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Married To An Aspie: 25 Tips For Spouses

If you are about to embark on a marriage to someone who has Aspergers (high functioning autism), there are a few things that you may need to know (some good, and some not-so-good, perhaps):

1. Although Aspies (i.e., people with Aspergers) do feel affection towards others, relationships are not a priority for them in the same way that it is for neurotypicals or NTs (i.e., individuals without Aspergers).

2. A relationship with an Aspergers partner may take on more of the characteristics of a business partnership or arrangement.

3. Although he genuinely loves his spouse, the Aspie does not know how to show this in a practical way sometimes.

4. An Aspie is often attracted to someone who shares his interests or passions, and this can form a good basis for their relationship.

5. An Aspie needs time alone. Often the best thing the NT partner can do is give her Aspie the freedom of a few hours alone while she visits friends or goes shopping.

6. An Aspie often has a particular interest or hobby. While this may border on obsessive, the NT partner would do well to show interest in it. It may even become something they can do together.

7. An NT partner needs to understand her Aspie’s background in order to work with him on their marriage. She will need patience and perseverance as well as understanding that he functions on a different emotional level to her.

8. Aspies do marry, and while NT partners can be frustrated by their lack of emotion and physical contact, their Aspergers spouses do bring strengths into the relationship. If there is open communication, the NT partner can help her Aspie to improve in areas of weakness and encourage him in the things he is naturally good at.

9. Aspies often has a specific area of weakness in marriage. They often do not feel the need to express love, and the NT partner can help them understand that this is important. Discussions about how to display affection, holding hands in public and buying small gifts can be beneficial, but don’t be surprised if the results are amusing.

10. Aspies typically mature later than NTs. As young adults, they are often emotionally immature and have poor social skills. As time passes, however, they can develop to a point where they are able to enter into a relationship with the opposite sex.

11. Because Aspies tend to talk and act differently to NTs, they commonly attract a specific type of partner. Their spouses are often caring and nurturing and have strong protective instincts. In many ways, they become a link between their Aspie and society.

12. Because the Aspie does not have the same relational needs as the NT partner, he may be unable to recognize instinctively or to meet the emotional needs of his partner. Marriages can thus form some dysfunctional relationship patterns.

13. For NTs who had normal expectations of the mutuality of marriage, there may be a sense of betrayal and a feeling of being used and trapped while in a relationship with an Aspie.

14. In marriage, the Aspie often displays great devotion to his partner and is reliable, honest and faithful.

15. In the privacy of their relationship, the NT partner may become physically and emotionally drained, working overtime to keep life on track for both of them.

16. It’s important to look at the Aspies’s motives rather than his actual behavior.

17. Lowering expectations will make the marriage more predictable and manageable, if not easier.

18. NT partners may begin to feel that they are entirely defined by the role they fill for their Aspie partner. There can be a sense that there is little mutuality, equality and justice.

19. NT partners may feel that they are daily sacrificing their own sense of self to help fulfill the priorities of the Aspie partner.

20. NT partners may resent the reality of living on terms dictated by the needs and priorities of the Aspie partner.

21. Positive traits such as faithfulness and reliability are bonuses, and the NT partner can encourage her Aspie by praising him for these.

22. Sometimes a relationship with an Aspergers partner ends up being more one of practicality and convenience for the Aspie than for the loving and meeting of emotional needs of the NT partner.

23. The Aspie can sometimes be emotionally and physically detached and become focused on a special interest to the exclusion of his partner.

24. The NT partner may unwittingly fill the role of “personal assistant” rather than being an “intimate-romantic partner.”

25. Your Aspie partner may seem to be more focused on a particular interest, project or task than on the people around them.

=>  Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

=> Skype Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and HFA


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Anonymous said...

I relate so much to all of this. I married my Aspie 3 months ago. He's never been diagnosed as he was an adult before it was suggested to him. We've since had therapists suggest it. He strongly believes he is and so do I. Unfortunately, this is not our only struggle as he also is bipolar and flat affect. Periodically threatens or attempts suicide and is a former cocaine addict. I am now pregnant with our second child(the other only being 8 months old) and have 4 children from my first marriage. I feel alone constantly even when he's here. I'm a very emotional person and show it and am very vocal about expressing my needs. I struggle daily with trying to accept and understand that he feels all the things I desperately need and want him to feel. That he just can't show it and express it the way I wish he would. He often says very inappropriate things although he's gotten better about saying them to my parents and children. He says things to make me cry all the time and says he hates it when I cry but then rolls over and goes to sleep. I love this man more than breathing and have since I was 13 and only just found him again. No one can understand what I see in him or why I stay. I spend most of my time desperately unhappy and the rest so sure we were meant to be. Pregnancy hormones and mood swings make it all so much worse. Most of the time it seems like he cares more about making money than he could ever care about me or my children, even the ones that are his. He is fiercely loyal and a wonderful provider. But i have struggles in making him understand that I would rather have more time with him than him working extra shifts. I want him to be excited about and enthralled with everything our daughter does and the new one we'll be having but he always seems so uninterested. I've spent more time miserable and crying in the last 18 months since we found each other again than I have in my ntire life. I know a large part of this is trying to manage my expectations. I've always been very needy and clingy and that just doesn't work anymore. But I also feel so blessed that I'm the one who gets to take care of him for the rest of my life.

Unknown said...

** I LOVE that this thread is so old....if you scroll back, you'll find many of my posts throughout the years. Sadly, my Aspie and I didn't make it, after 15 years...

@Anonymous [1st May 2022]

The big plus for your relationship is your husband being self-aware and that is a great starting point. Counseling would be a huge help to you both.

Have you looked into what both of your Attachment Styles are [Secure, Anxious, Dismissive-Avoidant or Fearful-Avoidant] - this is a gamechanger and often explains a lot of the WHY behind both of your behaviours.

Many Aspies are often Avoidants (as was mine) and in my situation, I have/had an Anxious attachment style - the Anxious/Avoidant dynamic in relationships is difficult (not impossible) to navigate.

I highly recommend the book, ‘Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find--and Keep—Love’, by Amir Levine.

Absolute GAMECHANGER!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am so so sorry. Try to make a like of your own on the side. It’s how I survive.

anonymous said...

I posted a long comment about being married to my Aspie husband on Aug 26, 2015. I was at a low after struggling for 37 years. A quick summary of my post can be stated simply: "I am trying not to be bitter, but I'm burned out. I feel like I gave the best years of my life to him, and I have nothing to look forward to."

I feel now that it is only fair that I write a follow up now, nearly seven years later. We are retired, our kids are grown, there is less stress in our lives, we moved to a beautiful town in California to be closer to our grown children. We have six grandchildren and one more on the way. My Aspie husband and I have grown old together, each of us has been able to accommodate to each other's needs, and I can honestly say that all the bitterness is gone. We are enjoying life together and I am grateful that our marriage survived. Yes, he still has his quirks and I still have my sensitivities, but the love I felt for him when we first got married is back again. He is a weird but wonderful grandfather and the grandkids adore him. Several of them have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum (high functioning- they don't call it Aspergers anymore), but we are pros at this now. I don't see this as an abnormality, I see my husband and grandchildren as interesting, fascinating people with unusual and intense interests. I think they will be more comfortable in their skin and more comfortable with relationships because they are growing up with complete acceptance and appropriate guidance. I just want to let everyone in this situation know that there is hope and even when things look grim and hopeless, it can get better.

JULIA said...

This is Julia [September 18th 2019].

I just re-read my comment (totally forgot I had wrote it] and thought I’d share my somewhat predictable update.

Since that time, I discovered learning about Attachment Styles (AS): Secure, Anxious, Dismissive-Avoidant
& Fearful-Avoidant, and realised I had an Anxious AS & he has a Dismissive-Avoidant AS (on top of being an undiagnosed Aspie, with ZERO self-awareness), which explained a LOT of the why behind both of our behaviours - me chasing and him avoiding.

As I started to heal through a lot
those tendencies and work towards developing a Secure AS, I had come to the point of healing my way out of our relationship.

[I HIGHLY recommend the book, Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find--and Keep-- Love Book by Amir Levine].

After now 15yrs, I finally realised we were never going to get to first base, and sexual intimacy/ and deep authentic connection has always proved impossible, he’s so fearful of all things being engulfed and losing his autonomy, any attachment is really only to his mother and not to me, and he would happily stay forever in a simple child-like existence of movies, dinners, exercise and occasional holidays; providing I keep to all the unspoken rules (and we all know those exist!), he would happily go on forever, so chose to end our relationship for good.

Its taken me YEARS to put together the puzzle pieces and understand the bigger picture. I know he can’t give any more than what he has shown over the years (and probably doesn’t want to!), despite talking a good talk a very good on future taking as a decoy to avoid any emotional conversations.

Anonymous said...

Wow, these comments are really disheartening, like comparing this kind of marriage to water boarding! Did I just get lucky or something?
My husband and I are in our second year of marriage and have a beautiful four-month-old son. He told me he had been diagnosed with high-functioning autism during very early days (before we decide to pursue a romantic relationship), so knowing from the start probably makes a difference, plus I worked in special ed for several years before I found out I was pregnant. Yes, it isn't easy, and we struggle to communicate sometimes. But I wouldn't call our relationship a form of torture.

Anonymous said...

I have been with my husband for 28 years and neither of us knew he had high functioning Asperger’s which is still undiagnosed. I am mentally and physically exhausted, depressed, anxious, probably have PDSD. Only about 8 years ago when we went for couple councelling did the therapist tell me she suspected my husband was on the spectrum. I am angry, confused, annoyed, frustrated, hurt and devastated all of the time. I have felt suicidal and that I am going crazy, no one understands what I am going through, I have 3 children and it has affected them which I feel extremely guilty for. My husband meets none of my needs, affection is non existent so is sex or any kind of emotional connection. Whilst I love my husband I also bitterly resent him. I have tried to be patient but it is impossible when your needs are not being met. I have left him numerous times because he won’t leave and is only concerned with his own needs. I really feel it is an impossible situation to be in and the only option is to save yourself before it is to late. Whilst I know that it isn’t his fault the outcome is still the same. My life is hell. I feel cheated, betrayed, lied to and don’t really know myself any longer or my husband, it is no way to live. Although it is slightly comforting to know I am not alone. It is a very lonely existence to have a partner with this condition. Although the things I did love about him I now hate and I hate myself in the bargain. I yearn for an emotional connection to anyone and it has affected me to such a degree I Don’t know whether I will ever recover from it. I grieve for the life I have been robbed of that I see others having. A living relationship if there is such a thing.

Anonymous said...

Omg you are spot on

Evan Soikie said...

10 years later I leave this comment for those who follow.

When I married my aspie wife nearly 20 years ago I was in the throws of undiagnosed ADHD chaos. Life was like trying to catch chickens... blindfolded. I hated myself for my failures. I couldn't decide between suicide and homelessness.

My undiagnosed aspie wife took me in. She got out of an abusive relationship and told me her daughter needed a father, this had to be long term. I agreed.

In the beginning the criticisms of me felt like needed guidance. In some ways they were. I grew. They were also no worse than what I told myself.

We had more kids (if I was to be a father we should bring it out in me). My poor kids.. we weren't ready to be parents.

As the years went by, I grew. I learned to keep a job, I developed career skills. I learned to support my family.

My wife stayed home. My kids got angry at the neglect. I got angry at their neglect. I had to work, feed the kids, pay the bills and if I didn't clean the house fell apart.

I stayed because the my kids deserved a parent who wasn't always telling them what's wrong with them. Or getting yelled at for interrupting my wife's tv show.

I cried many times, begging for my emotions to be heard, or my experience to be acknowledged. Or my friends to be accepted.

20 years later my wife is diagnosed with Asperger's. I spend my days trying to educate my children, or neighbours, or hurt family members on why she is this way. Why she can't understand them, or behave in ways they find acceptable.

She has grown... In some areas. But I still feel as heard and understood as I did 20 years ago. I eventually realised that I married somebody who will always need to be cared for. I will always be her interpreter to the world. We will always have a certain level of isolation. It will always be hard and trying. But as hard as it is for me, I see how hard it is for her. I can't abandon her.

In the beginning I couldn't be one parent. At the end I can be two when it's needed. It is still hard. It still hurts. But I'm stronger, more patient, more accepting than I ever would have become otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Take care of yourself !!
Me, only 4 months getting to know an ASD man. The silence, no initiating texts (I do all the initiating), sometimes no response to texts, or finally reading my messages a day or two later (apparently he is this way with all his family also, and they get furiously frustrated with him).....
Yeah, don't wait for that wonderful friday or weekend together, he has his interests that come first. If a nice weekend date does materialize, enjoy it in the moment.
Our happiness is not dependent on him/them, it can not be. Live our best life independently. Live, keep busy, rest, always be 100% financially independent, have our friends and own interests/activities. I guess you already know all this, maybe subconsciously I am replying to your post, sort of telling/reminding myself....
I am learning, with him, no expectations! I do have my wishes and desires of course.
Sucks ? I guess so....
But it is what it is.
I enjoy him when he answeres and visits. Other than that, my life is my life and his life is his life.
He sister, my friend, told me he can not initiate or maintain a relationship. So, if I really like him, I must have patience!
I do like him, but not his lack of communication or effort (but when we have been together, we can talk and talk and talk, relaxed, enjoying each other and the time shared). I am learning not to take it personally. Actually, for this, it is a leaning experience. If I can truely not get bothered or negatively affected by all this, then I am stronger!
Maybe I met him to learn about myself. We can only change ourselves.
It is what it is.
Best wishes to you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post (s).
I hope you meet that wonderful woman who is patient, kind and wants to learn and evolve, just like you.
Honest, thoughtful comnunication is so important !!!!
This is what I desire with the ASD man I have met.
Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Reading all these comments and damn there are A LOT of comments (which I love), it is basically reading the same argument me and my aspie boyfriend have been having the past years. I hope he finds an aspie girlfriend in the future. Maybe he and I will be able to be together in another lifetime, even though he ofcourse does not believe in such a thing ;) such a cutiepie he is. And I mean that.

Anonymous said...

Amen! I’m going into my 4th year with my Heart. So happy to read your reply. While my heart aches for those who are unhappily married, my relationship with my partner (while tumultuous at first because I had no idea what was going on…. Lol…. I intuitively knew he was from another planet, but I also knew he wasn’t malicious. There is no coming to consciousness without pain, and I learned a lot about myself in the first 18 months of our relationship. After we separated for a few months and I learned to not make him (or anyone) my Higher Power, I then focused on myself fully. We reunited and since then we have had the most beautiful relationship. It required patience and perseverance on both our parts (because what came natural to me was unnatural to him and vice Versa). But we learned one another and we consciously choose to surrender to one another … surrender parts of ourselves to one another. I’ve had relationships with NTs in the past, and this relationship remains magical. We make it work. Validation is for parking, and I don’t need it from anyone outside myself. We have learned to love ourselves through our journey together, and I truly feel blessed. Love wants closeness, desire wants distance. Because we are mutually-independent … we get the best of both worlds. Open Communication, authenticity, loving action, and lots of laughter along the way….. has made this the little girl fairy tale dream I’ve always wanted. Carl Jung stated, “A marriage is more likely to succeed if the woman follows her own star and remains conscious of her wholeness than if she constantly concerns herself with her husband’s star and his wholeness”. ~ Carl Jung, Conversations with C.G. Jung, Page 51. This has been the case for us. I have my own separate life, hobbies, career, friends, etc. and so does he. We are not an enmeshed, codependent mess of a relationship that most couples around us have… quite the opposite. Anyone struggling in their relationship and losing their identity should check out CODA or a 12 step program. Of course, do not tolerate emotional abuse and if you’re soul is unhappy, then exit the relationship….because life is short. But those who love their Aspie and have radical acceptance that they are not wired the same way as NTs… I can guarantee you there’s a way to make the relationship work where it can become something truly beautiful. It’s only been four years together so far, but we behave like lovers that fell in love at first sight. So…. If you’re a hopeless romantic like me, and you’re open-minded, willing, and honest with yourself… you can have a special relationship that lasts. The bigger the doubt, the bigger the awakening! My partner is worth it, just as I’m worth it to him.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely!!! My relationship with my Aspie (I hate labels…but.. anyways) love (4 years now) is mystical, magical, and divine!

Anonymous said...

Falling deeply in love with an (undiagnosed) Aspie…. Ultimately led me to a spiritual awakening. The relationships taught me how to truly love myself, practice self-acceptance, self-compassion, etc. This, in turn, taught me how to be an even better woman to him. We have a magical relationship where we simply delight in the presence of the Other. We have a blast together. We are not enmeshed or codependent whatsoever on one another. The first year was difficult because I didn’t understand “what was off”, and there is no coming to consciousness without pain. But my God, has the journey so far been worth it. We love one another, we desire one another, we have our mutual love, and we also protect one another’s solitude, too. He’s my soulmate, and we lead spiritual, symbolic lives. I’m grateful everyday. This type of love journey is not for the weak, for those with poor self-esteem, those who need validation, etc. Throughout my life, I was always seeking things outside myself to make me feel whole. I discovered along the way that what I was always seeking was not found withOUT, but it was found withIN. Him and I have an awesome relationship… others always want to know our secret. I know more NT-NT relationships with dysfunction than I can count.

Anonymous said...

Oh where to start. I was in relationship with undiagnosed Aspie for 6 years. I knew initially he had odd behaviours but I was going for it because he was a good man, successful and very intelligent. Very soon I noticed he was obsessively stingy, did not express interest in my well being, wanted things own way always, had no sense of hunger so he couldnt learn I need food when we go out for whole day. He had no sense of danger, often propising really dangerous activities. He wouldnt do anything for me like prepare food after coming back after 12 h shift unless you tell him every single day. He would treat me like business partner when it comes to money. I spent 6 years crying, begging, getting angry to get what I need from relationship but in same time I couldnt leave. He was very helpful when it suited him, he was dedicated to me, always honest, and faithful but he would not do what I like unless he thought it was important. He kept me near him by saying I wont find better man than him and I believed it. Finally I found strenght to break up and I am still traumatised. I dont think I deserved it and I am sorry but Aspies and NT relationship will not work unless you really like to sacrifice your wellbeing and lower expectations to minimum.

Anonymous said...

I didnt know he was autistic, I realised later over time when I was very emotionally involved and lost all self confidence.

Anonymous said...

My ex was affectionate and he always listened to me but life is not only about hugs and kissess but a lot of different aspects and he did not understand at all what I needed. It just had to be his own way, if he agreed something is important he would show care otherwise I am adult and its not his problem..

Anonymous said...

I am interested to know what his eventual diagnosis was as what you are describing sounds more like ADD or ADHD to me

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