Aspergers Men and Relationship Difficulties

Question

Through my own research, and now consultation with a Master's level psychologist, I am convinced, after almost 5 years of excruciating loneliness, isolation, depression, and heartache, that my husband has Asperger's. He is a very, very smart, attractive guy who can be the kindest person I know...but he can also be unbelievably stubborn (or so I thought) and verbally/emotionally abusive. He is completely detached from me and our young daughter, and after five years of marriage, we have had sex maybe 20 times, and have not had any sexual contact (even so much as a "real" kiss) in 18 months. While this is devastating to me, my husband seems totally unaffected by it, and now I guess I understand why... he has always said that it is my problem to deal with...I'm the one that wants it, not him. With no history of depression or anything like it, the isolation and constantly being blamed for everything wrong with the marriage, and having every little thing about me picked apart daily, I spiraled into a major depression that I am just finding my way out of.

Having discovered Asperger's, I have been able to let go (with God's help) of so much of the hurt and resentment that wouldn't leave because the heartbreaking events were almost daily. I really do see my husband in a different light, and it is helping me to cope for the time being. I was always baffled by his behavior because I truly believe he is a good man, but even in describing some scenarios that have played out in our home to my counselor; he can sound like an abusive monster. I love him with all my heart, and I want nothing more than to keep my family intact, and for our daughter to experience as healthy a childhood as we can possibly provide. My main problem lies in my husband's refusal to acknowledge that anything is going on.

He has extreme sensory issues (very very very limited diet, and has told me it makes his skin crawl when I kiss him softly, etc., etc., etc.), but he insists that it couldn't be Asperger's or any other thing that can be "labeled" (his word). I tried very calmly and lovingly explaining that if he was in fact living with Asperger's, that is certainly did not mean anything was "wrong" with him...that I felt from my reading that it simply is an explanation for some of his thought processes, etc., and that most people with Aspergers are extremely bright, productive individuals. I wanted him to see it as the positive thing that I did, but he completely shut me down and got very angry. I apologized for bringing it up, and told him that I loved him and meant no disrespect at all. I already feel like he is annoyed with me and with life in general about 95% of the time, so I just wanted to get back to a peaceful situation as quickly as possible.

If he will not acknowledge the situation, how can we get help? I am so willing to walk to this road with him, but I cannot continue to walk it alone...being blamed for everything...it takes all of my emotional energy just to get from day to day...I am constantly exhausted and drained...any thoughts?


Answer

Many partners assume that emotionally unavailable "Aspies" (i.e., people with Aspergers and high-functioning autism) choose to reject intimacy because they have fallen out of love. This is not the case. Remaining emotionally-distant is rarely a choice; it's more like a case of “social-ignorance disease” (also called mindblindness) that often operates at a subconscious level.

As if being unable to healthily connect in a relationship weren’t bad enough, those who suffer from Aspergers usually want a connection the most, but don’t have the proper circuits operating in their brain to establish one.

If you’re married to an emotionally unavailable Aspie, you should always consider marriage counseling before you make the final decision of separating or getting a divorce. In counseling, when each person expresses his/her thoughts and feelings about the relationship in front of a therapist whose job it is to remain objective, new light is shed on the problems in the marriage. The Aspie may feel more inclined to present his side in a way that his partner can understand. Also, the person suffering in the relationship because of their partner’s emotional unavailability can openly discuss the pain it causes without the fear of being tuned out or dismissed.

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