Aspergers Adults and Relationship Difficulties


My son and my husband both have an Aspergers diagnosis. My husband and I no longer live together, and the diagnosis came a year after we separated, following my son’s. My husband no longer wants to work at the relationship and has given up (in my opinion). The divorce paperwork has been initiated.

1) How do you handle a spouse who refuses to accept the diagnosis and its impact on the marriage?
2) How do you handle extended family that refuse to accept the diagnoses (of your child/your spouse) - and continue to blame and lash out at the partner for all problems.
3) What do you do in the case of tactile sensitivities and no interest in sex? How can a spouse handle this?


Re: How do you handle an Aspergers spouse who refuses to accept the diagnosis/ and its impact on the marriage?

Accepting the diagnosis is not all that important really. What is important is that he understands that he has some areas of weakness (as we all do) on his end – regardless of the origin. So the new question could be, “How do you handle a spouse who refuses to see his contribution to the relationship difficulties.”

In that case, you really only have three choices: (1) continue to try to change him (good luck with that one), (2) take more responsibility for the relationship than he does (not recommended), (3) move on.

Re: How do you handle extended family that refuse to accept the diagnoses (of your child/ your spouse) - and continue to blame and lash out at the partner for all problems.

Don’t do the same thing (i.e., don’t blame them for not accepting the diagnosis). The more you try to convince them that it’s the “diagnosis” fault – not yours, the more you will strengthen their conviction that you were (are) the problem.

Let’s say for sake of argument that they ‘came to their senses’ and agreed that “Aspergers traits” have contributed largely to the relationship difficulties. What will they do with that information? If he’s not willing to work on the relationship, that information is rather useless. The Aspergers traits are not really the problem here – rather it is a spouse who is unwilling to work on the relationship.

Re: What do you do in the case of tactile sensitivities/ and no interest in sex? How can a spouse handle this?

To answer the first question, you may be assuming the lack of interest has to do with tactile sensitivities. This is not always the case. Here are some of the reasons men are not interested:

• I am angry at her
• I am depressed
• I am interested in sex with others, but not with my wife
• I am on medication that lowered my libido
• I am too tired
• I am/was having an affair
• I decided I’m gay
• I don't have the time
• I have difficulty achieving orgasm
• I lost interest and I don't know why
• I no longer find her physically attractive
• I prefer to masturbate, but not online
• I prefer to watch pornography online and masturbate
• I suffer from erectile dysfunction
• I suffer from premature ejaculation
• I wasn't interested in sex to begin with
• I'm bored
• She doesn't seem to enjoy sex
• She has gained a significant amount of weight
• She is depressed
• She is/was having an affair
• She isn't sexually adventurous enough for me

So his lack of interest could be any number of things.

Here are some things to consider about sexless marriages (which you may already know):
  • It is often the man who loses his sexual interest – in fact, women complain about sexless marriages far more than men do.
  • Sexless marriage doesn't mean zero sex – it can also mean very infrequent sex.
  • Sexless marriages are very common – it is estimated that in the U.S. alone there are millions of couples who are living in a sexless marriage.
  • Sexless marriages occur for a variety of reasons, and are usually the result of deeper relationship issues between husband and wife.
  • Sexless marriages occur with couples of all ages, not just older couples.
  • This may be common, but it's not something which has to happen – it's up to the couple to make sure it never happens.

Surviving a sexless marriage is very hard. The feelings of rejection are intense and build up over time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like you will be able to “get him in the mood.” (If he were interested in working on the relationship, I would be giving you a bunch of suggestions to “get him interested.”)

So, move on (easier said than done, but you really should move on). Save your time and energy for a relationship worth keeping.

=>  Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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


Anonymous said...

Hi Mark, I am reading your book and find it the most
enlightening material I have read so far.. I am an older
man with Aspergers and unfortunately may be reading
this too late. My wife is about done with me... In any
case, I wanted to say "thank you"


Anonymous said...

The part in your book where you describe the emotions
of a peson with Aspergers was immensely helpful... I have made some changes
and its working amazingly well, my wife is warming up again...

thanks again

Anonymous said...

i'm pretty sure my daughter's father has aspergers. we're not married and never lived together however he is a part of her life. does the book cover verbal abuse during meltdowns? ie. how to best handle them. my daughter's father get's very aggressive (not physically) and explodes over trivialities, makes threats (ie to take you back to court), if i see your family etc. your brother is dead meat (they haven't even done anything to him) but in his mind he thinks they have. he points the finger, blames, puts me, my family down...really bad stuff. i've tried so hard with him and again have given up and will just take a step back and expect nothing from him. just let him see our daughter. i would have loved for us to be a family and live together but it's not possible. alot of things annoy him and are an issue so it's just too hard. he runs his own business and that is his life. he's obsessed with pursuing success, making money and dreams of new business ideas. i wish he'd focus on his family. when he's with our daughter he's 100% present so that's one good thing. during his last meltdown i told him i think he has aspergers. i don't know if he knows he's got it or is just in denial. outwardly he's the macho type so i dont think he'd ever admit it to me...he'd see it as a weakness.

Anonymous said...

"Foster Son" moves in June 1st. He hoards clothes, office supplies, and trash. I have spent the last three weekends in my soon-to-be live-in Aspie's apartment (residential program for college students) cleaning out his apartment and packing. I am not exaggerating when I say that his bedroom floor (10 x 12) was wall to wall ankle deep in fast food wrappers, napkins, straws, soda bottles, dirty clothes, paper, tacks, coins, cookie crumbs, smashed candy, smashed cheetos, computer parts, random electronics, game pieces, CDs, sponges, toothbrushes, tissues, old calendars (unused), etc. There was not an inch of rug not covered in stuff/garbage. He had to tip toe (for months) through his room.

I have NO IDEA why his room wasn't kept cleaner considering he has round-the-clock supervision. It literally look like a tsunami swept in and placed the contents of a landfill on his bedroom floor.

Now, this boy is a hoarder (he's almost 20, really). He lived in my house 1.5 years ago for six months and it was bad, but since he's lived away, it's become much worse. He has more clothing than 4 or 5 women combined! I have told him that he can only live in my house if he keeps his room, bathroom and our common areas clean- basically, he is no longer permitted to live in a trash heap.

I purchased 10 huge storage bins. My plan is to convince him that less stuff in his room will mean it's all easier to keep organized and less dusty (he has allergies, I have an older house- and yes, we have air purifiers/HEPA). I want him to put 50% or 75% of his clothing into these bins and put them in the garage (he won't give them away no matter how stained, torn, ill-fitting, etc).

Because he is a legal adult, he has rights as a consumer of housing services. Some of those rights include access to all his possessions so I can't just dump his crap. I want to use reason (although he's unreasonable about hoarding) to suggest we put at least 1/2 the clothes away and then swap them from dresser/closet to garage and back to dresser/closet then garage every 3 months so he has variety. Even with owning more clothes than all my women friends combined, this guy wears the same stuff day after day. What does he need 12 pairs of jeans for when he only wears his black dockers? But he won't let them go.

He also has about 60 unmatched socks. He won't allow me to match them up (many don't have matches anymore). I have suggested buying all new socks and numbering them (in pairs) so he'll always have a match but he refuses to wear numbers on his socks. He will wear ankle socks with knee highs! He just graps the first two he finds no matter how different they are in size/thickness/color/function. It's very silly.

I am going to do a clothing purge myself when he moves in (I have very little to purge) so he can see what that looks like to sort-choose-keep or let go.

I bought a storage cart with wheels/drawers for his office supplies- lots of drawers stacked and we will label them according to contents. When I did this 1.5 years ago, even this simple system was too much for him to keep clean but we will try again.

Does anyone else have advice? If I don't put 1/2 his things in the garage, he will buried in trash within a week. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Your foster son has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The hoarding and saving compulsions are attempts to reduce profound anxiety. It is my understanding that medications (higher doses of SSRI anti-depressants) do not tend to have a helpful benefit for hoarding behavior. Yet SSRI's can help other OCD symptoms. This foster son inherited his predisposition to OCD. It is found that hoarders may have experienced traumatic losses which may set their predisposition to hoard into action. You need advice from a therapist who specializes in the hoarding behaviors of OCD.
A psychotherapist

Anonymous said...

Hello every one. I am Elliott and 20 years of age. I have aspergers syndrome. Recently I have also been depsressed. I dont have any friends. People call me names and think im strange. People dont understand me because they cant get inside my head. People say to just accept it. I cant. I dont want treatment or management i want a cure. When the doctors told me there is no cure I became more depressed. What do you want me to do then with that information? I dont want nor did I ask for a life of aspergers difficulties. Simply saying there is no cure is not acceptable for me. I refuse to accept any differently.. Does any one understand ?????? How can I make this go away forever???? There must be some where they can cure it. Is it the funding they wont do it ?

Anonymous said...

As a mother of 4 ( 3 of whom have a.s, and I also have it ) I understand how hard it is to deal with, I know you said you don't want treatment but there are some really good ways of dealing with the aspie symptoms, cbt or cognative behavioural therapy is a great tool you should look into, I have done it for many years and have found it very helpful. I know you want a cure, as a lot of people do, but you have to remember aspergers just means we are hard wired a little different, not that we are weird or broken. Have you tried any aspie support groups? Finding like minded people can help ease the socializing problem, I wish there was an easy answer to your problem but there isent, :-( just remember you are not alone there are many like you, you just need to find them xxxxx

Anonymous said...

Elliott, If this is your take on things, I would have to say that the #1 problem is that you have associated with the wrong people in the past. Some people aren't good for you. However, there are a lot of good people out there that will like you for exactly who you are - and who wouldn't want you to change. You job is to go find those individuals !!!

Anonymous said...

My son, 10, is recently diagnosed. He does not want any treatment and refuses to discuss his diagnosis. He hates being different from others, but no amount of wishing will change who he is. I love him as he is, but I want him to learn ways to deal with the non-Aspie world so he can choose when and whether to use those skills. So he is seeing a behavioral therapist and others to help him.

I agree, having the right people around you makes a difference. Best of luck to you. Hang in there. It gets better.

Bridget K. Wood said...

Hate you still out there? I'm a mom of a 21 year old with autism and I understand how hard it can be. My name is Bridget Kenyon wood on Facebook feel free to contact me.

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