You talked in your ebook about behavior modification... I need some tips on how to connect with my wife’s emotions... That is her big complaint... As you know I do not understand them, I don't recognize them when they arise in their many subtleties... She will usually begin an emotional outburst by accusing me of a generalization like: "You NEVER take me out anymore!" I get defensive cause in my mind. I took her out last year, and as you aptly pointed out in your book, my main emotion is: ANGER. The fight then escalates to me leaving and not talking to her for a day or more...
Males and females approach problems with similar goals but with different considerations. While males and females can solve problems equally well, their approach and their process are often quite different. For most females, sharing and discussing a problem presents an opportunity to explore, deepen or strengthen the relationship with the person they are talking with. Women are usually more concerned about how problems are solved than merely solving the problem itself. For females, solving a problem can profoundly impact whether they feel closer and less alone or whether they feel distant and less connected. The process of solving a problem can strengthen or weaken a relationship. Most males are less concerned and do not feel the same as females when solving a problem.
Males approach problems in a very different manner than females. For most males, solving a problem presents an opportunity to demonstrate their competence, their strength of resolve, and their commitment to a relationship. How the problem is solved is not nearly as important as solving it effectively and in the best possible manner. Males have a tendency to dominate and to assume authority in a problem solving process. They set aside their feelings provided the dominance hierarchy was agreed upon in advance and respected. They are often distracted and do not attend well to the quality of the relationship while solving problems.
Some of the more important differences between males and females can be illustrated by observing groups of young teenage boys and groups of young teenage girls when they attempt to find their way out of a maze. A group of boys generally establish a hierarchy or chain of command with a leader who emerges on his own or through demonstrations of ability and power. Boys explore the maze using scouts while remaining in distant proximity to each other. Groups of girls tend to explore the maze together as a group without establishing a clear or dominant leader. Relationships tend to be co-equal. Girls tend to elicit discussion and employ "collective intelligence" to the task of discovering a way out. Girls tend to work their way through the maze as a group. Boys tend to search and explore using structured links and a chain of command.
While males and females can reach similar conclusions and make similar decisions, the process they use can be quite different and in some cases can lead to entirely different outcomes. In general, males and females consider and process information differently.
Females tend to be intuitive global thinkers. They consider multiple sources of information within a process that can be described as simultaneous, global in perspective and will view elements in the task in terms of their inter-connectedness. Females come to understand and consider problems all at once. They take a broad or "collective" perspective, and they view elements in a task as interconnected and interdependent. Females are prone to become overwhelmed with complexities that "exist", or may exist, and may have difficulty separating their personal experience from problems.
Males tend to focus on one problem at a time or a limited number of problems at a time. They have an enhanced ability to separate themselves from problems and minimize the complexity that may exist. Males come to understand and consider problems one piece at a time. They take a linear or sequential perspective, and view elements in a task as less interconnected and more independent. Males are prone to minimize and fail to appreciate subtleties that can be crucial to successful solutions. A male may work through a problem repeatedly, talking about the same thing over and over, rather than trying to address the problem all at once.
While there are differences in the ways that males and females think, it must be emphasized that they can and do solve problems in a similar manner. There are no absolutes, only tendencies.
Females have an enhanced ability to recall memories that have strong emotional components. They can also recall events or experiences that have similar emotions in common. Females are very adept at recalling information, events or experiences in which there is a common emotional theme. Males tend to recall events using strategies that rely on reconstructing the experience in terms of elements, tasks or activities that took place. Profound experiences that are associated with competition or physical activities are more easily recalled. There appears to be a structural and chemical basis for observed memory differences. For instance, the hippocampus, the area in the brain primarily responsible for memory, reacts differently to testosterone in males and it reacts differently to changing levels of estrogen and progesterone in females. Females tend to remember or be reminded of different "emotional memories" and content to some extent as part of their menstrual cycle.
There is evidence to suggest that a great deal of the sensitivity that exists within males and females has a physiological basis. It has been observed that is many cases, females have an enhanced physical alarm response to danger or threat. Their autonomic and sympathetic systems have a lower threshold of arousal and greater reactivity than males. In both males and females, higher levels of testosterone directly affect the aggressive response and behavior centers of the brain. Increasing estrogen and progesterone in males has a "feminizing" effect. Sexually aggressive males become less focused on sexual aggressive behavior and content when they are given female hormones. On the other hand, changing estrogen and progesterone levels in females during menstrual cycles can produce a "flood" of memories as well as strong emotions. Increasing or high levels of testosterone can produce an emotional insensitivity, empathic block and increased indifference to the distress others.
At the heart of sensitivity is our capacity to form, appreciate and maintain relationships that are rewarding. Even here there are important differences. For males, what demonstrates a solid relationship is quite different from that of most females. Males feel closer and validated through shared activities. Such activities include sports, competition, outdoor activities or sexual activities that are decidedly active and physical. While both males and females can appreciate and engage in these activities, they often have preferential differences. Females, on the other hand, feel closer and validated through communication, dialogue and intimate sharing of experience, emotional content and personal perspectives. Many males tend to find such sharing and involvement uncomfortable, if not, overwhelming.
How A Man With Aspergers Can Connect With His Wife’s Emotions—
1. Allow your wife to express herself freely, without fear of being called illogical or dumb.
2. Allow her to teach you things without being defensive.
3. Ask her and then listen to what makes her fearful and insecure (without judging).
4. Be a good listener. Show your wife you value what she says.
5. Be careful to choose your words, especially when angry.
6. Be especially helpful when she is not feeling well.
7. Be helpful and cooperative, both before and during the time you have other people over to your home.
8. Be sensitive enough to ask your wife if you offend or hurt her sexually in any way.
9. Be supportive. For example, help your wife to finish her education and goals that are important to her.
10. Be sympathetic when she’s sick—and help her however you can.
11. Be verbally supportive and honor your wife in front of the children.
12. Brag about your wife to others, both in front of her and when she is not with you.
13. Call, email or text your wife when you’re apart so she knows you are thinking of her.
14. Communicate with your wife instead of talking AT her or shutting her out emotionally.
15. Compliment your wife for the giftedness you see in her. Be specific.
16. Consider your wife as your marital partner in how you spend money.
17. Continue to court your wife. You dated her before marriage, which helped you to fall in love, now date her to STAY in love.
18. Defend your wife to others—especially to your family.
19. Do something active together to lift her spirit —even taking a walk hand-in-hand.
20. Don’t belittle her intelligence.
21. Don’t criticize your wife in front of others—keeping her dignity intact.
22. Don’t embarrass your wife by arguing with her in front of others.
23. Don’t focus on the physical features of another woman (because, whether you understand her reasoning or not, that can make your spouse feel dishonored).
24. Don’t forget to hold her hand in public like you used to when you dated her.
25. Don’t ignore the small things that bother your wife and let them build into bigger issues.
26. Don’t negatively compare her relatives with yours.
27. Don’t tease and belittle your wife, saying “I was just joking” when she doesn’t find it funny.
28. Encourage your wife to relax in some way while you clean up after dinner.
29. Exhibit humility, admit your mistakes, and ask for forgiveness. She’ll appreciate that.
30. Express to your wife that you need and value her.
31. Express your love and appreciation for your wife in a love note which you give to her.
32. Find out what her sexual needs are (and then try to fulfill them).
33. Find something that makes you laugh together.
34. Find ways to help your wife know you are her partner in all areas life.
35. Fix dinner for your wife sometimes.
36. Give your wife grace when she offends you – and forgive (even as you want to be forgiven).
37. Give your wife the love gift of being thoughtful and considerate to her relatives.
38. Give your wife your undivided attention when she wants to talk.
39. Go out of your way to help your wife feel valued over everyone else.
40. Go shopping with your wife and don’t sigh or look at what time it is even once.
41. Guard your tongue from saying “unwholesome words” or down-grading her.
42. Hold your wife close and verbally express your love when she is hurt or discouraged.
43. Honor your wife by not disagreeing with her in front of the children.
44. Keep her trust at all costs. Leave no gray area when it comes to other female relationships, money and your word.
45. Keep yourself in as good of shape as is reasonable so she’s proud to be with you.
46. Let go of the small stuff. We all have annoying habits and preferences that are different from our spouse’s.
47. Maintain good grooming habits so you look and smell good. It shows you care.
48. Make a point of honoring anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions.
49. Make eye contact when she is talking to you and when you are talking with her.
50. Make it a point to write a mission statement together for your marriage and family.
51. Make sure she has money each paycheck to spend any way she would choose.
52. Make sure the children speak to your wife and treat her in respectful ways.
53. Make the time to set specific goals with your wife to achieve together for each year.
54. Plan a mini-honeymoon, where the two of you can spend quality time together.
55. Pray about and act upon what you can do to alleviate any fears.
56. Put your arms around your wife when she needs comfort, holding her silently.
57. Refuse to compare your wife unfavorably with others.
58. Relate what happened at work or whatever you did apart from her.
59. Remember to tell your wife or call her as soon as you know you are going to be late.
60. Run errands without complaining.
61. Scratch her back, rub her feet, or her rub her neck—whatever she’d prefer.
62. Share the responsibilities around the house (without looking for special recognition).
63. Show affection for your wife in front of friends.
64. Show enthusiasm for the things that she’s excited about—let your actions show it.
65. Show your wife affection without sexual intentions.
66. Show your wife that she matters more to you than any activity you could do, or any one you could be with, that somehow threatens her sense of security in your marriage.
67. Show your wife that you prefer her to others—give her your attention whenever possible.
68. Show your wife you are her marital partner by not making plans without her knowing and agreeing with them (unless it’s a surprise for her).
69. Show interest in her friends and give her time to be with them.
70. Show interest in that which she values as important in her life.
71. Sit close to your wife —even when you are just watching television.
72. Start - and end - each day with a kiss.
73. Stay away from web sites, chat rooms or anything that gives you sexual gratification from anyone other than your spouse.
74. Surprise your wife by asking her to give you a list of 3 things she’d like done around the house within the next month. And then make it your goal to do them.
75. Surprise your wife by doing some things around the house that she’s wanted done.
76. Surprise your wife by doing something you think she would want done before she asks.
77. Surprise your wife by giving her a special gift from time to time.
78. Surprise your wife by suggesting a marriage seminar or weekend retreat you can attend together to deepen your marital relationship.
79. Surprise your wife from time-to-time with a card and flowers or a little gift.
80. Surprise your wife with a 15 second kiss (with no expectations to go any further).
81. Take your wife out to breakfast or make her breakfast (cleaning up afterward).
82. Take the time to touch every day—even if it’s only for a minute or two.
83. Talk to your wife respectfully without demeaning her or hurting her feelings.
84. Tell your wife (and show her) you love her often.
85. Thank God for your wife by name when the two of you are praying together.
86. Try not to argue over money. Peacefully discuss future expenditures instead.
87. Try not to make sudden changes without discussing them with her first.
88. View and treat your wife as if God put a sign over her that said, “Make me feel special.”
89. When you feel you must correct your wife, be gentle —speaking the truth in LOVE. Allow her to teach you things without being defensive.
90. When you’ve been apart for a time and she asks how your day went, don’t just say “fine” — actually give her details.
Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples