* a deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished
* a fear of humiliation among more successful colleagues
* longing to achieve a feeling of youthfulness
* need to spend more time alone or with certain peers
* a heightened sense of their sexuality or lack thereof
* boredom, confusion, resentment or anger due to their discontent with their marital, work, health, economic, or social status
* ambitious to right the missteps they feel they have taken early in life

So although your focus is on your autism, perhaps the focus should be on his mid-life crisis.

So if your marriage is just ended but not ended ended, perhaps you might try a do over. If so I would recommend a Marriage Encounter Retreat. I went to one several decades ago and found it very helpful.



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13 Jan 2020, 5:50 pm

Welcome to wrong planet. I wish it were under better circumstances.

It is a cliche that is often thrown out when something bad happens to a person that "you can't see it now, but in the long run this will be the best thing to ever happen to you". Sometimes this is true and sometimes not. While you are in a world of hurt and will be for a while this will be if not the best thing to happen to you, I think it was a NECESSARY thing to happen to you. The horrible way he went about breaking up with you indicates to me he never was deserving of you. You are always going to be autistic, you are always going to love dogs and if he can't handle that so be it.

As far as NT/Autistic relationships there are a lot of difficulties be we do have Wrong Planet members here that have made it work. But right now you should deal with the bad thing that just happened instead of thinking of what might happen down the road.


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14 Jan 2020, 4:31 am

Welcome Spacebunny, many of us post here for the first time in difficult situations, you are among peers :)

I've had remarkably similar experiences to you, my response will be biased.
It's possible he thought you might change over time, but the diagnosis confirmed his growing suspicion that you might not. I am sorry for the pain you are now in, the hurt a loved one can cause is so powerful.

Your parents will be back soon and the time alone till then might be beneficial for you to process things emotionally without outside bias. They could be great support that ensure you dont get screwed over in the divorce.

As nice as he might be, the shock of being deceived needs to be, in my biased opinion, heeded for any steps you take from this point on.



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14 Jan 2020, 12:17 pm

The lack of physical and emotional affection will cause some NT men to bail, cheat or both.
It can be very dificult for some NT men to deal with being neglected.

My AS wife was very android like in the beginning but I worked with her instead of bailing and she is so wonderful now and is a total sweetheart now. We have been together for 11 years now so yes a AS female and a NT guy can work as long as both sides are willing to work on it and understand what's the other person needs and try to provide what the other person needs in the relationship.

if either side says tough luck deal with the way I am the relationship will fail more often then not

I am sorry for what you are going through


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14 Jan 2020, 6:35 pm

A situation is more tolerable when there is more hope for a desired change, so your husband may have been doing a re-evaluation, while still running on habits and not bothering you if there might be no change. There is also the chance that he has met someone else, with the timing being mostly random, or more catalysed by mid-life crisis. Even reading a novel can make someone feel like they have been in a rut, wasting the wild variety available for the first time now.

I've had several relationships, and a quick end is better than a slow, bad one by a long way. I'm glad I had 'em, but I can see why I'm not likely to have another. I had the best one after I'd quit always "going along with things" just to be with someone, but saw I was still feeling too compromised.

However, I once travelled for two days partly to meet a happy couple I'd heard of who had both given up on finding a partner. Then, they met while looking at the same book in a store, and never wanted the conversation to end. Life has good surprises when they can be entertained.



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14 Jan 2020, 6:47 pm

Your post was rather long so I didn't read all of it, but I thought I'd offer some input.

I'm not saying your partner is a bad man, but I think he was being a bit selfish. He should understand your social anxiety, and not make you feel bad for not going out to every social event with him. All couples need to do their own thing sometimes, and no matter how much you have in common there's still going to be some things you like that the other one doesn't, and vice versa. So don't blame yourself entirely for him dumping you.

I'm in a relationship with an NT, but he's the one who often refuses sex, not me. It doesn't kill the relationship though, as there's more to a relationship than sex, and also we express love in other ways like kissing, cuddling and touching.


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