Wife with a Aspi husband - This is SO hard!!

Hi all,

I'm very new to this group, I literally just and this is my first post.

When I first married my husband I had no idea he had Asperger’s but I knew something was a-miss with him, I just figured we could eventually work it out. Now I’m 11 years into this marriage, we have kids and it seems to be getting worse instead of better.  It was my mother-in-law who is my husband’s step mother that told me that he has Asperger’s. She said he was diagnosed in HS but his father never told him that he was an Aspi. Consequently he doesn’t believe anything is wrong on his part and as far as I know he has never bothered to look into what Asperger’s is.

He has all the classic symptoms: Can’t give eye contact, emotionally immature, any criticism, concern or correction turns into a battle as if he was being attacked by an army of dragons out to take his life and I’m the queen leader of the dragons. We can’t communicate normally about anything…ever! He keeps information from me, big stuff and minor stuff, all of it. It gets in the way of raising our children, finances, everything, right down to the groceries!!  There is no intimate conversation between a husband and wife, no hugs unless instigated by me and even then it feels empty. No conflict resolution or discussion after the air settles from a fight which can take days or weeks just for the air to settle. We can’t go to a traditional marriage therapist who doesn’t understand the dynamic in a AS/NT relationship and I can’t seem to find one that specializes in it.

I’m at my wits end and don’t know where to turn for help. I’m not interested in walking out the door and blowing my family up because I’m angry or sad. I don’t believe in making life altering decisions in the height of an emotional outburst.  I know that I haven’t looked hard enough for help, which is what brought me to this site in the first place. I wish I could find a support group that I can go to physically as well as online but can’t seem to find any in the Phoenix area. But again, maybe I’m not looking hard enough.

I just need some input and help because I don’t know how to navigate these waters. I need other women and men who are in the same position to give me some insight. I need other Aspi’s to teach me how to get out of this place of stuck with my Aspi husband. I don’t need or want negative input, I have enough of that in my head already and certainly don’t need someone else’s negative input to fill more space. It’s heavy and it doesn’t feel good. So please, if you have something constructive to say, teach or a similar situation, I’m all ears and desperately seeking a marriage that has the potential of moving powerfully forward.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I’m grateful to have found this site as I have been asking the universe for help in a big way.

  • "... he doesn’t believe anything is wrong on his part ..."

    This is step one to really keeping progress from happening. Also, you said you went into this with the hope that you could 'work this out' but it sounds like maybe you're expecting more of him than he is actually able to give you.

    Every autistic person is different. We may have a few things in common, but that's just a small part of who we are, and it sounds like you're hung up on deficits. That killed my other relationships - that and expecting me to be a different person.

    How have you been trying to broach the subject? Because if I were him I'd shut down as it feels like another criticism, correction, expectation I have yet to be able to meet and therefore can't handle. That would be a first place to look, if he doesn't know or want to believe he is autistic. In fact, you don't even have to have his cooperation to make changes that help. Maybe if you entered the conversation differently, or made small changes in your expectations, things will ease up a bit, and he'd be more receptive.

    I'm not being negative, I'm just finding a lot of negative in this post. I don't even know anything else about him but what is 'wrong' with him. Something must have been right or interesting or worthwhile when you got married. It's possible increasing adult stress has a lot to do with your perception of worsening symptoms - and expectations he feels he can't meet.

  • In reply to Lauren Gilbert:

    Also, hiding things from you is a big problem. It probably is his way of avoiding confrontation. It's counterproductive, obviously, but hopefully with some work the two of you can communicate in a way that feels safer to him so that he's more comfortable telling you things.
  • In reply to Lauren Gilbert:

    Well, it's not just me. I've talked to the few friends he has who has known him since kindergarten and they basically say the same thing in that he doesn't share much with them either. He only engages in what's comfortable which is sports and music.
  • In reply to Lauren Gilbert:

    Your finding negative in this post because I'm airing the issues that I'm seeking thoughts on. And yes I was expecting more from him when we married, I was expecting growth, open communication, a deeper connection through spending years together. I was expecting a marriage with a husband not a roommate, and that's exactly what we are...roommates living 2 separate lives with children in common. His first wife literally left him when he was at work. She took the day off, packed up a U-Haul and drove it clear across the country, then changed her name so he could never find her again. I know exactly why she did that now, although I was dumbfounded about it when we first got together, I couldn't believe anybody would do that!! Now I totally understand why she did. Sometimes I feel like doing the same, but at the end of the day he's a sweet man and a great dad and I'm going to do whatever I can to figure out how to stay in this marriage.
  • In reply to Carol Horton:

    Wow. Well. I sure hope you find the help you need. I don't think anyone is going to help you to your satisfaction, though.

    Good luck.
  • In reply to Lauren Gilbert:

    As an Aspie husband, I didn't notice that my first wife left me as she was going through the beginning stages of schizophrenia. I, too, battled severe depression and was clueless as to how to be the supportive and loving husband I should have been. I am now married to someone who loves me, Aspie and all. Many times we exist as roommates. We are rarely intimate, but it doesn't stop us from being best friends and supporting one another in our ministries. But when discouragement strikes, I do my best to draw strength from God. I know not everyone is a Christian, or even believes in God or the Bible, but He gave me literally a new life when I was ready to give up. Anyhow, best of luck to you in all things. - Mark
  • Hi Carol.

    I wish I could tell you that every situation works out, and while my first marriage failed spectacularly on both ends, I am very fortunate to have a wife that is not co-dependent (most people who are co-dependent don't actually realize that they are). We can be in the same room for hours and barely speak to one another while doing separate things. But the Aspie in me is happy that she is around in case I need to talk about things. For me, it is more important that I have a best friend after 10 years of marriage than a spouse. Are there any activities that he enjoys that you can do together (board/card games, take a college course or a cooking class) or are you willing to help him find a new experience that can expand his social horizons (church, model building club)?

    Anyway, good luck with trying to reconcile. I know this may sound unusual, but try a Christian counselor, even if you don't do the church thing. Or let him go to a counselor once or twice by himself, then you, and then meet together. Also, are you sure that there aren't any other underlying psychological factors that are hindering his ability to be a successful Aspie (depression, repressed anger, regrets, family issues when he grew up)? I can tell you from personal experience that I languished for years because I didn't fit in with my family. I have recently broken ties with them (I hope that isn't the case with him), but if it helps you to move on and thrive, then so be it.

    Blessings to you and your husband - Mark
  • In reply to Legoking6399:

    Thank you Mark, I appreciate your response immensely as it does help. I have much the same dynamic as you do in my marriage in many ways. Thankfully I am far from co-dependent and have no problem with the fact that I can be in my home office all day while my husband is in his and never exchange a word the entire day. I completely see the gifts in my marriage that most women don't really get to enjoy. I do what I need and want, when I want, no questions asked, as long as we collectively have the kids in check we are both good with that. I have my own thriving business and I am usually very busy with that. I travel around the world regularly for business and none of it is ever an issue. We don't sleep in the same room as he is very sensitive to noise and I am a restless sleeper and I'm, for the most part, good with that too. The difference in my relationship with my husband verses yours is that there is a complete lack of communication, I'm not really sure if he considers me a friend, let alone a wife. Yes he does have issues around depression and repressed anger. To put it in a nutshell his mother died when he was 9, father never told the kids that mom had cancer, she went into the hospital, they were never able to visit, dad thought it was inappropriate, she died and it was the neighbor that told him that his mother was dead!! He has never told me story, I know this from his 4 cousins that were there at the time and also his step mother. We have a 9 year old together, I can't even imagine how my son could wrap his head around that. There is a lot of suppressed issues there obviously but he won't talk to anyone about it and I certainly can't suggest it without world war 3 breaking out! He went to a Catholic HS and had religion shoved down his throat so a Christian therapist is not an option. What we definitely do well together is travel when we get a chance but that's far and few between. Although I have to be in Columbia in 2 weeks and we have asked his step mother to watch our 9 year old so he come with me on this trip. Outside of that his only other pleasure is the computer and working out which we never do together. He has his PhD and teaches animation on a college level, when he gets home he is forever working on some new game that he's creating as an app. I have told him that we need marriage counseling and he has finally agreed to do that so I've been researching AS/NT relationship counseling and finally found a therapist in our area. He has no idea about it yet, I'm going alone to see her first, I want to make sure she is a fit for us before dragging him with me. I do want you to know that your comments about your daily life with your wife is very helpful, I don't feel like I'm so alone in this!! I would love to hear about what makes you feel like you have to be combative or when you jump into a defense mode when talking to your wife. What's your trigger? I know this is an Aspi thing and I'm obviously doing something wrong that my husband immediately jumps into a defensive mode over any given conversation. This only happens with my husband, not ever with my 2 kids, and one of my boys is a 17 year old. We have an unusually close relationship that most mothers don't have with any teenager, he knows he can express openly with me about anything at any time and does so regularly. Would love to hear your thoughts on what triggers you. Thank you for reading Mark, I appreciate you!
  • In reply to Carol Horton:

    Have you tried taking your communications online or in writing?
  • In reply to Theodore M. Seeber:

    Not sure what you mean by that Ted. I am communicating online through this site. Can you please be more specific cause I'm obviously missing your point and a possible avenue I haven't explored!
  • In reply to Carol Horton:

    Many aspies find it easier, when in defensive mode, to communicate asynchronously rather than synchronously. Using e-mail or even old fashioned notes may open up a line of communication that could revitalize your marriage. Doing this avoids verbal tone of voice, body language, and processing delays, all of which can hinder communications when an aspie is in defensive mode.
  • i am the same as your husband, but less dramatic, and i'm aware of my issues but nothing really fixes them, i am not able to give affection, but i like affection, i don't argue much because in an attempt to fix part of whats wrong, i no longer control anything or any aspect of my life really, i do not drive, or work, or do much of anything. this helped some of the fighting, but it causes depression for me, i cope best i can, i'm not intimate at all, i really don't know why, it makes me feel a lot of anxiety and makes sex not work, i've been married for 16 years (i'm only 35 though)

    I know this will sound inappropriate, but nothing will likely change your husband much, maybe after awhile he could fix small things, but from my own experiences, a lot wont change, even if you manage to get past the denial stage (half the time most wives don't even get that far) he's lived this way for however old he is now, the inappropriate part i was talking about is honestly, you only have a few options, leave, and try and deal with all that stuff, stay and be unhappy prolly forever, or stay and get the usual things wives need from someone else without telling him your doing it.

    some of the replies are sort of helpful but as a person , a man with autism (bad enough i am on disability for it now) dealing with us is a huge drain on normal people, we don't like it to be, most of us can see what is wrong, but we are unable to change it, because the parts that need to be changed are "us" ...like the deep down parts of being an individual human being, it would be like asking a typical Caucasian person to "become" an African American, they can act like one sure, but they couldn't actually be one. (i just used that analogy because i can't think of anything different i meant no disrespect)anyways, you can keep trying, but you will never be satisfied, or truly happy. most likely you will have to really sit down and decide how much you are willing to deal with and how much unhappiness is worse, staying or leaving. leaving will make you unhappy, but not nearly as long as staying will in my opinion (based on the info you've supplied anyways, i'm just giving an opinion, i could never know how you feel or what your really dealing with) change for us is very difficult, not as if it's "just" we do not like change it annoys us, but it hurts us, it causes anxiety, and irritability, emotional distress, sometimes it can be coped with and other times it breaks us.
  • In reply to Carol Horton:

    Ted means try writing him a letter, or e-mailing him how you feel, i text my wife on kik a lot, it does help some of the time, but honestly my wife is not a typical, "typical" woman, she's very patient
  • In reply to Carol Horton:

    Sorry that it has taken me some time to get back to you. Trying to see what in here you can do to grow a relationship that has languished. I still start, whether with children or adults, by trying to see whether the other person is affected positively by your taking an interest in their personal lives (I have done this as a teacher and a tutor in the past). Depending on the specific symptoms on his Asperger's and his psyche, he might be proud of his condition or not even acknowledge that it exists. I would personally love to see mobile platforms for Aspie gamers (social or hardcore) where a character can be created and learn to thrive in a variety of settings (school, work, supermarket). As much as I would prefer to be who I really am 100% of the time, I know for various reasons that it is not a good idea. Perhaps he might find it refreshing that you took an interest in his character development with animation and where he plans to go with it to impact the lives of others. Also, try to take pleasure in the small victories and increase those odds for yourself when possible. If you can even add a day trip by car each month (destination doesn't matter) where you know he feels comfortable he may feel more likely to open up. A big trigger for me is not feeling useful to people. Another one (which makes me break out even at work) is when I can't fix a problem, which in turn makes me feel useless. The tiniest of mistakes are absolutely tragic for me; I have no filter for sweating the small stuff. There are certain triggers that don't have to be my wife's fault but she's the only one that I can vent to. You will have to gauge if he's upset at you or just upset because he has no one to confide in otherwise. Normals (non-Aspies) sometimes take too much of the blame, and undeservedly so, because we don't want to heap more stuff on an Aspie than we think they can handle. Even relationship is different. As for seeing a therapist, I think it is perfectly appropriate for you to see someone on your own for a while, try CBT methods with/for your spouse, get feedback, refine as necessary, then see if the couples therapy is still warranted. I know I felt like damaged goods for having to see a therapist periodically throughout my life, so perhaps that may be an opportunity to let him feel that he can effect change in the relationship, even though you would be the one who holds the cards.

    Personally I think text and stuff is even worse because unless he has a filter (which is hard for Aspies), his comments can inflame an already tense situation. He may not be the journaling type, but if he can find a safe-zone activity, he should try it. I started writing my book in spite of not being a reader because I needed an outlet for my anger and sadness. God turned it into something inspiring; a ministry that can touch others. Can he relate to others like him (even other Aspies)? If support groups aren't nearby or he isn't interested, I'd be willing to talk to him sometime, just so that he knows that he isn't alone. High-functioning Aspie adults are left out mainly because people just think we are weird instead of necessarily having something organically at odds in our psychological/brain makeup.

    Anyway, these were but a few more ramblings. Don't give up on him, but also don't blame yourself. You can't fix who someone is, but you can help them modify their behaviors. Sinners don't realize they have sinned until you have pointed it out to them. Similarly, Aspies with behavioral issues may not even realize that a number of them are indeed wrong. But if a quirk is not harmful to oneself or someone else, then it should be appreciated.

    Have a good weekend, and have peace where you can.
    -Mark
  • I'm in a similar situation as your husband. My wife and I have been married for 17 years. We have two children (10 and 11). I am a college professor and have a PhD. I also have Aspergers. My wife had a professional career prior to having our children. She now stays home and homeschools them. My son is autistic.

    My wife and I finished counseling a little over a year ago. I would recommend finding a counselor that has experience with adults with autism, if possible and one that normally works with professionals. I would also recommend that your husband see the counselor before you do. I saw our counselor for several months before my wife was invited to join us. This helped me feel like they weren't going to gang up on me.

    My wife is very extroverted and needs to “talk things out” to reduce her stress. Unfortunately, talking things out makes me very anxious (due to conflict or the constant potential for conflict) and that creates distance between us. Unlike your husband, I am probably more physically affectionate than she is and wishes she would be more affectionate with me.

    The other day we had a discussion and she told me that it helped her understand better. Here's what I told her: I get anxious under situations that are likely to end in conflict (arguing) and/or situations when my senses get overloaded (crowds, noise, people demanding and questioning me). When I feel anxious, I come off as being annoyed or angry because my flight or fight response has kicked in. This next part is important: while I do take anti-anxiety medication, I cannot control being anxious moment-by-moment. I am not choosing to be anxious. If I could choose whether or not to be anxious, I would never be anxious. I generally try to shut down rather than lashing out, but I have to do something to end the situation. I cannot change my Aspergers or my resulting anxiety, your husband can't either. Just because I'm anxious, doesn't mean that I'm angry at anyone. I recognize my anxiety.

    Our counselor recommended that when we have discussions that are going down a road of conflict, to step away from the discussion and give each other some space, but to schedule a time to resolve our conflict. This has worked well for us.