Asperger's is destroying my Marriage

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MJ D
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17 Jul 2021, 3:56 pm

Hey everyone. First post here. Male Aspie. 48.

I spent decades trying my best to work on my own through a lot of social issues with disasterous results, until I figured things out to a point I could be somewhat functional in developing relationships. About 5 years ago I was able to at least get some dates here and there and even have a few relationships less than a year or so before they imploded (mostly my fault looking back).

I got married a little over a year and a half ago. Absolutely wonderful (normal) woman. I could not have asked for a better wife. And now I'm destroying it.

She thinks I don't love her, have no sympathy or empathy, don't care about her, etc. She believes actions speak louder than words and all of my actions tell her I'm cold and heartless, even when I tell her every day that I love her and she's beautiful. I say things that constantly embarrass, insult, offend and break her heart. She says she feels ignored and lonely and her self esteem has dropped to nothing.

I thought I overcame a lot of my issues and was ready for this, but I'm finding there are so many areas I left undiscovered and untreated with this level of intimacy that it took to expose them.

I've decided to get the help I've always needed but denied and I'm starting therapy on Monday, but I fear it may be too late. I have tried to sit down and calmly explain Asperger's to her. She's struggling to understand it, and I'm not sure if she's too exhausted and spent at this point to try to make it work.

Does anyone have any experience or tips on how to diplomatically navigate through the mystery of other people's emotions and feelings?



Velorum
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17 Jul 2021, 5:11 pm

This is my personal experience.

I am on my third marriage now and building on my past experiences I now have a better blue print in my head of the things that need to be done and said to go some way to meeting the emotional and psychological needs of a PNT and share living space with one.

Its still hard and tiring work and now, in my 62nd year I have concluded that if I were able to tell my younger self something it would be to avoid trying to 'be normal' and make myself stressed and unhappy by fitting into a PNT life style or embarking on and maintaining conventional relationships.

Last week my eldest daughter, commenting on the number of relationships Ive had and how they have ended, reminded me of the Einstein quote "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

I have concluded that whilst I appear to need to have a close relationship with a significant other - this would work out best if we lived in separate places and they were similar to me in the respect of needing to be on their own for significant periods of time and largely uncommunicative when together.

I am unlikely to achieve that now I think. I love my wife dearly although we cause each other great anxiety due to our particular mix of autism & PNT - if our relationship ended at some point I really dont think that I would have the energy or motivation to become engaged in another.

A much earlier autism identification might have helped me make much wiser choices throughout my life regarding relationships.

Sorry, this is probably not as positive a response as you were looking for - but perhaps another perspective is in some small way helpful.


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MJ D
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17 Jul 2021, 6:38 pm

Quote:
if our relationship ended at some point I really dont think that I would have the energy or motivation to become engaged in another.


Not only do I feel the same way, it's something I actually tell my wife often, when in anger, she tells me I might be better off with someone else. She doesn't understand the gravity of my statement. She thinks it's something a lot of guys say...until they meet the next one and forget all about it.

So I'm of the same mind. If this doesn't work, I'm done. I have a daughter who loves me, and that I can survive just fine on. But I'm not going to try to find another.

That said, my wife has been completely selfless and all giving. She has spent countless nights by my daughter's bedside as she went through the worst of chemotherapy. She hasnt pulled any punches in taking very good care of me as well.

I owe her nothing less than whatever effort I can muster to accommodate her the best I can. If at that point she feels she cannot continue, then I will respect that.

Thanks for the response. It did resonate.



browneyedgirlslowingdown
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17 Jul 2021, 10:19 pm

Hi,

I am unsure if this will be helpful, but I would like to offer this. Have you spent any time asking her how she best feels loved? Sometimes I think we do things that we think make another person feel loved, but it does not land that way. If her love bank were filled in the way she needs, maybe she could be more forgiving and considerate of your differences.

I feel the same way, I have a boyfriend now. He is lovely. If it ends, I don't have the energy to do it again with anyone and will focus on myself and my kids. I know that people think I am not serious, but I am.

Good Luck


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Mona Pereth
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18 Jul 2021, 6:10 pm

MJ D wrote:
She thinks I don't love her, have no sympathy or empathy, don't care about her, etc. She believes actions speak louder than words and all of my actions tell her I'm cold and heartless, even when I tell her every day that I love her and she's beautiful.

What specific kinds of actions (or non-actions) does she complain about?

MJ D wrote:
I say things that constantly embarrass, insult, offend and break her heart.

Can you give some specific examples? (Answer this question only if you feel comfortable discussing them here.)

Also, in what kinds of contexts does she say you "embarrass" her? Do you attend any social events as a couple, for example?

MJ D wrote:
She says she feels ignored and lonely and her self esteem has dropped to nothing.

Has she told you what specific kinds of things she wants you to do that would make her feel less "ignored"?

Also, are there any unusual needs that you have (e.g. sensory issues, attention focus issues, or a need for structure or predictability) that she doesn't relate to and perhaps doesn't believe are quite real?

MJ D wrote:
I thought I overcame a lot of my issues and was ready for this, but I'm finding there are so many areas I left undiscovered and untreated with this level of intimacy that it took to expose them.

I've decided to get the help I've always needed but denied and I'm starting therapy on Monday, but I fear it may be too late. I have tried to sit down and calmly explain Asperger's to her. She's struggling to understand it, and I'm not sure if she's too exhausted and spent at this point to try to make it work.

Does anyone have any experience or tips on how to diplomatically navigate through the mystery of other people's emotions and feelings?

How well does she communicate her needs? Does she even believe in communicating her needs, or does she expect you to read her mind?


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Mona Pereth
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18 Jul 2021, 6:14 pm

Velorum wrote:
This is my personal experience.

I am on my third marriage now and building on my past experiences I now have a better blue print in my head of the things that need to be done and said to go some way to meeting the emotional and psychological needs of a PNT and share living space with one.

I don't recall running into the term "PNT" before. I tried Googling it and didn't turn up anything that looked relevant. So then I finally Googled "PNT autism" and found a few articles containing the term "predominant neurotype (PNT)" -- apparently it's a synonym for what we usually call "neurotypical" (NT)?


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MJ D
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18 Jul 2021, 10:19 pm

browneyedgirlslowingdown wrote:
Hi,

Have you spent any time asking her how she best feels loved?


We started to have discussions along that line. I came to find it wasn't so much the things I did right or that I wasn't doing anything right, but in the things I did wrong or just didn't do.

The main issue is just how I was completely unaware of how my actions insinuated that I didn't make her feel loved, like not huggingbher when she cried, or how I would spend hours absorbed entirely by some obsession as she laid there next to me feeling ignored .

So we're working out a way to calmly and quietly communicate constructively on these issues when they happen; what I do, when I do it, how it makes her feel when I do these things, etc so that I can become aware and address it...rather than jump straight into highly emotional fighting.



MJ D
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19 Jul 2021, 12:18 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
What specific kinds of actions (or non-actions) does she complain about?


Also, in what kinds of contexts does she say you "embarrass" her?


Has she told you what specific kinds of things she wants you to do that would make her feel less "ignored"?

Also, are there any unusual needs that you have (e.g. sensory issues, attention focus issues, or a need for structure or predictability) that she doesn't relate to and perhaps doesn't believe are quite real?


How well does she communicate her needs? Does she even believe in communicating her needs, or does she expect you to read her mind?


One of our biggest issues is that she wasn't aware of my issues, so she interpreted everything I did as of it was driven by a feeling or lack thereof, where most of my actions are pragmatic and logical and rarely reflect my feelings (other than anger driven by frustration).

I can't really provide a long list of what I did in particular to make her feel this way as I'm just starting to find these things out myself, but we had some very good progress today addressing the facets of Asperger's and the difference in how her mind works and mine, which reveled a lot of our problems.

We actually found that when she tried to draw for me a diagram of how her minds works, and then I redrew it to show how mine works, that it really helped the both of us see the difference more clearly.

So we came to an agreement. From now on she will calmly point out when I'm doing something that makes her feel bad and why she feels that way. In turn, I will explain why I did what I did and learn from what she told me so I can actually become aware of it and address her concerns moving forward.

No more assumed interpretations of my feelings on her part. I told her I think this will be less exhausting for me, to learn...rather than guess, assume, fail and fight over and over like we have been.

I told her I also need some breaks from time to time. Allotted opportunities to just indulge my obsessions or be alone to decompress.



DW_a_mom
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19 Jul 2021, 2:08 am

It sounds like you've just made an excellent start to sorting it all out. I'm surprised the issues didn't show up while dating, but maybe it's better this way: you both have a stronger reason (the marriage) to see if you can figure it out.

Having the NT partner learn to say very specifically what they need and want, and how your bluntness makes them feel, seems to be important to making these relationships work. In the flip, having the ASD partner learn to temper their bluntness while also learning to make the occasional "silly" gesture helps, too. If you need special calendar reminders to prepare for her birthday or your anniversary, do it. ASK what kinds of gifts and surprises she likes, and supply them. But also make sure she understands that doing things like that isn't natural for you, but you want to do your best so she will feel loved.

Even though my son is now with an ASD woman, he's still battling these issues. She didn't grow up knowing she was ASD and learned life by mimicking, leaving her to infer feelings from common NT actions. Makes an interesting mix.

As a parent, I have long truly believed I could help a girlfriend navigate my son if only one would be willing to talk to me about such things, but they never are. So our family does a little teasing of him in her presence to remind her that he never remembers any family birthdays until we remind him, that he never thinks of helping but always will when asked, and that we can count on our fingers the number of people in his life he will make efforts to spend time with (so clearly he cares for her, given she tops his list of time invested).

It can all be worked out, I truly believe, but you will both need to communicate thoroughly and often.


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ezbzbfcg2
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19 Jul 2021, 2:13 am

It takes two to tango. Be as willing to work it out as readily as possible. But if she's not on board...it's over. Both parties have to be willing to dance, or else it ends. TRUTH.



Mona Pereth
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19 Jul 2021, 4:01 am

MJ D wrote:
We actually found that when she tried to draw for me a diagram of how her minds works, and then I redrew it to show how mine works, that it really helped the both of us see the difference more clearly.

So we came to an agreement. From now on she will calmly point out when I'm doing something that makes her feel bad and why she feels that way. In turn, I will explain why I did what I did and learn from what she told me so I can actually become aware of it and address her concerns moving forward.

No more assumed interpretations of my feelings on her part. I told her I think this will be less exhausting for me, to learn...rather than guess, assume, fail and fight over and over like we have been.

I told her I also need some breaks from time to time. Allotted opportunities to just indulge my obsessions or be alone to decompress.

Sounds great! I hope you and she can continue to work things out with each other.


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browneyedgirlslowingdown
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19 Jul 2021, 8:23 am

MJ D wrote:
browneyedgirlslowingdown wrote:
Hi,

Have you spent any time asking her how she best feels loved?


We started to have discussions along that line. I came to find it wasn't so much the things I did right or that I wasn't doing anything right, but in the things I did wrong or just didn't do.

The main issue is just how I was completely unaware of how my actions insinuated that I didn't make her feel loved, like not huggingbher when she cried, or how I would spend hours absorbed entirely by some obsession as she laid there next to me feeling ignored .

So we're working out a way to calmly and quietly communicate constructively on these issues when they happen; what I do, when I do it, how it makes her feel when I do these things, etc so that I can become aware and address it...rather than jump straight into highly emotional fighting.


Sometimes NT's expect to be understood and recognized without having to communicate, it's good that she is realizing that she has to tell you what she wants, and how she wants it. I would try to focus just on what she wants, and not focus on things with you, part of the problem lies with her if she isn't even saying what she wants but only how she feels.

Hope it works out!


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Diagnosed ASD 5/17/21
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Your broader autism cluster (Aspie) score: 153 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 50 of 200
You are very likely on the broader autism cluster (Aspie)
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CAT-Q 156 Compensation 56 Masking 48 Assimilation 52


cornerpiece
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19 Jul 2021, 10:28 pm

MJ D wrote:
We actually found that when she tried to draw for me a diagram of how her minds works, and then I redrew it to show how mine works, that it really helped the both of us see the difference more clearly.

How do you draw these diagrams?
I might want to try...
Can you provide examples?



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19 Jul 2021, 10:56 pm

MJ D wrote:
She thinks I don't love her, have no sympathy or empathy, don't care about her, etc. She believes actions speak louder than words and all of my actions tell her I'm cold and heartless, even when I tell her every day that I love her and she's beautiful. I say things that constantly embarrass, insult, offend and break her heart. She says she feels ignored and lonely and her self esteem has dropped to nothing.

I've decided to get the help I've always needed but denied and I'm starting therapy on Monday, but I fear it may be too late. I have tried to sit down and calmly explain Asperger's to her. She's struggling to understand it, and I'm not sure if she's too exhausted and spent at this point to try to make it work. ?


There's a saying that it "takes two to tango"

Since you are taking positive steps (therapy) to understand yourself and how you can be closer to your wife, I think she needs to also understand Aspergers syndrome. Has she been educated on Aspergers? How much does she know? It sounds like she didn't know what she was signing up for, If she wants this relationship to work then she also needs to meet you half-way.

Now from your perspective somewhere in this breakdown her emotional needs are not being met. When you get your therapy you need to be proactive with your therapist in explaining what the specific issue is and not leave it up to them to decide for you. In my experience (working with my daughter) if you don't guide the therapist and keep reminding them of your goals you will be throwing money down the drain.



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20 Jul 2021, 10:51 am

This is why I’m not willing to date NTs.


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Velorum
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20 Jul 2021, 4:11 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
Velorum wrote:
This is my personal experience.

I am on my third marriage now and building on my past experiences I now have a better blue print in my head of the things that need to be done and said to go some way to meeting the emotional and psychological needs of a PNT and share living space with one.

I don't recall running into the term "PNT" before. I tried Googling it and didn't turn up anything that looked relevant. So then I finally Googled "PNT autism" and found a few articles containing the term "predominant neurotype (PNT)" -- apparently it's a synonym for what we usually call "neurotypical" (NT)?


Non autistic people = predominant neurotype (PNT)

A term popularized by Luke Beardon.


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