Friday, November 26, 2010
It's the holiday season, and for many wives of aspies, the "whoop-de-do" isn't always all that wonderful. There could be turbulence with the in-laws about where to celebrate and when to get together. The NT wife may already be agonizing over gifts. "I have to tell him once again exactly what to get me for a gift because he doesn't have a clue what I like (or even what size I wear-sheesh!)."
When getting ready to spend the holidays with the aspies in the family, prepare more than a clean house, lovely gifts, and scrumptious food. Prepare your heart. Get ready to forgive, forbear, and love. Pray (maybe even fast and pray!), and change your mindset.
Don't think about how difficult it is to connect with them. Don't dread the time you will spend with them. Don't pity yourself for how unappreciated, unnoticed, and unloved you feel.
Instead, focus on loving them. And the kind of love they desire is probably pretty simple. You don't have to ask probing questions or go out of your way to do much of anything, really. They may just like to be together, even if that means sitting in front of the television all day. Stop stressing over feeling you have to carry all the conversations and try to enjoy the quiet. Read a magazine, play with the dog, or give the children your undivided attention (children are sponges for attention!). Help prepare, serve, or clean up the food, but don't wear yourself out doing it (because they won't notice and don't care about that anyway).
If you are the hostess, keep it simple. But most importantly, keep a cheerful spirit. They may not notice the spotless floors or triple layer cheesecake you spent many hours on, but they will notice a bad attitude and unloving disposition. They won't understand that your sour attitude could have anything whatsoever to do with them, so nothing productive can come of it anyway. :)
It's the holiday season. Love your neighbor. Love your enemies. Love your aspies!
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Thank you for reading and for posting all of your encouraging comments!
Monday, November 8, 2010
The dictionary says forbearance is "patient endurance." Mrs. Peace says "A person who is forbearing puts up with the differences as well as mistakes of others and they biblically bear with the sins of others. One should think:
1. How can I help them?
2. I would do this quicker but I can forbear with their slowness and wait.
3. It's their choice to do something that way and it's okay if they do it that way.
She goes on to say that Jesus had to put up with more than we can ever imagine. We should work hard at having unity in our home. We should bear with one another and forgive. Do not judge motives. Be accepting of (non-sinful) differences.
Forbearance also means showing tolerance. "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:1-3
"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." Colossians 3: 12-13
This is a daily struggle and so very difficult. God, help us.
Friday, November 5, 2010
And yes, the test results indicate that he has an auditory processing disorder. I'm not at all surprised. I think he is actually quite shocked. It may take a while to sink in, so I'd better lay low for a while and let him process.
And I gotta say that I love, love, love that he was willing to be tested for me. It means the world to me that he would do that for me. This is another strong proof that he does all that is in his power (when it comes to mind) to show that he loves me.
It has often seemed that he works harder than most people I know, in many areas. The auditory processing test results make me believe this about him at a deeper, stronger level. I think I can be more patient, more compassionate, more kind, and less critical than I have been with his slow processing and communication problems. I hope so, anyway. We shall see.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Some of the symptoms in children (as listed at http://www.capdtest.com/ ):
Frequently misunderstands oral instructions or questions
Delays in responding to oral instructions or questions
Says "Huh" or "What" frequently
Frequently needs repetition of directions or information
Frequently needs requests repetition
Has problems understanding in background noise
Is easily distracted by background noise
May have problems with phonics or discriminating speech sounds
May have poor expressive or receptive language
May have spelling, reading, and other academic problems
May have behavioral problems
It's possible that an adult who refuses to acknowledge autism or asperger's (and refuses to undergo psychological testing) might be open to being tested by an audiologist for an auditory processing disorder. A diagnosis of CAPD could be very helpful in an NT/AS relationship. Mutual understanding and acknowledgement of an underlying medical condition (especially one which could be contributing to communication problems) would be a step forward in a suffering marriage!
Monday, October 11, 2010
It does seem that many Christians with Asperger's Syndrome and High Functioning Autism are drawn to Reformed theology. Reformed theology is logical, rational, and seeks to interpret the Bible with an intellectual approach, explaining what the Bible teaches within an accurate historical context. So it makes sense that when an aspie's interest is theology and religion, he could become obsessed with a branch of theology that has a very logical, rational (and often literal within the context of each text) interpretation of the Scriptures.
But within Reformed theology there is an extreme branch to which many of the most philosophical, logical, and intellectual men are particularly drawn, called Biblical Theology. It is also referred to as the Redemptive-Historical method of interpretation. This group is highly criticized for not applying the Word to the people, or "for not drawing the text into a person's world." Its opponents say it is "too theological and too intellectual for Sunday morning." For the typical man or woman in the pew, a diet of such sermons is a starvation diet as practical application of the Bible to everyday life is ignored.
People with traits of Asperger's Syndrome often have a very different way of understanding human relationships. And in theology, there could be a distinct difference in how the aspie understands both a relationship to God and the Bible's application to one's life. An aspie may thrive under Redemptive Historical teaching as it reaches his intellect like no other theology can. Aspies generally have a gift for being intrinsically motivated when they comprehend a rule or truth, so a person with strong Asperger's traits may be able to make his own sort of application from such teaching. But the typical believer is unhappy when he is unable to clearly understand how what he sees and hears applies to his personal relationship with God, the text, and others. He wants and needs to be taught how the Bible applies to him.
All this to say . . . Neuro-typical women (particularly those who are married to men with autistic traits) should be aware of the potential dangers in Redemptive Historical teaching. You may already be struggling emotionally and feeling very lonely due to autism in your home. It is probable that such preaching, and likely the leadership in such a church, won't help you. Being a member of a church which strongly adheres to "Biblical Theology" may cause a woman in an Asperger's relationship to suffer even more. Find a church with solid doctrine that also includes practical application from the Bible. You need such teaching and guidance in order to grow spiritually. Take care. Make sure you are in a church that can truly nourish your soul!
Thursday, October 7, 2010
I've never thought of myself as a people pleaser, codependent, or one who is easily swayed by peer pressure. But the book When People Are Big and God Is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man by Edward Welch is eye-opening in its discussions of emotions and our relationship to God and man.
One helpful phrase from the book that is worth memorizing is
"Need people less, and love people more."
When I am struggling with my emotions, I reflect on those words and try to change my focus. I should need God more than I need others. I should care more what God thinks about me than what others think of me. And I should be loving toward those who do not love me back (at least in the way I expect that they should).
Sunday, October 3, 2010
This seems to be a recurring theme for me, and I believe it is for many NT aspie's wives. When we are sick and are consequently ignored, all of the anger and bitterness, self-pity and loneliness, pain, and as much as I hate to admit it, what could honestly be labeled in these moments as hatred comes bubbling up to the surface.
I mistakenly thought and hoped that bad stuff in my heart was almost gone. The truth is that I have a long way to go, much to work on in myself, and times of pain, trials, and afflictions bring to light my weaknesses. The great news is that in our weakest moments, when we are at the end of ourselves and have nothing left, we know grace and the power of God to give us strength.
What can the aspie do to help his NT wife when she is ill? Try checking in with her once per hour. Ask if she needs a drink, something to eat, or some medicine. If she needs something, go and get it as quickly as you can and take it to her. Ask her how she is feeling. Tell her "I'm sorry you are sick." If you do these things, she will feel loved. If you don't do these things, she'll feel like you are treating her like dirt and she will probably be very, very angry with you. What you neglect to do can have devastating effects.
What should the NT wife do when she is sick? Drop all expectations that your aspie instinctively knows or even habitually remembers the most basic kindnesses expected when someone is ill. If you can manage to get out of bed, try to take care of yourself as best as you can. Otherwise, ask for water. Ask for medicine. Ask for soup. Pray, especially in your weakest moments, to be loving, kind, patient and forgiving. Remember that his brain doesn't naturally know these things and he is not intending to hurt you!
Learn from the hard times and make an effort to teach your aspie children the unwritten social "rules" so that they grow up knowing what is expected of them in specific scenarios like this.
And a big, big SIGH.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
NT/AS Clue: Wife needs frequent compliments in order to feel loved.
When an NT wife does not receive compliments from her spouse, she may feel like she has no more value to him than a dog or a slave. You can like a dog or a slave, and can even be very kind to and provide well for a dog or a slave. But a wife should know without a doubt that she is higher in her husband's heart than a dog or a slave!
It could make her feel loved, valued, and cherished if her husband would give her at least one compliment each week. It also means a lot when he says something praiseworthy about her to the children, and says something appreciative about her to others as he has the opportunity.
Maybe he could set aside a day of the week to be "Give Wife a Compliment" day. Saturday or Sunday would be ideal (because weekends are hard). And the more abstract and broad, the better. Example "Mmm, good potatoes" is not as complimentary to her character as "You're a good cook." In front of the children it could change to "Mommy is a good cook!" But because abstract words and generalizations may be difficult for the aspie, the NT wife may need to write out a list of compliments she particularly wishes to hear.
2. You are such a kind person.
3. You are a very thoughtful person.
4. You have great organizational skills.
5. You look beautiful!
6. You make our home a lovely place to be.
7. You work so hard for our family.
8. You are a wonderful mother.
10. You have so many strengths which help me.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Time to re-watch it . . . this time thinking a bit more about Eliza's choice. Would I have been happier if I had married "Freddy", the sweet, sentimental sap who sings love songs and brings her flowers every day but doesn't work hard or know how to earn a living? Or do I really prefer the intelligent, successful, quirky, and clueless Professor Higgins? And why? But don't think too hard on it. It's silliness and fun, and a time to laugh, so go enjoy and find the humor in that classic example of the extreme male brain.
Here's a little clip from one of Professor Higgins' songs, "Why Can't a Woman Be More Like a Man?"
What could've possessed her?
I cannot understand the wretch at all.
Women are irrational, that's all there is to that!
There heads are full of cotton, hay, and rags!
They're nothing but exasperating, irritating,
vacillating, calculating, agitating,
Maddening and infuriating hags!
Why can't a woman be more like a man?
Men are so honest, so thoroughly square;
Eternally noble, historic'ly fair;
Who, when you win, will always give your back a pat.
Well, why can't a woman be like that?
Why does ev'ryone do what the others do?
Can't a woman learn to use her head?
Why do they do ev'rything their mothers do?
Why don't they grow up- well, like their father instead?
LOL :) Enjoy!
Friday, September 24, 2010
I don't know! I do know that the roles in marriage were very, very different prior to the feminist revolution. The men made the money and the women took care of the children and the house. The men came home from work and probably sat in their chair, smoked a pipe, and read a book all evening while the women did everything else. He wasn't taking care of the children, and so
she wasn't upset by how he was taking care of the children. He wasn't lifting a finger to help with housework, and she wasn't disappointed by this because it wasn't expected of him. I'm not advocating we go back to these starkly contrasting gender roles, just trying to think through the differences here.
Generations ago, extended families lived nearby. I suspect most women had sisters, aunts, grandmothers, mothers, and in-law females all around them, maybe even in their own home. This provided emotional support and probably much physical help as well. Neighbors and church members were more involved in one another's lives giving encouragement, advice, and setting an example others could visibly observe.
What do we have? We have TV. Television is no help and no real picture of a functional family life either - quite the opposite, in fact. We also have the internet. We have information at our fingertips which can wisely be used to aid our understanding. We have forums and blogs which let us in to others' lives so we know we are not alone. These things can help. But technology isn't enough. So we have counselors who will listen, empathize and give us guidance.
But step back a few generations . . . it is obviously possible to survive without the knowledge of Asperger's we have now. Surely we, too, can manage a difficult marriage without paying a professional counselor. But we do need the support and counsel that is found in relationship with others. We must determine to seek it out and find it! And yes, pay for it if necessary.
Younger women desperately need older women to walk alongside them and show them how it's done, teach them what they've learned, and listen and encourage them along the way. These ladies are out there, and can often be found in the churches. But it's been so long since anyone has asked them for advice, they may be shocked at first if we do. We should do it anyway. Ask them over for tea, or take them out to lunch. Quiz and question and pull out the wisdom they've acquired over the years.
And maybe we should realize it's a fairly new thing for any husband, Asperger's or not, to be expected to fill so very much of his wife's emotional tank. Maybe in large part because we don't have the support of a community of women around us, the poor guy is expected to fill that giant emotional void all by himself.
What do we need? What do aspie's wives, in particular, need? We are emotionally and often physically exhausted. We need housecleaning help, we need babysitting help, we need cooking help (fast food/frozen food works). If it's too much for him to take on, maybe he can work more hours (or deliver pizzas) to pay for this help. Maybe we can barter with other moms for an exchange of time/babysitting/goods/talents. Mostly we need emotional support. And so we MUST regularly meet with other (preferably older) women for emotional support, making sure we are reaching out to them and picking their brains for advice on managing life.
Trying to figure this all out. It shouldn't have to be this hard.
Monday, September 13, 2010
So here's something you guys can do. ASK your wife to write down five practical things you can physically do that would make her happy. It may look like this:
1. Bring me flowers.
2. Give me a compliment.
3. Ask me if I'd like to take a break/nap while you babysit the kids.
4. Give me a massage.
5. Take me on a date. Go to a movie, out to dinner, or once the kids are in bed you can bring home takeout from a nice restaurant, watch a movie, and then do the dishes.
If she won't write a list, then try ALL of these things I've suggested. At least one of them should be "her thing".
Here's the kicker. Try doing at least three things from this list every week. When she revives from the initial shock, you will likely find her warming up to you as she feels happy, cherished, and loved again. These frequent displays of love will help melt away her anger and bitterness. She will know by these varying and physical displays of affection it is better to be with you (weaknesses, frustrations and all) than to be alone.
I recently read of a man whose wife of many years died unexpectedly. He found her journals to be full of pain, frustration, and anger at the way he had treated her their entire marriage. This sent him into a deep depression, with enormous guilt causing him to ask "How could I have been so hurtful and thoughtless to my wife?" Don't be that man, finding those journals, and beating yourself up once it's too late to show love to your wife in a way that communicates love to her in her way.
You say you love her. Go find out what communicates love to her and SHOW HER . . . NOW!
Peter 3:7 "You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered."
Ephesians 5:25-33: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Monday, September 6, 2010
A year into the journey, I now have a list of the top ten most important things to remember during the difficult times. This all presupposes an acceptance that aspergers is a reality in your life (and I believe it to be ordained by God to be a part of my marriage). Here are some practical strategies and vital points to remember, in no particular order.
1. Don't EVER talk to him while emotional (at least not until you learn how to speak his language). Take your emotions elsewhere. (I pray and journal.)
2. If you want something done quickly, do it yourself.
3. If you ever need anything, clearly say exactly what you need. Remember you cannot ask for empathy/understanding or other emotional responses.
4. If you ever want anything (including gifts), ask for exactly what you want.
5. If you want verbal praise or compliments, write a list and ask for him to say something from the list. Ask him to do this on a regular basis.
6. Deal with the anger and bitterness in your heart. Whether you realize it or not, it is there. You probably have anger toward him and at God.
7. Study forgiveness. Learn what it truly means to forgive and to be forgiven. Then forgive daily, 500 times per day, if necessary.
8. Make a list of his strengths. Be thankful and express appreciation for them.
9. Read the list of his strengths and remember why you married him.
10. Show him respect in your tone of voice, in your words to him, and in the way you talk about him to others. Pray to be able to respect him in your heart.
In the beginning of understanding Aspergers Syndrome and how it affects your marriage, the emotions are simply overwhelming. It's nearly impossible to think or to act rationally during this time. I hope these clear-cut steps give you some helpful direction during those "how do I survive" moments. Keep in mind that as you learn more about AS, and learn how to communicate in aspie language, things will get better. It can get better than it is right now. You have to take one day at a time.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
When this happens, especially if the aspie is still in denial that there is anything different about his way of thinking, the NT may question her sanity. This is when positive Aspergers forums are the most help. At www.delphiforums.com under the forum "AS and Relationships That Work" there is a sidebar link called "From Loneliness to Balance". You can there read posts that are likely to mirror exactly what you are feeling. But better than that, you will be encouraged that it can get better.
Drill, drill, drilling this into memory.... I must give up all efforts to show aspie spouse my emotional pain. Unless I can tell him a practical way to help me, there is only more pain to be found in sharing my emotions with him.
But it's okay. This is normal in an NT/AS relationship. Relapses will recur. The great news and hope is that as we learn to communicate better, these relapses will become less and less frequent.
Monday, August 30, 2010
NT shares her heart.
AS either says the wrong thing or nothing at all.
NT gets angry.
AS gets defensive.
ALL OUT WAR.
However, if the NT/AS couple have an agreed on "trigger phrase" that means all communication on that topic must immediately cease, there can be peace.
NT is sad, angry, etc.
AS defensively says "What's wrong? or What did I do now?"
NT feels emotion welling up, but says the trigger phrase instead.
AS recognizes trigger phrase and stops talking (no questioning or following out of the room allowed).
Or it may look like this:
NT is ranting and raving at the aspie.
AS says the trigger phrase.
NT stops talking.
Granted, this is severe and merely a temporary solution, because it does not bring final resolution. But until the new patterns of NT/AS communication can be successfully and rationally employed, the trigger phrase can be used to bring peace ("Cease Fire"). This time allows the NT the ability to "cool down" and be rational and allows the aspie time to let down some defenses that have become his automatic protective measures.
Examples of trigger phrases: "Let's wait." "Let's talk later." "Let's take a break." "Let's stop." Whatever you both agree on can work.
Note: The aspie must understand that the phrase is not to be taken literally. Otherwise he may refuse to use it, because he may not ever want to "talk later" about the topic! :) He must know that it is simply code for "let's stop and both calm down." Sometimes, once emotions are calm, one may realize the issue wasn't that important anyway and it may never need to come up again. If it does need to be discussed later, true progress can be made only while calm and rational anyway. This is a win-win situation.
It is absolutely vital that each partner agrees to take responsibility to both use and adhere to the agreed upon trigger phrase if they ever want to see improvement in their relationship.
We must realize there could be much tension, confusion, depression, or even despair going on internally for the aspie. He may be thinking such things as "What did I do now? Why is she upset about something so trivial? Doesn't she know how hard I am trying? Every attempt I make is unappreciated. Nothing makes her happy. She makes no sense!" He feels attacked. Anger and bitterness take root in his heart. His first response becomes defensive. He may withdraw, retreat, and put up a wall to protect himself. This is his necessary self-preservation as he sees no other alternative that will work.
Walls like this can take a long time to break down. Diagnosis of Aspergers sometimes starts the process. But if he is unwilling to learn anything about AS, it has to start with a "Cease Fire" on the part of the NT.
The NT must realize the hidden pain her aspie spouse feels. She must learn to STOP her emotional outbursts. She must learn not to communicate until and unless she can be calm and rational. But the NT cannot all of a sudden develop super-human self-control over her emotions. And so the aspie must agree to help her learn better self-control over her emotions. This can be done if each partner agrees to use and adhere to a "trigger phrase" that serves as a code word for stopping all further communication on a topic until BOTH of them are calm. Once they are both calm, the conversation can resume.
The time of "Cease Fire" will allow the aspie time to safely come out of hiding and eventually he should be ready and able to learn, with her help, a new pattern of communicating with his NT wife. Be patient, but know there is hope. You will begin to see your aspie soften toward you. He will become less defensive as he feels more safe. And this is real progress. One step at a time.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Christian women, take heart! Proverbs 31, which describes the "virtuous wife" is here describing you.
10 [c] A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
He trusts you to take care of the house, the children, the bills, etc. He trusts you! You bring peace to him and make him feel safe. He is lacking nothing. You are doing great and godly work and it is called "work" for a reason. It is not easy.
Some Christians, particularly those in conservative circles who hold fast to the ideas of headship and submission, may judge you harshly. It sometimes appears to outsiders that the aspie's wife is the "head" of the household due to her many responsibilities. And the aspie's wife may particularly struggle to respect her husband when she falls into the thinking that she is in the role of caretaker, mother, teacher, and doctor to her spouse. She must carefully guard against self-pitying thoughts, always remembering to "see to it that she respect her own husband." This aspergers husband is the one the Lord has given her.
Look again at Proverbs 31 and reflect on this:
12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
This Proverbs 31 woman was praised by her children and her husband.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
Sadly, this highlights a particular sting for the wife of an aspie. She is working, so very hard, to care for her aspergers spouse, and the house, and the children, and her own emotional needs, etc. But he honestly doesn't comprehend how much she is doing and how well she is doing this. He needs to be taught the importance of giving her verbal praise, and he needs to be taught how to give it. That will be the subject of another post.
Ladies, I pray we will each be encouraged and continue doing this good and God-fearing work, as unto the Lord, for His glory.
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
How do aspies understand and express affection and connection?
1. Like-mindedness and agreement is "connection".
2. Being in the same space (same room, even if not talking) is expressing affection. Wanting the person to be in the same space is connection.
3. Physical touch can be his way of expressing affection and connection.
4. Doing things for someone (ex., helping around the house) is expressing affection.
In the movie Adam, the AS man explains what it means when he says he loves the (NT) woman as wanting her with him and needing her to help him. "I'd be lost without you" is an expression of how much value and love is felt by the aspie toward his spouse. We need to understand that this is not a negative thing. The Bible says that God made Eve to be Adam's helpmeet. It was not good for Adam to be alone, and so he made a woman suitable for him. Maybe for wives of aspies, we have a little deeper understanding of what it means to fulfill that helper role to our particular husbands.
I hope Christian wives of aspies will be encouraged that you, with your particular strengths and gifts, were created as a suitable helper for your husband. And even though he may not feel connection as emotionally as you do, that doesn't mean there is not true love there. He probably deeply values you and loves you for the help that you are to him, even if he does not communicate it in the way you desire.
Future post will explore ways to help him learn to express this love in a way that communicates it better to an NT.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
One of my NT expectations that I have had to let go is wanting things done quickly by my aspie spouse. Whether it be answering a question, taking out the garbage, or even chasing the toddler before he runs into the street, you must drop the expectation for the aspie to respond quickly. He probably cannot do it. In his mind, he may think he's responding quickly enough. But it's likely that he is not. So stop expecting him to respond quickly. Definitely stop demanding that he respond quickly. Make it your goal to be okay with the fact that this is something he simply cannot do.
If you want something done right away, just do it yourself. Granted, this is difficult when you have the flu and you've asked for a drink of water. You may need to hire some help or beg friends/family to come by if you're really ill or recovering from surgery. But if your very first instinct when you want something done immediately or even quickly can become to do it yourself, you will be a much happier person in an NT/AS relationship.
Now, don't give up asking him to help altogether. If you want something done right, in many cases (at least in my relationship), it's best to ask your aspie to do it. He will devote much time (hours, days, possibly weeks) to performing the task with excellence. He will pay attention to detail and the job will be done, often to perfection. My husband will follow the pattern of the hardwoods when cleaning the floors, so corners I never hit will be cleaned well! This kind of attention to detail and dedication to excellence takes time. So don't ask for his help if you're not willing for it to take (sometimes a lot) of time.
I admire people who have high intellect and value hard work and loyalty. Discussions of theology are something I can enjoy for hours on end, even when I don't get many words in myself. Humor that involves puns and plays-on-words makes me laugh out loud.
So there. I'm admitting it to you, and most importantly, to myself. I like aspies. I really, really do.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Biblical counsel says "Love always hopes. You can't lose hope!" But what the suffering spouse must understand and the counselor must point out in order to truly help their counselee, is that with autism in the mix, the spouse must change what she hopes for. She cannot hope he will be a Neuro-typical ("normal") person. She cannot hope her relationship will ever look like she always believed it would/should/could. But there is most certainly hope, and this includes hope for better communication between them.
She absolutely can, with a lot of dedication and work, learn the language of Asperger's. It won't ever be instinctual to her, because she is wired with a different first language. But as she begins to learn and conversationally use this new language (which uses English words but applies totally different meanings to many of those words), she will be able to communicate with her aspie spouse in a way she never has before. Finally speaking his native language, she can then (and likely only then) be able to help him learn hers (and thus he will come to learn more about her).
There really, truly is hope for an NT/AS relationship. And this hope includes being able to better communicate with one another.
"Love always hopes." 1 Corinthians 13
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Even though what is being said won't have the same meaning to each of us, that's okay. The words the NT wants to hear are not taken literally by the NT. If verbal expressions of empathy are memorized and applied by the aspie, it can bring peace in our communication with one another.
*NT to Aspie:
When you say "I know that" (when I am sharing my thoughts/feelings with you), it makes me feel angry. It would make me feel calm if you would say the words "I understand."
Optional further explanation:
"I know that" sounds combative and defensive to my brain and "I understand" sounds like caring and empathy to me.
*Disclaimer for this and all future shared clues: These words will not be healing balms for all NT/AS people. But it sure works for me!
Monday, August 23, 2010
When you A , it makes me feel ____B___. It would make me feel ____X__ if you would ____Y_______.
REMEMBER: "Y" must equal a practical, rational thing that can be done by an aspie. It cannot be an abstract thing like "show me empathy, understanding" and the like.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
And as it is The Lord's Day/the Christian Sabbath, I ought to be praying more anyway. I believe I ought not to be thinking about myself at all, but on the things of God, by praying and reading his Word, the Bible.
An Aspie's Wife's Prayer
God, help me to accept what will never change about my Aspie.
Give me the strength to change my NT expectations for our relationship.
And grant me wisdom to understand the ways you have wired us so differently.
These simple truths below, taken from the "First Catechism" for children, should be remembered when we become angry about Asperger's affecting our loved ones:
Who made you? God.
What else did God make? God made all things.
Why did God make you and all things? For his own glory.
God made me. God made him. God made Asperger's. Why did God make me, him, and Asperger's? For his own glory.
To God be the glory.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I've read how important it is to "plant seeds" for an aspie when it comes to major issues that you want to discuss. This means that you make a brief comment about the issue, so he will have time to let it take root for a while. Then you can come back and water it a little at a time--sometimes over the course of a very long time. And this requires much patience.
So I've told my spouse that we need to make a time to discuss the communication patterns in our relationship. When he's had time to digest that bit of information, we will actually get together and talk about it.
One step at a time. This can't be a huge, long, detailed monologue about my emotions and unmet needs. I need to be concise about a single issue at a time.
More details will follow in a future post. I intend to discuss these "nuts and bolts" of navigating the communication battles under the category Specific Scenarios. I glean the most help from the practical applications and shared experiences I learn about from others. They make all the diagnostic criteria come alive and make me truly understand how Aspergers affects me. I hope these posts can help someone else out there. Know that you are not alone!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The grief and barrage of negative emotions is very real and I believe must be worked through. Acknowledging to yourself that you are disappointed but are still committed to the relationship is so important. You can then get to the point where you know certain things will never be a part of your marriage and you can strive to enjoy the good and learn to best deal with the rest.
So all those logical steps we read about for communicating with an aspie begin to be more than just words on a page. It finally makes sense when one embraces that:
1. He speaks a totally different language. He really does! So if you want to communicate with him, learn his language! Maybe he's not attempting to learn yours, but you can still try to learn his. Blogs and forums that share first-hand experience and insights are invaluable helps.
2. He needs for you to love him his way. If you are calm, happy, and not very emotional, you will make him feel safe, secure, and happy. This means that you need to take care of yourself. Find ways to relax. Make sure you have an outlet to chat with other NTs, and learn to be a happy person without relying on him to meet any of your emotional needs.
3. You must avoid the NT communication patterns of long talks about your emotions. Don't keep going on and on, don't get louder, and don't show anger expecting that he will understand you mean business about being really hurt. NTs will "get" that. Your aspie will just be frustrated and he will NOT "get" it. Whenever you start to get upset, STOP talking and don't continue the discussion again until you can be calm, rational, and concise with every sentence.
4. You should be thankful for the way he shows love to you. It may be often overlooked as it is expressed daily, maybe in seemingly small ways. It may never be verbalized. But it is there if you look hard enough. Be thankful and express appreciation.
5. You may find that he brings out the worst in you. The reality is "out of the overflow of our hearts, our mouths speak." The ugliness you are seeing is there and likely has always been there, though previously it may have been hidden to you and others. He may be the instrument God is using to show it to you, so that you can grow and become a better person!
It is vitally important to realize that you have had lots of NT expectations of what makes a good relationship. And now you have to let those expectations go and accept that this is a whole new ballgame. This NT/AS relationship is very different and always will be different from what you've understood relationships to be like. But your relationship with your AS spouse can be rewarding and fulfilling if you are willing to work on yourself (and stop trying to work on him) to make it so.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Some examples from a chart in "The Wife's Sorrow" chapter contrasting our Sinful Actions with Godly Actions:
1. Instead of outbursts of anger, the godly wife should realize her anger will not achieve God's purposes. She should think long and hard about how to biblically answer.
2. Instead of telling herself 'This is more than I can stand,', she should think 'This feels like more than I can stand, but God will help me get through it.' 1 Corinthians 10:13.
There are numerous charts like this in the book and I find them to be extremely helpful. It's comforting to both know I'm not crazy for thinking some of the thoughts listed (and some of them are extreme!), and to be directed toward more godly thinking and responses when I have such thoughts. I hope you find this resource helpful, especially if you are not able to actually meet one-on-one with a godly biblical counselor. This book really is the next best thing!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
The short answer to the why behind that statement is that God hates divorce. Unless there is adultery, abandonment, or abuse involved, the Bible does not allow for divorce. I don't believe emotional neglect is abuse, though I do believe there is a such thing as emotional abuse, evidenced in such things as yelling, swearing, name-calling, and the like. The Bible calls one who divorces without biblical grounds an adulterer.
More practical details are that the children would indeed suffer more from us getting a divorce than they would from our staying together. There are many, many good things in our life and overall we have a happy family. We have security, stability, dedication and loyalty, and more. If you come into our home you will hear loud, joyful laughter more often than not.
Just because deep down "mama ain't happy" doesn't mean "ain't nobody happy." Mama needs to work out her unhappiness, yes. But without God's blessing, mama ain't gonna be happy. Not married, not in an affair, not alone, not anywhere! And God will not bless me in an unbiblical divorce.
My biblical counselor has told me that emotional discouragement is spiritual warfare. The enemy of the Christian faith wants us to dwell in anger, bitterness, and discouragement so that our lives and our families and our witness will be destroyed. We are to fight such feelings with prayer, with faith, with hope, with love, with knowing and using the 'sword of the Spirit', which is the Word of God, the Bible.
It's a battle. It's a daily struggle. I'm in the midst of the batttle, wavering and weak. But I am determined to fight for my family and to fight for my faith. And my faith comforts me with who will eventually (and eternally!) win.
Even when I am most sad and lonely, I can sing with my children because I know it to be true . . . "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The author grants permission to copy this document provided it is for non-commercial purposes, is complete, unaltered and retains this copyright message.
I see people with Asperger's Syndrome (aspies) as cacti, which are soft and vulnerable inside - but very soon in life they develop very cruel prickles to protect themselves from painful contacts with neurotypicals (NTs). Aspies belong in the desert. They are happy there. Occasionally they bloom - and it is so wonderful they light up the whole desert - but it is short-lived. Being natives of the desert they have the ability to withstand long periods of drought. When water is available they absorb it quickly and store it in their fleshy stems for times of need.
Cacti have a right to be cacti, and to live in the desert, and to have prickles.
I see neurotypicals as roses. The roots of roses must not be allowed to dry out. They need to be in a rose garden where they can constantly connect with other roses and be watered, fed and mulched. They need to be protected from the fierce heat of the desert and from shredding desert sandstorms. Most roses do not survive in the desert. The ones that do mostly become stunted, lose their flowers, develop larger ugly thorns, move into denial and often need medication. Medicated roses no longer see the harshness of the desert.
When the rose begins to wilt and tries to explain to the cactus that it needs rose food, the cactus will look out from the comfort of its stored reserves and ignore the rose. This is a form of passive aggression. As the roses's needs become desperate and the rose becomes increasingly demanding, the cactus can escalate to mental and emotional abuse in his lack of understanding of the rose's needs. The cactus does not mind if others are present - adding public humiliation to his abuse of the rose. When the pain of deprivation takes the rose beyond the boundaries of caution and reason, the cactus may escalate to door-slamming and physical abuse. The abused, starving rose retreats and grows a little more stunted and ugly.
Aspies do not understand that roses need rose food (emotional connection, tender loving care, appreciation, communication, time out for chatting complete with an emotional component, understanding, romance, etc.) Cactus food cannot nourish, or even sustain, a rose.
Aspies can only provide cactus food. When the rose begins to wilt and tries to explain that it needs rose food, the cactus will not understand and may call the rose "selfish" and "ungrateful". In the desert, with a prickly cactus, is a scary place for a rose to be. The rose will be deprived of intimate emotional connection, communication and love. Home-making will become a nightmare, because the cactus in his desert environment has no need for all the finishing touches that a rose would consider essential in her rose garden.
If a rose tries to bloom in the desert, the petals will be shredded by the merciless onslaught of the most ferocious desert sandstorms. In the process of desperately trying to provide myself with some mulch, water and food, I have mapped out a basic survival plan for a rose living in the desert with a cactus.
Survival plan for roses
When I have any sort of a petal on my rose at all that has not been shredded in a recent sandstorm, I try to apply myself to encouraging and acknowledging the strengths in my aspie cactus.
The soft, vulnerable part of the aspie is very receptive to praise and compliments and appreciation (like we all are, but I have found them to be more so). He has many good points. The problem is that the cruel sandstorms and the empty spareness of the desert have so stunted and shredded the rose that is me, that mostly I cannot even enjoy the good points. Nevertheless, I have found that encouragement and appreciation cause him to bloom in a very special way.
2. Quick forgiveness
There will be no remorse or apologies on the part of the cactus, because it only sees that it has been unfairly attacked and that the rose is ungrateful and too demanding. Eventually the rose has to find a way to forgive and keep going. This is survival because bitterness only hurts the rose and the cactus won't notice whether the rose is bitter or not.
3. A whole-body exerciser
Some means of exhausting the physical body is pretty much an essential first-aid emergency treatment for the larger, cruel, shredding, searing desert sandstorms. The clue is to stay with the exercise until the tears come. This is exhausting but healing and needs to be followed by step four.
4. A good book and a video
Roses need these as a first-aid measure to take the mind and emotions out of the desert and back into some sort of rose-garden environment.
5. Good friends.
Understanding friends are the remedy for the loneliness and the isolation of the desert. The problem is, to have a good friend you have to be a good friend. That is a very difficult thing to do for a stunted, shredded rose who is unwell through humiliation and lack of rose food. Internet support groups like FAAAS can be life preserving and a privilege at times like this.
6. Telephone counseling services that run 24 hours a day.
These are valuable for the desperate loneliness that hits around midnight and after. Just to hear another voice that is caring, accepting and non-judgmental does wonders.
7. Rose food
Roses have to supply their own. This is difficult when the cactus controls the budget and sees rose food as wasteful and extravagant. Gardening, reading, writing, painting, knitting, crocheting and loving chats with neighbours can often be invisibly worked into a desert budget.
A cactus can be asleep within minutes of a desert sandstorm. A rose, however, will be hurting and desperate and may need to work through points three and four above.
The cactus is in the desert and easily survives the sandstorms. The rose cannot survive the shredding without lots of insight and protective measures on hand. Even then it is tough going!
Cacti have areas of brilliance that become their obsessions. Common obsessions are computers, technology, engineering and religion. Sometimes a male aspie will turn his obsessive interests towards a female neurotypical.
A cactus in full bloom is magnificent and very difficult for a rose to resist. At this early stage of the relationship the rose has not experienced, or been shredded by, the desert sandstorms - and has not been stunted by the emptiness and lack of nurture and food. The early cactus bloom stage may last some time (particularly if there are no children and the rose is financially independent).
However, the rose is now in the desert - and the desert does not sustain it. The wilt is inevitable. I am sorry to have to say it.
Many of the neurotypical women most likely to end up married to aspies had aspie fathers so the awful feelings of abuse and loneliness seem normal to them and almost comfortable because these feelings are so familiar.
To a neurotypical, an aspie may seem emotionally disabled. Many people marry severely disabled people (such as quadriplegics) and with a lot of support and help manage to live reasonable lives. The difference here is that the quadriplegic knows he has the disability. Aspies mostly do not recognize their disability and mostly they judge the emotional interactions of neurotypical people as weakness and lack of self-discipline. Also, as you push around the quadriplegic's wheelchair people generally will make way for you, support you, even probably smile and affirm that you are doing a good job.
When a rose marries a cactus, the rose may come to feel that she is pushing an invisible wheelchair -on her own- without support and without help. People cannot "see" an invisible wheelchair, so the rose often may feel uncomfortable, even humiliated, when out in public with the cactus. In addition to this there may be a strong chance that offspring from this marriage could also be cacti. From the rose's perception - this amounts to more invisible wheelchairs.
Raising baby cacti
It is my opinion that young aspie cacti need people of insight to go in to bat for them. They need a kindly advocate. They are soft and vulnerable and do not yet have their protective prickles established.
I believe that whenever possible the young aspie's obsessions or "special interests" (and they may change as they get older) need to be nurtured and supported. These special interests are often computing, engineering, mathematics and science.
If the young aspie can be led into earning a living from his area of "special interest", I believe he will be content and functional in his world as an adult.
It is my belief however, from observation and experience, that this state of contentment and stability will be completely destroyed if he chooses to marry a neurotypical.
I believe the different brain patterns in people with Asperger's Syndrome do not allow for functional social interaction except on a very surface, factual level. I believe the aspie can be trained to say the right things at the right time, but have found that does not supply the emotional connection that is necessary for intimate relationships with neurotypicals.
Baby roses in the desert
Perhaps two cacti may exist happily together in the desert. However, think of the consequences of two cacti producing a baby rose. The baby rose, without any intention or effort from the cacti, would be subject to emotional deprivation and would be shredded in the desert. It is likely it would grow up stunted, without flowers and with very large thorns. Then it would look more like a cactus than a rose and would not fit into, or be accepted by, the rose garden.
Ultimately, the stunted, cactus-like rose would probably attract to itself another cactus rather than a rose. Unwittingly, then the rose would place itself in a marriage where all the pain, and more, of the rose's childhood would be revisited.
I wonder how many roses that are married to a cactus were in fact brought up by at least one cactus parent?
Roses and Cacti @ Copyright 2000 Marguerite Long
This revised edition of Roses and Cacti @ Copyright 2003
Marguerite Long, Email author firstname.lastname@example.org
The author grants permission to copy this document provided it is for non-commercial purposes, is complete, unaltered and retains this copyright message.
It has been a hard week. Since my husband doesn't know what to do to cheer me up (and doesn't see that I need cheering up in the first place), I sent him an email grocery list with only one item on it: "pretty flowers for the wife."
That evening when he walked in the door, he was grinning ear to ear. He proudly handed me a bunch of wilted, decaying roses. I cheerfully smiled and said 'thank you.'
And then I spent the next several minutes peeling off layers of ugly, wilted petals in search of some sort of loveliness underneath.
The symbolism astounds me.
I am a wilted rose in this asperger marriage. And my aspie husband doesn't even see it. And there are layers of ugliness in our marriage. But if I work hard enough and put in lots of extra effort, I can find some loveliness buried down deep.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Recently during her speech therapy they worked on the meanings of several different expressions. And I am very thankful that our insurance is covering the sessions now (her doctor filled out a 'medical necessity' form).
Thursday, April 15, 2010
"Even at the most painful moments, try to detach and see the 'Asperger Moment' for what it is -- a statement of fact, not emotion."
from the 2009 book Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going over the Edge? Practical Steps to Saving You and Your Relationship by Kathy J. Marshack, Ph.D.
Monday, April 12, 2010
+Detachment is reality. There won't be an emotional connection in the marriage and the NT has to accept that. You won't get many compliments or much praise or appreciation. Your emotional state will not be comprehended and your needs will not be understood unless you explicity state them. He doesn't have those abilities and you cannot change him!
+You may find yourself making excuses to "cover" for your spouse's inabilities. (I believe it's best to only say things that are edifying about others. But this is a real challenge with certain AS situations. I aim to pray for wisdom and be 'slow to speak'.)
+You can love him even when he is "cold". Know that he does love you. He does care. He is just "cold". That's the way God made him. Be thankful for the ways he does show love (ex., providing for the family).
+Everything happens for a reason. Don't feel sorry for yourself or your children. You (and your children) can grow in wisdom and strength through the challenges that come from having autism in the family.
The book faces reality and yet is encouraging at the same time. Ouch, and yay.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
This easy read is filled with real-life examples, true stories, and helpful, positive suggestions for handling difficult situations. How nice to find something encouraging to read about life with aspies!
Monday, February 15, 2010
The book is called "Thriving Despite a Difficult Marriage" and is written by two Christian psychologist brothers named Misja. I cannot recommend it strongly enough for anyone struggling in a difficult marriage.
Just a few of the excellent points the authors make are listed here:
* Understand what your spouse is unable to give. He cannot give what he doesn't have.
* He may also be limited in what he is able to receive from you.
* Suffering due to a spouse with limitations is real but of a different nature than pain felt from a rejecting or dangerous mate.
* Many 'limited' spouses have paid the price for their lack of ability by having to hear accusations of being uncaring, irresponsible, or selfish.
*Recognizing and accepting these deficits is crucial to a healthy marriage.
* Allow your heart to have no criticism, no tolerance for anger or bitterness, no negative talk about spouse, no using the kids, no whining.
* Give up all efforts to show your spouse your pain.
* Give up all efforts to change your spouse.
* Do not interpret spouse's actions negatively.
* Practice forgiveness as a way of life.
* Keep your heart alive.
* Don't draw attention to what doesn't happen in your marriage. Instead, figure out areas where you can connect well and enjoy those times as you embrace what is possible.
* Refuse to make him pay for not being able to engage and connect in other areas.
These are just a few points the authors expound on throughout the book. I hope you find it as helpful as I have!