Saturday, February 26, 2011

Attitude and Actions

A cheerful attitude and kind actions are likely all an aspie wants from his spouse.  Gavin's excellent keywords for understanding aspies and affection are found in his Valentine's post at the Life With Aspergers blog: "Smiles and Hugs." Simple, and oh, so true.  He just wants smiles and hugs! 

Sadly, what aspie males probably don't comprehend is what is required of him to elicit those things from her.  And so the two most important things to him are probably the very last things he tends to get.

For all of this to really work a few steps must be taken. 
1.  First, the NT wife absolutely must give up the hope and expectation that her aspie spouse is or ever will be deeply interested in her innermost thoughts or feelings.  He doesn't have any interest in (or ability to be) 'connecting' with what makes her who she is spiritually and emotionally at the core of her being.  Such a bitter pill to swallow.  But to heal the marriage, it must be swallowed!  And that pill must be swallowed every time the cancerous bitterness creeps back into her heart.  She might lose some hair (from pulling it out in frustration!) while taking this treatment pill, but keep in mind any negative side effects will be worth suffering, to reach the healing outcome ahead.

2.  Next, she must clearly communicate to him that she is deeply *unhappy and needs him to do X, Y, and Z to help make her happy.  X, Y, and Z must be tangible, practical, things/actions that can be carried out by someone with asperger's syndrome.

*(Sometimes 'unhappiness' is not understood by the aspie when explained in words, but may only be understood by some degree of absence of warm attitude and actions.  This is a tough one to grapple with as a Christian, and will be the subject of another post.)

3.  The Aspie must make X, Y, and Z a top priority of things he must do regularly in his life.  This means it comes before paying the bills, before brushing his teeth, before whatever his 'special interest' is.  Before anything that gets the first/most of his time or money should come X, Y, and Z that show his wife he loves her in the ways she wants to be shown.  And so he must swallow his own bitter pill -- one he believes to be a placebo because X, Y, and Z make no sense to his brain and he truly doesn't believe it will make any difference whatsoever in the NT's attitude or actions.

But I can tell you that it will make a difference.  Her attitude and actions will change for the better.  Magically, somehow, without your being able to understand it, those inner workings of the heart will cause outer workings of cheerful attitudes and actions.  Smiles and hugs will reappear.  If, and likely only if, you get to work on her 'Honey Do You Love Me' list of X, Y, Z.


  1. Sadly, you've got some good points there.

    I will clarify your first point though; "NT wife absolutely must give up the hope and expectation that her aspie spouse is or ever will be deeply interested in her innermost thoughts or feelings."

    It's not so much about lack of interest as lack of understanding.

    For this example; I'm assuming that you're not a physicist... Someone could spend ages talking to you about quantum mechanics but without the proper background, you'll never understand them.

    Sometimes you'll follow basic concepts. This is like telling an aspie that "I'm feeling sad today and I need a hug" but usually the more complex concepts are simply well out of your reach.

    For example; My wife was once devastated that she wasn't invited to a party that all her friends went to. Her sadness/anger about this went on for months - in fact, I'd say it still affects her today. I understand that this makes her sad but I can't get to the depths of her feeling because in her shoes, I'd be happy to miss a social occasion.

    I can tread softly and be extra nice to her when she's feeling down but sometimes I just can't see the issue.

    It's not simply a matter of "not wanting to", it's all about understanding (one of the first steps to true empathy). I can understand her emotional state but I can't really understand how she got there.

    The best I can do is address the issues I can see and hope that the rest goes away.

  2. You have posted about what I'm really struggling with. I know my husband wants (and needs) me to be cheerful and affectionate. But I am so tired and empty and it is such an effort to put on a happy face when I'm struggling inside and know there is no point trying to explain to him how I feel. Whenever I feel ignored by him I automatically say to myself "he doesn't care" but I'm trying to change this to - "he does care, but he has AS and is unable to understand and respond"

  3. Hi Princess Morag!

    I'm really struggling, too. It's even worse when he's demanding I explain why I'm acting the way I am--because any attempt at explaining only makes things much much worse (for me). Instead of saying "he doesn't care" (which I think all the time to myself), I'm trying to focus on how I should respond. Like by telling myself "love your enemies, bless and do not curse, be kind, be hospitable with no grumbling, etc."

    If we can conquer this trial by loving an 'enemy' who is so close to us and who often drives us insane . . . we can conquer anything, don't ya think?! :)

  4. Thanks for writing this; it was an eye opener. In my own marriage, I'm the Aspie and my husband is the NT (I'm newly diagnosed). There have been many times he's voiced unhappiness over one thing or another and I'd sit there unable to fully understand what he's upset about or how my actions could ever change anything.

    He'd get upset if I didn't hang out with him at night and it didn't make sense because I love alone time and I figured he'd appreciate some of his own too. But I know now that he's a much more social creature than I am.

    What's wild is that I DO expect my husband to be happy and cheerful but now that you mention it I really haven't been doing what I would need to in order to elicit that sort of response out of him. I never thought of it like that. It makes sense's a cause and effect issue, it seems.

    Anyway, thanks for the info.

  5. I so struggle too with reaching out and giving him that smile, great big hug and affection he so desires. I am wounded and I want to retreat like a flower that closes when it gets cold. I am tired and worn. I desperately need the Lord's help to do the opposite of what I feel. I wish it was easier and I had this feeling of genuine love and admiration, but on my own strength I do not have it. It makes me sad. It is my hope that God will help me to love deeper; and it is that hope, of the power of the Holy Spirit working in my life, that keeps me from total despair.