Sunday, October 4, 2015

Speaking of Consequences . . .

Yesterday, my aspie spouse started yelling at me in the car.  What started the argument was, of course, my fault. 

Because I'm a total idiot.  Mainly, because I have feelings.  And (cardinal sin that it is), I tried to share said feelings.

So stupid of me!

Will I never learn?  Obviously not.

No matter how much brilliant and helpful how-to-speak-to-an-aspie-knowledge I store in this noggin of mine, my natural, God-created heart will vomit out my feelings via this mouthpiece of mine that can't seem to stay shut.  Or to remember the "rules."  Great rules, yes.  But are they always there in an argument?  Nope.

So, don't feel like a failure when the tips, tricks, and rules are forgotten and feelings spew out.

Take a deep breath.  And get out of the argument as fast as you can.  Any way that you can.

Know what I did yesterday?  When he was yelling at me?  And I was stuck in a car?  (Normally, I drive.  Again, I was a complete idiot yesterday and forgot to insist on driving myself.)

I got out.  In the middle of an intersection.  At a red light.  In the middle of traffic.

And I started walking.

I had no plan other than to just get away from him.  Because he will no longer be allowed to treat me that way.  To speak to me that way.  To YELL at me.

I walked several blocks.  Home was about five miles away.  And I was willing to walk all the way, around dangerous, sidewalk-less curves. 

Maybe I would've called a friend.  Or in a momentary bout of insanity, accepted a ride from a stranger (a female stranger, only, though).  I guess I could always call a cab.  And charge the bill to his credit card.  Ha!  Now THAT would get his attention.

Well, he pulled up beside me, completely shell-shocked.  Where am I going?  I am going home.  I am not spending the day with you.  I am not joining you on the plans we had for the day.  I am going home.  If you will take me straight there without talking, I will get in the car.  Otherwise, I will find another way home.

And he drove me home.  Where I locked myself in the bedroom for the rest of the day.  (*Another life-saving tip:  get a doorknob with a lock to which you have the only key!)

At the end of the night, my aspie quietly and humbly apologized for not listening to my concerns.  Yes, my aspie has come a very, very long way.  Apologizing for "not listening to my concerns" would never have happened the first umpteen years of our marriage.  These days, however, my aspie can actually be pretty darn awesome.  I thank God for that.  For getting us help.  For couples counseling, and therapy, and a diagnosis, and answered prayers.

Keep praying.  Forgive him, and forgive yourself for all the times you mess up and OOPS! share your feelings.  Use consequences.  It can get better.  It can, it can, it can.  But it will never be easy.  It will never be over.  Aspergers will always be there as a trial for you both to fight your way through, learning, growing, and becoming better and stronger because of it.

God is good.  God is in control.  God gave him this.  God gave you this.  And He will provide a way for you both.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Consequences and Nondefensive Communication

Another great book worth having at your fingertips for frequent reference is "Emotional Blackmail" by Susan Forward.  The author states that "Nondefensive communication always works!" And she is absolutely correct.

Over the past few months, I have worked hard at communicating more effectively with the aspies in my life, especially with the ones who tend to be rather angry.  My getting defensive, yelling, crying, seeking to argue, justify, or give reasonable explanations, only escalated problems.  Two major changes, however, have impacted my life immensely.

1.). Consequences.  Set a boundary line around issues and areas that need help, and start protecting your time, energy, heart, and life.  Be calm and clear.  After asking nicely that your aspie take your feelings into consideration (which they likely won't and/or just won't know how to manage such a feat), state the consequence for failing to take care of your comfort or health.  "I feel scared.  If you do not stop speeding on these dangerous roads, I will find another way home from the event."  "My pain level is bad this week.  If you do not put the in-laws in a hotel when they come to visit, I will go stay in a hotel myself until they leave." "I'm not willing to be yelled at. I'm leaving." Sound too harsh? An NT would not as likely need such directness along with a consequence, after explaining one's emotional turmoil or health problems that are affected in a given scenario, but your aspie might.

2.) In an argument, use Nondefensive answers only and refuse to justify, argue, defend, or explain yourself.   For memory's sake, the book gives the acronym JADE (don't Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain).  I prefer more grim terms, and use the acronym DEAD (Don't Explain, Argue, or Defend).  Because if there will be no chance of reaching mutual understanding, the sooner the argument is killed the better!
Most importantly, one should commit to memory a list of Nondefensive answers:

"I'm sorry you're upset."
"I understand how you might see it that way."
"You're entitled to your opinion."
"This is the way it has to be."
"I need to think about this more."

and one more time . . . The one phrase that can be used in any conversation that will bring an argument to a close . . . "I'M SORRY YOU ARE UPSET." (aka "I'm sorry you feel that way.")

Respond with that one phrase and always remember your goal for heated arguments.


Don't Explain, Argue, or Defend!  

What?  You disagree?

I'm sorry you feel that way.  ;)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

For Better

Counseling has made a world of difference in our relationship!  Meeting with a counselor who understands autism, and having my emotions validated by a professional in the presence of my aspie spouse, is what I needed to be able to move forward with contentment.  I didn't realize how much I needed that.

Whether he ever understands me, communication, or our relationship, the fact that he physically attends a counseling session where he has to give his full attention to the marriage has completely changed us for the better.

When we miss a session, anger and misery creep back, old habits return with a vengeance.  For now it is obvious that we must regularly meet together with a counselor.   It only makes sense, right?  The aspie is often lacking the common sense to see what others see so easily. He needs to focus deeply on the task.  He might see counseling as pointless.  Even during and after sessions he may believe it was a waste of time.  But if it's what you need, it's okay to make it a non-negotiable requirement.

Whether he realizes it or not, the relationship got his full attention for the time in counseling, and seeds were planted that will slowly take root and grow. Somewhere in that amazing aspie brain, communication was the focus.  He was there.  He was there with me.  Though it may not make any sense to him whatsoever, his attending counseling sessions with me makes me know that he cares and that he is trying.

It's better.  The relationship is not all good. But it's better.

Praise God, we are better.