Help - communication loops with boundaries

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Hawkfire2032
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11 Nov 2022, 11:14 am

So this issue is nuanced to me - so it will be long - Sorry.

Background - My husband and I have known each other for over twenty years - together for nine - married for four. He and I are both undiagnosed ASD - I am diagnosed with ADHD and working on my diagnosis for ASD - it took me awhile to see it despite prevalence in my family because all the diagnosed spectrum folks are men. I got along well with them and sought a similar partner- but until they changed the diagnostic tools to fit women better I thought I just had some similar traits.

My husband has had confirmation of his ASD from a couples counselor and a social worker but no formal diagnosis. His mother is an NT and he was taught to mask heavily HEAVILY- I was raised by ND - mom is dyslexic at least and Dad is ADHD. I had childhood trauma out of their control but wasn't really forced to mask until I went out on my own. I also have pretty privilege so my weirdness was embraced as quirky and cute.

I need help understanding the feedback loops my husband and I get into. Due to therapy I have worked hard to directly vocalize my feelings even when I logically think they are irrational. Specifically with sexual trauma triggers - I try to say clearly this is what is happening so he is aware. I never tell him he has to do anything with this information- I just think it's important to say to a partner "this triggers me" so they can understand my behavior. As much as I would like him to not do things that trigger me - the main thing I need is to know if he will or will not do those things so I can protect myself accordingly.

He takes this as emotional manipulation or me telling him what to do. He may even lie to placate me which makes it worse. I feel like no matter how direct I am - he still judges me as a NT who uses direct words to ask for indirect things or has more underneath what I am saying.

This happens all the time even with asking for more support with mental chores etc - he takes my direct words and decides I am saying things underneath them.

I know he is ND - but it's like he is so used to dealing with the NT world he cannot hear me - he tries to hear subtext I'm not saying.

Has anyone ever dealt with these kinds of challenges?
I feel like as long as it isn't too emotional our communication is perfect - then when emotions come into play he immediately gets defensive.

I hate talking about emotions - but you have to in relationships and it helps avoid misunderstanding- I really need help understanding what happens to heavily masked individuals in these situations. I'm causing him stress in these situations but I don't think it's a fair to just decide I shouldn't speak my needs...

Again sorry it is so long - it's a nuanced issue..



nick007
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12 Nov 2022, 5:37 am

My girlfriend has a brother who is an Aspie who often blames others for his own emotions. He talks about his emotional stuff quite a lot but if Cass brings up an issue that could be related to the way he's acting like her being triggered by something or bothered by something, he'll automatically take it as a personal attack & thinks she's trying to blame him & tell him what to do & he accuses her of making him anxious or angry or whatever. He projects his issues onto others a lot. It's probably why Cass can deal with me so easily, I try my best to be supportive & understanding of her & her emotional & other issues. Anyways... He was bullied a lot growing up & had lots of health issues so that may be related. If your guy is like that OP, he may not really be capable of dealing with information related to emotions or at least cant deal with others emotions. If there's something you want or need from him, you could try telling him directly what you want while leaving out all the emotional stuff related to it. However if that upsets him as well, I see 3 choices.

1~ You try to get him to agree to couple's counseling. If he agrees, try to find one who has some knowledge & experience dealing with autism. However he might see that suggestion as a form of manipulation.

2~ You accept that you just can not talk to him about emotional types of things & that you will not get him to change his behavior. You could try to get your emotional support elsewhere like seeing a counselor on your own, talking to family & friends, or posting on this forum.

3~ You realize that you two are just not compatible & you decide to break up. If you do get to this point, I would try getting him to agree to couple's counseling 1st & if he refuses, tell him you'll leave him if he doesn't try to work on things. I generally hate ultimatums but they can be the nuclear option if you are at the point where you are ready to break up but you have to mean it & really break up if he doesn't try.


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Hawkfire2032
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12 Nov 2022, 3:11 pm

Thank you.

As I mentioned I'm Autistic as well and yes he does have aspects of your gfs brother but only when he is triggered himself. I'm realizing he has some extreme somatic empathy and shuts down when his feelings overwhelm him.

Paul was bullied as well as a kid and was expected to mask heavily at home as well.

Thanks for the breakdown of three options. This isn't at a crisis point - most the time we are good - it's just when big emotions do arise (as they occasionally will when raising a family together) we have this hurdle.

I think it must be especially hard for people on the spectrum who were bullied in school and couldn't be themselves at home.



Juliette
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13 Nov 2022, 8:08 pm

Naturally it’s better if you’re able to communicate these things verbally, as they arise, but couples on the spectrum can find emailing/texting/messaging each other is more effective at times, especially on the important things, often in the aftermath of conflict Over-reactions, misunderstandings, defensiveness can all occur in AS relationships & with neurotypicals too, but due to intensity of emotions, anxiety etc, remaining rational, being understanding & caring, for some, is easier via writing/typing. We process things better with the solitude and are more likely to rationally express our thoughts, needs & views more clearly via the written word/typing.

I understand all the hard work you’ve put in to verbalise your needs already. If this isn’t working, there might need to be a different approach.

I agree with nick that your other half is likely taking things personally, without fully understanding where you’re coming from. You deserve respect here, but in the moment, he’s not taking the time to stop & genuinely take it in. It’s a knee-jerk, defensive response. You are being judged wrongly but hopefully, with better communication, this will change. Once he gets that you have no hidden agenda, then hopefully he’ll start realising you simply need him to respect you & these very important boundaries, for both of your sakes.

I think it’s wonderful that you’ve endured and are committed to working on your relationship. You clearly have something very special. In alot of relationships, things can go awry when couples forget that they’re a team, that your aim is to overcome & find solutions together, with love & mutual respect. Hope that things will be alot smoother for you both soon.



nick007
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13 Nov 2022, 11:14 pm

Juliette wrote:
I think it’s wonderful that you’ve endured and are committed to working on your relationship. You clearly have something very special. In alot of relationships, things can go awry when couples forget that they’re a team, that your aim is to overcome & find solutions together, with love & mutual respect. Hope that things will be alot smoother for you both soon.
Well said :D


Couples should try to work together as a team & while it is good to try & work on issues together, it is practically impossible to never have disagreements or misunderstandings, especially when one or both of us is on the spectrum. Sometimes couples can focus too much on trying to make their relationship perfect & they can lose sight of why they got together in the 1st place & they forget how to relax & enjoy themselves together.

Me & my gf both have various issues we're dealing with & while it can be very easy to trigger each other sometimes, the phrase "Pick your battles" is my motto. When I get upset these days, I try & bite my tongue so to speak instead of snapping & acting out at her. If I can restrain myself, I usually feel better a few minutes later. In sever cases I leave the room without really saying anything & she comes & apologizes to me after a bit. I did NOT always do that thou. We had LOTS of fights in the earlier stages of our relationship. We would both get upset & say things in the heat of the moment & then we both felt like complete [email protected] for the rest of the day. I eventually realized that most things are just NOT worth fighting about & hating myself after. We still have disagreements & misunderstandings but we try to accept each other the way we are instead of taking things personally that were not intended to be. Sometimes a compromise can not be reached & one of us just has to give in. I would rather give in than breakup.


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Juliette
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15 Nov 2022, 5:57 pm

Thanks Nick. Really respect your wisdom and always read what you have to share, with great interest.

Thinking of Hawkefire & her husband & wishing them well.