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How Do I Handle Marriage To A Spouse With Asperger Syndrome?
How do I handle marriage to a spouse with Asperger Syndrome?
Lisa Jo Rudy
Question: How Do I Handle Marriage to a Spouse with Asperger Syndrome?
My husband was recently diagnosed as having Asperger syndrome, a high functioning type of autism. He graduated from an Ivy League school, but his self-absorption, social awkwardness and rigid behaviours have affected our marriage with devastating emotional impact. Is there hope for improvement?
Answer: From Dr, Bob Naseef:
If there is one word that describes the reaction of a family member to the diagnosis of autism in someone you love, that word is loneliness. That's what I hear in your question. Rest assured that you are not alone in having this response. There is help for your husband as well as yourself. Now that autism is more widely recognized, adults as well as children, who may have not been identified as autistic in the past, are being diagnosed. This is particularly true for high functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger Sydrome (AS).
There is even a web site devoted to the issues faced by spouses and partners at Asperger Syndrome Partners and Individuals Resources, Encouragement & Support . There are numerous helpful articles archived there. There is also an e-mail subscription list for individuals with AS, and those who have a parent, spouse, or child with AS. Family and relational experiences, resources, survival tips, encouragement, and hope are offered there.
It is through this kind of sharing that many people help each other lighten the burdens of living and find coping strategies and solutions for many issues in relationships. Certainly it is not easy to bridge the communication gap that exists in the everyday life which you describe. Being simultaneously relieved and trapped is a treacherous dilemma. Usually with more information comes hope, so I would suggest you begin to learn more about Asperger syndrome. There are numerous books and websites. One good medical site to start at would be the PENN Social Learning Disorders Program . There you will see your husband's condition described as a social learning disorder which is a helpful way to look at his differences and the challenges that face both of you.
It is also important to look at the history of your relationship. You must have had good times together and shared positive feelings about each other. Try to recapture whatever glimmers of that you can of what brought you together. You may benefit from consultation with a mental health professional who is experienced in helping people in your kind of situation. Even if your husband won't go with you, you may gain some insight into the relationship that will help you regain some hope, and possibly change the chemistry of what is happening right now in your relationship.
From Dr. Cindy Ariel:
It is often both a major relief and a major disappointment to be diagnosed or married to someone who is diagnosed on the autism spectrum as an adult. Your hopes may b...