Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Good Progress Report to Share!

Okay.  Nice to have a little something positive to share about progress in an NT/AS relationship:

First the bad news, or I should say the 'typical scenario' that occurred recently . . . NT wife was bedridden with an illness.  AS spouse did not once, all day, check in on NT wife.  Did not once ask if she needed medicine, food, or even a sip of water.

Good news . . . instead of being overcome with anger and flooded by tears, NT wife was fairly emotionless (wow) and calmly and rationally went to AS spouse and said something along these lines:

I am really sad and feel very hurt that while I was so sick and in so much pain you went all day without even once checking to see how I was doing or if I needed medicine or even water.  It also hurt me that when I told you I didn't feel well the first thing you did was act frustrated that I was messing up your plans for the day.  You didn't ask questions or try to find out exactly what was wrong or how I was feeling.  That is very unkind and unloving of you.

Now, if it isn't amazing enough that NT wife was not YELLING and crying while she said these things . . . hold on to your hats folks, because a miracle occurred when AS spouse replied with the words, and I quote:

"I'm sorry."

Miracle of miracles!  Wham, Bam, Ala Ka Zam!  And that's all he said!  He didn't get defensive and make excuses and make it all about him and his frustration.  He shut the heck up after saying "I'm sorry."


Yes, I'm in shock.  No, I never thought I'd see the day.  Please, God, let this not be a one-time event.  Please, please let this be real, sustainable progress in an NT/AS relationship.

Can I hear an "amen?"


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's Not About You. It's About Autism!

This is turning out to be a very Word "Full" Wednesday . . . thanks for all your comments everyone!

So here's the other Big Thing about all this we've been discussing in the comments lately.

If "autism" is allowed to be this separate entity, if you will . . . this abnormality/damage/handicap of the brain . . . . then when we NTs share our frustrations, it is NOT "all about you, the aspie."

It's our struggle with autism.  It's our struggle with the differences and frustrations that come from AUTISM.  It's not about YOU.

We may believe you to be kind, loyal, brilliant, handsome, and the man of our dreams.  But sometimes we get frustrated and upset by the different way you think and act.  We get frustrated by the brain differences that come from autism.  And we try to explain to you our frustrations.  And then you act irritated with us for doing so.

So do you want us to act like everything is okay?  Do you want us to suppress sobs in the closet?  Or are your our soul-mate, our spouse for life, the best friend we should confide everything in?  Can you please make it safe for us to share?  To share what upsets us?  To share our feelings in safety (this means you will listen and love us gently without being defensive)?

For the aspies reading this . . . let's say your NT spouse is taking a medication that alters her mental functioning.  It makes her forgetful and disoriented like an alzheimer's patient, at times.  Sometimes it makes her aggressive and hostile.  NOW.  She CANNOT HELP these things.  She can struggle against them, but her brain is affected by the meds.  And it is very, very difficult for you to live with.  It is frustrating and painful to you sometimes.

Say that you want to try to explain to her what is frustrating you.  Should she get defensive?  Like you are attacking who she is?  It's the medicine.  It's not "her."  It's okay for you to discuss with her what is difficult for you.  And she can say "I'm sorry."

This is where it helps you to separate who you are from the autism that affects your brain.  This is where you should say "I'm sorry" without getting defensive.

IT HURTS us.  "It" hurts us.

And we NTs want to talk it out, explain our feelings and emotional grief.  And we want a hug, a listening ear, and to hear "I'm sorry."

That's what we're missing.  And that's what we need to be happy.

It's Not About You. It's About ME!

One of the most frustrating things in trying to communicate with aspies is the inability to share your feelings and perspective without the aspie getting defensive.

If I attempt to share my internal struggles, instead of listening and acting like my pain matters to him, he focuses on what my pain says about him.  But there are times when emotional sharing is not about him.  It's about me.

So, aspie friends, if I share how difficult something is . . . accept that it has nothing to do with you for a moment.  It has to do with me.  It has to do with a personal, internal, emotional pain.  That I am trying to work out and deal with, both for my own happiness and yours, too.  That's what we NTs do, ya know.  We talk it out, we write it out, we work it out, out loud (sometimes).  Just listen.  And nod.  And hug.  And don't respond as if you've been attacked. 

Because for a little while, it's just about us, okay?

It's not about you. 

If you think it is about you and you think we're telling you how horrible you are . . . KILL YOUR PRIDE for a moment and just say "I'm SORRY." You don't have to mean that you're sorry for being at fault when you don't think you are at fault.  Just say the words "I'm sorry" and think to yourself that you are sorry that the person is unhappy.  That's all you have to mean when you say it.  Can you do that?  Forget about it being about you to any degree.  Think about the other person's obvious unhappiness at that moment and be sorry for them.

That's ALL you have to do.  That's all you should ever say in that scenario.  You have the power to make the NT feel better, be happier, and love you more, just by saying the words "I'm sorry" when they are unhappy or upset.  Try it!  They are the ultimate magic words.

And I think that is the absolute hardest thing in the world for an aspie.  To do.  Or to say.

"They Have Such a Great Marriage!"

"A Great Marriage"

Yep, I said those very words about an NT/AS couple I know.  Years ago, I said that my goal in life was to have a marriage JUST LIKE that couple.

I've heard others use those words about an AS/AS couple I know.  I've heard others talk about my own (NT/AS) marriage the same way as well.  We have SUCH a "great" marriage.  That's how it looks from the outside.  That's what (almost) everyone who knows us thinks.

And it does look good.  And in a literal, practical, almost sterile way . . . it is good.  The perfect team.  Co-workers for a common goal.  Such a hardworking, like-minded, pleasant, and kind couple.  Beautiful kids.  Nice house.  Hospitable family.  Ideal life.  I'm realizing there are LOTS of families that look like ours.  Functioning smoothly and pleasantly.

But with some serious and intense scrutiny you may find that one of the couple is an NT and the other is an aspie.  And though their life is "beautiful" . . . the NT has a deep sadness and lacks emotional connection in their marriage.

Now here's the deal.  There is a lot of good.  Try not to forget the good.  Make a list of things you can be thankful for and reflect on that list periodically.  There IS some good in your life!

This blog is about one Christian woman's personal struggle as an NT who is married to a man with aspergers.  It delves deep into that struggle.  And it shares what makes things better and easier for this one woman.  It is shared with the hope of letting others know they are not alone on the journey. 

Most NT spouses of aspies bash, berate, and tell others to leave.  But my goal is to stay.  I try hard not to "bash" but I do share my pain.  It is difficult to love difficult people.  I don't pretend that it is easy to love aspies.  But I am trying to love them as best I can.  Because I believe difficult people should also be loved.

If this blog gives anyone even a tiny bit of help and hope, then the time and effort has not been wasted.  Occasionally I sign in, often after a long absence, seriously planning to hit the "Delete This Blog" button, but I see that a comment has just been posted saying how encouraged someone is to keep working and keep loving their aspie partner.  Sometimes it has served as the little boost an NT needed to not give up, and to not feel so alone.

So I'm still here.  And I hope you are encouraged.

You are most definitely NOT alone.

Monday, November 14, 2011

FLIP SIDE: In Sickness and For Worse

This is a follow-up post to "In Sickness and For Worse":

Keep in mind that one of your aspie's best traits is his/her loyalty to you.

If you are injured in a car wreck or one day have brain cancer, become brain damaged, and are then just not yourself for the rest of your life . . . your aspie would stick by you.  She/he would keep her vow to stay with you when many NTs wouldn't.  Many NTs would run and leave you all alone.

Your aspie is likely very faithful and loyal. We should learn this great trait from them. 

It is worthy of honor.

In Sickness and For Worse

If you are not a person of faith, this post does not apply to you.  It is meant for Christians and may also apply to those who strongly believe they should keep vows and promises.

I am saddened by the breakup of two NT/AS marriages I've read about recently.  These were aspies who were very self-aware.  These aspies worked very hard to make their marriages work.  And the NT left them.  Now, I admit that if one is not a person of faith, I honestly don't know why the NT stayed as long as they did.  If all one cares about is personal happiness in this life . . . "GET OUT NOW!" would be my advice in a heartbeat.

But I am a person of faith.  I believe vows before God and promises to others should be kept. That doesn't mean it's easy to stay in an NT/AS marriage.  In fact, it's beyond difficult.  It's painful.  It's gut-wrenching agony sometimes.  Sometimes it just sucks.  It really does! 

And aspies are shooting themselves in the foot when they claim that autism is not a disability or a handicap.  Their partners are leaving them left and right because if this is not a handicap/disability or at least recognized as a serious hardship on others, then the aspie is just a jerk or a bitch much of the time, okay?  Aspie friends, if this is acknowledged as a brain abnormality, a disability, a handicap . . .  you will get more compassion from your NT spouse!! 

But of course, the aspie fights these terms.  Because the aspie cannot and does not realize it will help SOMEONE ELSE'S perspective and thus someone else's actions towards them!  They're not gonna get it!  And their partners will leave them, left and right.  Is that what you guys want?  Okay, you got it.  Enjoy life alone.  Is that what you REALLY want?!?

As for the NT spouses who are keeping their vows in sickness and for worse:  Think of this as sickness.  You know it's "for worse" already.  Think about your spouse as a handicapped person.  Think of them as having been in a car accident, or having gone through brain cancer and then brain surgery.  And they came out alive, but not quite themselves.  Their brains are altered and damaged to some degree.  This degree of damage causes much anguish for you, the caregiving spouse.  But they need you, and you promised to be there for them.

It helps to think this way.  What sucks is that you're the only one who knows that they are damaged.  Others think they are fine.  You are the compassionate, giving, stretched-thin, miserable and lonely caregiver and many times no one in the world knows what you suffer.  Which compounds the loneliness a hundredfold.

But you are not alone.  NT spouses all over the world know exactly how you feel.  Support groups would be invaluable for us, but they are incredibly rare at this time.  Ultimately though, you are not alone if you are a Christian.  Your help comes from the Lord.  And that should be, and can be . . . enough.

He gave you this.  He brought you two together.  He is allowing you to suffer.  He wants you to need Him, to go to Him, to depend and rely on Him alone to meet your needs.  He is waiting for you and promises to draw near to those who draw near to Him.

Something we NTs can learn from the aspie in this scenario is to do our work with an intrinsic motivation.  We can learn from their example not to strive for man's approval and adulation and commendation.  We shouldn't need others to pat our backs and tell us what a good job we are doing caregiving our disabled spouse.  We should love and live and give our lives for others as unto the Lord, and not unto man.

We are learning these things because of the suffering we experience in our NT/AS marriages.  We can become better people, better Christians, because of our troubles and toil in these marriages

Change your thinking. Focus on these truths.  Take heart. 

And don't give up.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Warning Against Temptation

You know how you can exchange a quick look and smile over small talk with the UPS man, or the guy in the elevator, or a male friend you are chatting with and you are struck with what it feels like to emotionally connect?  And I don't mean anything inappropriate here.  But you realize in those glances how that most basic NT connection is absent from your NT/AS relationship.

Please carefully reflect and take those glances as a warning to put a hedge around yourself to protect you from temptation.  I have heard that Bill y Gra ham made a point of never being alone with a woman other than his wife.  Never alone behind a closed door or in a car.  He never allowed for a scenario that could lead to adultery.  He created strict rules to protect himself even from the slightest appearance of evil.  Such a godly and wise man!

Aspie spouses are especially vulnerable to quickly develop an emotional attachment that is very inappropriate for a married person.  You are so weak in this area that you could let those glances lead to deep sharing and voila . . . you are involved in an adulterous affair before you know what happened.  It starts out as an emotional "affair."  And that is also adulterous in nature.

All of this to say beware.  Hedge yourself safely.  Make what seem like crazy rules that will protect you in your vulnerability.  Don't be alone (even in a crowd, really) with an NT guy.  If thrown into that scenario, be sure not to share much, and get away as quickly as you can.  You are way too lonely and weak to walk through that kind of fire and not get burned.  Talk with a friend of the same gender!  Pay a counselor if you have to.  But don't glance too long or share much at all with any NT male.  Only share your emotions, personal thoughts, etc. with a friend of the SAME GENDER.  It's a RULE, okay?  Make it a Law for yourself if you are married to an aspie.

You are the "weak woman who could be led astray by diverse temptations" as it says in Scripture.  (Or, if you are the NT male, read through Proverbs for numerous warnings against adultery and adulterous women--you are an easy target for them, ya know!)  Be careful. 

Be very, very, very careful.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Getting What You Deserve

You'd probably start throwing rotten fruit if someone told you that in marriage you get what you deserve.  But I think it's worth considering.

You were attracted for a reason.  You connected for a reason.  The person was attracted to you for a reason.  You, at one time, believed you had found your equal, the perfect partner for life. 

Now that is a lot to consider. 

If you really look back at your family of origin and extended family, or maybe even to marriages or people who had a powerful influence on you . . . I bet you'll see some autistic traits in those folks.  It's probable that autism (even though undiagnosed) was a shaping factor in your development.  You are drawn to what is familiar to you.  Look hard.  I bet you find something you weren't expecting.

Not only are you drawn to what is familiar to you, but you might even have some (however mild) aspergerish traits yourself.  Think hard.

While dating, NTs of the opposite sex may have seemed too emotional, weak, changeable, or may not have seemed quite smart enough to you.  Think about it.  Were you either not attracted or even a little bit frightened by the devotion/attention NTs may have shown you prior to meeting your aspie spouse?

And then you met him and everything clicked.  He fit the checklist.  He didn't scare you away.  Hmmmmm.......?

Now.  You're married.  For a reason.  You fit with this particular guy.  You fit with this particular, peculiar asperger guy.  Okay? 

Am I saying you got what you deserve?  Well, I'm saying you got what you wanted from the first. 

And you got what God  designed especially for you, as part of His perfect plan, which includes how you were created yourself (both by nature and nurture in your growing up years).  And as far as shaping those character issues in yourself that need the most work . . . are you seeing some stuff you didn't realize was there thanks to that aspie guy you married?  Eh?  So in God's plan, you got what you needed

Deep breath.  So much growth and positive steps can happen once all of this is contemplated and embraced.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just Accept It, Even If It Doesn't Make Sense, Okay?

Okay, aspie friends, we come to an impasse over and over again.  We explain something you can do to help our relationship.  Something you can do that will make us feel better, that will make us happier.

But it doesn't make sense to you.  So you don't do it.

And then we get mad.  And that anger takes root and turns into bitterness.  And then we start to really, really hate you.  Sad, but true.  And yes, that anger/bitterness/hatred part is something we have to work out ourselves, apart from you.  It's an internal struggle.

But there are things you can do to make that root disappear more easily and more quickly.  There are things you could have done to prevent it from growing so quickly and strongly in the first place.  You watered it.  You helped it flourish.  We are responsible, ultimately, for it.  But you played a part, however unknowingly.

When we tell you what is important to us, please (for the sake of our happiness as well as your own):


Accept that we NTs aren't going to make sense.  Accept that when we say something is important to us, IT IS IMPORTANT, even if it is "senseless" to you.

Small talk.  Hugs.  Flowers.  Diamonds.  A pet. 

Our dreams.  Our fears.  Our happiness.  Our tears.

They matter.  Take note.  Remember.  And act on it.

Last night my aspie husband brought home a large plastic tarantula.  And I am hurt.  Deeply, deeply hurt.  It just makes me ill.  I am severely arachniphobic and for all of their lives my children (at least they remember!) know I have "banned" any toy spiders from entering this house, and all of sudden he just 'forgets' that?  I take this as him forgetting who I am.  Forgetting what matters to me.  Forgetting to think about me.  Forgetting to love me.

You can explain away the aspie brain all you want.  It still HURTS MY FEELINGS and was a careless, insensitive, and thoughtless thing to do.   He wasn't thinking about me at all.

Whether purposeful or not, it was an UNLOVING thing to do.

And things like this are par for the course in an NT/AS marriage.

And so I struggle and work on forgiving him and getting over my hurt.  And he?  Well, he brushes it off as ridiculous because "that doesn't make sense."  It's a senseless thing to get upset over, he thinks.

Who's doing all the work now?  Where's the one-sidedness now? 

Just accept it when we tell you something is important.  Please.