Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Is This So Hard?

There is nothing new under the sun.  I suspect Asperger's has been around for several thousand years.  Women have struggled to understand their husbands, to respect them, and to put up with their idiosyncrasies for many generations.  Our ancestors have been where we are.  But we have much more information and understanding (certainly about Asperger's) than our foremothers had even one generation ago.  So why is this so hard?

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.


  1. Hi there! I am so glad my online searching led me to your blog! I'm a Christian conservative as well, also married to a man with asperger's. I can sympathize TOTALLY with you. I've had many of the same thoughts. I think that it may be harder today, because in times past women were perhaps expected more to do everything we do, without a lot of support. Nowdays, many men are supposedly "more in touch with their feminine side" - not my husband, and probably not yours either! I am "here," and thanks for the courage to speak out. I have a blog also, but have not mentioned my husband's aspergers there (his relatives read, and none of them know/suspect a thing about Aspergers - it's something I have found out about from my own reading).
    Praying for you and your family. Virtual (hugs) as well! You are not alone!

  2. Thank you for this blog... I've just finished reading every post and it has blessed my day. I too am a Christian woman married to an Aspie, seeking the Lord's direction in our lives, looking for hope, relying on grace!

    I've been in tears for days and so much of the info on NT/AS relationships is devastatingly negative. Divorce is not an option for us, either. It was wonderful to find your blog and know that someone else understands and struggles with the same types of feelings and questions.

    God bless you sweet sister!

  3. Thank you for your comment! It helps me so much to know there are other Christian women who truly understand and "get" what this particular struggle is like. Thank you, ladies, for the reminder that I am really not alone (and I'm not crazy, either--this is real!). :)

  4. Dear Aspmom, thank you for creating your blog. I too am a mother of a son with Asperger's (8) and after diving into the research of the syndrome on my son's behalf I realized it affects my husband as well. I also see the traits in his brothers, daughter, and father in retrospect. When I first came to this epiphany (it clicked in the middle of the night) it was very devastating much like you describe. Now I am trying to figure out if there can ever be peace between us (If I can change my very being). I am very emotionally sensitive and I think the attraction was formed based on me having the emotional component he has always lacked, but after years of feeling emotionally disconnected it has taken a toll. I am a stay-home-mom and take care of all things home as my role and he works. Anyways I have read through your whole blog and you have a different take on things as compared to most of what I've read about Aspies and NT's in relationships which mostly paints the suffering of the NT, it is good to see a woman who is trying to work-through the inherent issues and I am embarking on the same path. If there are any books out there that you know of that teach how to not be so driven by your emotions I would be interested to find them. Anyways just reading about another wife's perspective helps a lot. :)

  5. Hi Cheryl! Thanks for your comment!

    When I asked a nouthetic counselor about the Cassandra Syndrome and the NT wife's dealing with her emotions, she directed me to the book "When People Are Big and God is Small" by Edward T. Welch. It is intellectual and I had to focus harder than I wanted to to read it :) but the last few chapters have some good practical advice. They deal with "examining your felt needs, knowing your real needs, delighting in God, and loving your enemies." Once I dug into it, I found it helpful.

  6. My husband (31 y.o.) was diagnosed Wednesday with AS, and all I ever knew was that a cousin of his had it and that it had some relation to Autism. When we began researching, I noticed that so many of the signs apply to his life. We had always attributed certain personality traits to other situations in his life that would make him shy away from people. However, it is obvious to us now, that this has been a condition he's had for his entire life, and being undiagnosed, he has had a difficult road without the ability to truly understand. He is the one who came across this and has put most of this together. One main difference in your family and mine is that he does accept his diagnosis and is relieved to know that there is a reason for his behavior and thoughts. Now we just have to learn how to cope with our differences and work to train our emotions or actions to work together. Obviously this is all still very new to us, after 3 days of research.

    I have to say I was amazed when I found your blog on Wednesday, and have tried to read all of your posts. It was such an encouragement just to see that you have this blog and that I can communicate with others out there going through similar circumstances although it won't ever be the same situations. I hope to make time soon to start a blog myself and would love to become great blogging friends! :)

    My husband told his parents of his diagnosis and they admit some signs they've seen, but I don't feel that they want to accept it yet, so I'm with you on not being able to discuss it with family, and I hate to suggest it to anyone else (like my adopted brother) I feel like may have AS as well.

    It's ok. We have a long road ahead of us, but we're also a Christian family. We've had many rough times in our 5 1/2 years together, and have discussed divorce on many occasions. I take very seriously my committment to him in marriage, and believe the adultery if you divorce on your own we always choose to stay. I hope that things will get easier, but they may get harder first.

    I'm rambling...but I just want you to know that your blog has already lifted my spirits about this and I'll be an active follower. Have a great weekend!

  7. Hi Katie!

    Thanks for commenting and please let me know when you start your blog so I can find it.

  8. aspmom, I've created my blog over at Tonight I'm writing my first post, so it's pretty blank right now. Thanks for your interest though and I look forward to talking with you lots in the future!

  9. What if the girl(me)'s an Aspie too??? What does a guy need?? What if everything goes wrong? Do I have an inferiority complex if I think no-one should be stuck with me? How do I know if I do something entirely wrong, and if I do how do I fix it?? I hate not knowing this stuff...
    If I'm acting looney please ignore my comment, I'm probably just being hormonal and paranoid....

  10. AspieGrrl,

    I don't know what to tell you. My hope for my aspie children is that if they marry it will be to another aspie who shares their common interests. I can imagine they could be very happy in that situation. They tell me now (at their young ages) that they are not going to get married, but they are going to have lots and lots of animals for pets!

    There are great books out there on understanding the typical male-- Men are from Mars and The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands are two of them.

    But I would always suggest that everyone learn to ask probing (not yes or no) questions. "What did I do that upset you?" "What does that expression mean?" "What can I do differently in this situation in the future?" "I have AS. Please explain what just happened to me because I'm confused." If you are willing to ask, listen, and learn without being
    defensive, a relationship should be able to resolve conflict.

  11. I'm sorry, I wrote that when I was a little bit, shall we say, um, well - to steal the term from my other post 'hormonal'(it's sort of unfortunate that that time is when I posted*Shakes Head At Self For Impulsive/Hormonal Behavior*). You're reply did help, thank-you. When I was little I was very certain I would never marry(I was also 'certain' that I would never have any relationship at all). Now I am a teenager (see? There's a reason I was so impulsive during posting), I have a boyfriend (also AS) and yes, we share common interests!! I'm sorry if my original post worried you in any way, I truly was worried myself (I just finished talking to him, not at all worried anymore*GRIN*), thank-you so very much.*Sincere Smile Of Gratitude at Aspmom*