I have Asperger's. In this article, I share my story of some of the challenges (and joys) my husband and I face together.
I Have Asperger's, and I've Been Married for 15 Years
Okay, now I know people with Asperger's Syndrome are more often than not considered to be rather aloof, cold and detached from their feelings. Or as is more often suggested, ‘we lack empathy for others.’ Yet just to be awkward or ‘inflexible,’ as the text books would describe me, I beg to disagree. Personally as an Asperger's lady, I love my husband of 15 years very much although he would probably die of shock if he read this. Or, as I have often heard muttered, ‘you don’t show it very much do you?’
You see, the thing neurotypical people often don’t realize is that the Asperger's individual can often be kind, considerate, caring, creative, and actually makes a great, loyal partner once you scratch beneath the surface and go to the trouble of understanding him or her.
Here are a few pointers for understanding your Asperger's partner compiled by me. I have also taken on board suggestions that have been made over the years by my long-suffering but very lucky husband (even though I am not sure that’s how he would describe himself exactly).
Asperger's Syndrome and Feelings
It is quite unlikely that your Asperger's partner will spend their days running around after you singing romantic songs of devotion into your ear or going on the radio proclaiming how much they love you to the world. It is also quite possible that your Asperger's lover may never shower you with velvet kisses twenty-four hours a day, or may not usually be the overtly physically affectionate type.
Nonetheless our Asperger protestations of love are possibly less frequent but this does not mean that any Aspergers individual actually loves their partner any less than a neurotypical person would. It just means we think it and feel it a lot more than we actually show it. Being overtly demonstrative (yes I know many NT’s would protest that it is actually more commonly known as romance) in showing you is just not our natural way.
So if your Asperger's partner hugs you, kisses you or tells you they love you out of the blue then consider this to be a massive confirmation of their feelings for you. Because their autistic brain had to go to a lot of trouble before they could manage to display their feelings for you; i.e., their brain would have had to go through a process something like this to reach that point.
‘ ...I love my partner so much that I want to show him in a way he will understand. Ah yes now I know what I’ll do. Aren’t these NT’s always hugging, kissing and displaying physical signs of love for each other so maybe I could give him a kiss? Or hug him? Or tell him I love him? Now don’t ask me why but for some strange reason these NT people seem to need to hear that you love them over and over again?
Yes, I have often wondered too why once isn’t enough and to be honest I still don’t know? Maybe it is because they just have short memory spans and they just forget these things easily or maybe it is that repetition is just an issue for him specifically?
No that couldn’t be it either, because aren’t they all always banging on about showing your partner you love them and that you need to say it with wine, chocolates and flowers etc., Still, I am partial to a nice bunch of Stargazer lilies myself and a bottle of champers would be quite nice so I wouldn’t mind at all if himself brought me a gift every now and again.
Hmmm! I am veering off the point totally now so maybe I just need to accept that I don’t know why this ‘show me you love me,’ thing is so important to the NT population, it just is. So, I will just have to conclude that the NT brain is just truly strange. Okay then I will just get on with it so, because I do love him and I want to make him happy.
Isn’t it a pity though that he wouldn’t just prefer a nice book about the psychology behind autism, I’d love to get that new one that’s out. Or is there any chance I could just show him I love him by telling him all about the new discovery I just read about its just truly fascinating i.e. it's a 50 page report all about Autism and its real genetic basis, imagine us spending the evening discussing that over a bottle of chardonnay? But for some unknown reason his eyes just glaze over and he always starts sighing heavily when I start talking about a subject that is truly fascinating to me.
No I guess it’s safer to just state the blatantly obvious yet again and tell him once more that I love him. Why is it necessary though? I mean but….. Okay, stop thinking about it now and just stick to the plan. It may seem strange to you but who really knows what goes on inside the Neurotypical brain...?'
Aspergers Syndrome and Domesticity
I think my better half thought when we settled down to domestic bliss that I would no longer rather be writing about the weirdness of this world—and instead would suddenly become the Asperger's Domestic Goddess that he had always dreamed of having. Unfortunately though for him, that never happened.
Many times over the years I will have said something like, ‘oh, but I didn’t know that that was how you were supposed to clean the glass? I have been doing it this way all along and all the time there was a much easier way about it and you never told me?’
Then I would look at my better half as if to say, why have you kept this D.I.Y. secret from me all these years and made me spend so much extra time at this drudgery when I didn’t need to?
Then my partner would shrug his shoulders and shake his head, ‘but it’s obvious,’ he would say, ‘I thought everyone just knew that?’ In the early years this may have led to an argument because I couldn’t understand how the hell I could possibly know the tricks of the domestic trade when nobody had ever told me about them? It is so much easier now that I realize my brain just wasn’t programmed with all this practical knowledge that his brain just seems to have. But over the years I have now compiled my own mental manual about a lot of these tasks and I am always jokingly saying, ‘any day now I am going to write a Domestic Guide for the Aspergers Individual,’ or something like that. If only I had had that manual myself long, long ago.
Meltdown and Aspergers
Aspergers Syndrome and Meltdowns
For the first 13 years of our marriage I didn’t know I had Asperger's Syndrome, and now looking back, I realize that our biggest area of conflict seemed to be whenever I had a good, old-fashioned Asperger's meltdown.
What is an Autistic Meltdown exactly?
Just to briefly explain a meltdown for me is a release of all the pent-up emotions, anger, frustration, stress, depression, anxiety etc that I have been holding in for a while but then suddenly something trigger’s its release and I go ballistic. It is a tough old world for a person with Asperger's and every day normal stuff that NT’s can just instinctively do we have to analyze and strategise about so this really is quite a stressful way to live and unfortunately depression and anxiety levels are quite high among autistic people anyway, for this reason.
The thing to note here though is I really can’t control my emotions once they start spewing out and the best thing to do really is to avoid me like the plague for at least an hour until my emotions have had a chance to be released. Then gradually I will start to come back down into some kind of normal emotional rhythm again. Pretty much like the Incredible Hulk really. Don’t make me angry when I am in meltdown mode but if you think you might then a walk, a drive or send me on my way somewhere to get over it.
You may ask what triggers a meltdown and that’s the tough part it could be something big like the meltdown I eventually had after I had spent months banging my head off brick walls trying to get an autism diagnosis for my son until eventually I snapped and let a doctor have it. Or else it might be just be a little straw that breaks the camels back e.g. somebody has eaten the last bowl of cereal. This momentarily seems like a total disaster because I am already on the meltdown route today and my tolerance levels are very low.
Since I got my Asperger's diagnosis it is now a whole lot easier too because I now have a definition of what a meltdown is. As well as understanding when one is coming on and what to do to contain the damage so to speak. I think it has really helped my marriage too because for years I had been telling my better half that I really can’t stop myself once I get into meltdown mode and he just didn’t believe me. This led to many, cold, silent nights in our house for many years.
Then though the dawn came and I was finally able to read him the definition of a meltdown in a very useful book called ‘Aspergers Syndrome for Dummies.’ So finally I was vindicated when many other experts confirmed what I had known all those years, i.e. the best thing to do when an Aspergers individual is in meltdown mode is to just walk away from this person about to have a meltdown and just give them some quite time to get over it providing of course that they are not going to do harm to themselves, if they are then that’s a different story entirely.
Now if I know a meltdown is imminent I tell my family, ‘I am in meltdown mode today so give me a wide berth.’ That works very well I find suddenly the house goes quite and there is nobody around. Then if the need takes me I can go and have a good cry or often I may take my frustration out on my computer and start writing irate letters to some poor unsuspecting individual (which I do usually end up editing later when I have recovered) or whatever it is I need to do until the mood passes.
Aspergers and love
Aspergers Syndrome and Us
At the end of the day, the Asperger's Relationship isn’t for the faint hearted or for those that like an ordered or mainly materialistic life, or they just like to live in a more conventional world.
All of us Asperger's people are a bit individual and often dressing the beds or tidying the cupboards is just not as important as sitting down here and writing this article. Don’t get me wrong though that is just me because my areas of Special Interest include writing and psychology. These areas that the Aspergers individual finds fascinating could just as easily be any subject really e.g. gardening, interior design, art, fashion, science, music, computer design or even OCD type tidying but in my case that is just not how it is.
They say the key to a happy Asperger's relationship is settling down with another like-minded individual; i.e., another Aspie, but I am sure there are couples out there too who have NT partners. No two couples are the same, and whatever works for you is just fine. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Michelle on September 07, 2017:
Hi, i am falling in love with an Aspie man..this is a big help for me.
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on February 05, 2013:
Thanks for your comment. It is definitely harder for people with Aspergers to meet a partner and hold down a relationship but it is quite possible for us to do too. Like everyone it may work out and it may not, you've just got to take your chances.
BagiM on February 05, 2013:
Hello, i had one classmate and some schoolmates with Aspergers syndrome. This was really interesting post for me. I sometimes wondered what will happen to them after schooll. It is nice to hear that they have chance for happy relationshipes.
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on November 24, 2012:
Thanks Mary615, yes being able to warn of an imminent meltdown has certainly improved things for us all.
Mary Hyatt from Florida on November 23, 2012:
I am not at all familiar with Aspergers Syndrome. The behavior reminds me of a deeply introverted personality. It's good that you can warn your family when you feel you are going to have a "melt down", though.
I voted this Hub UP, etc.
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on October 10, 2012:
Thank you too for your comment.
Gail Meyers from Johnson County, Kansas on October 10, 2012:
I have never know anyone with Aspergers or really even heard much about it prior to HP. So I find this hub to be an interesting look at the issues. Thanks for sharing your insight! Voted up!
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on October 09, 2012:
And thank you for commenting. I was very angry as a teenager like your nephew and even well into my 20's but eventually I became more accepting of myself hopefully he may in time. I worry too my son will become angry and isolated later on he is already getting very frustrated with the Speech Delay he has but I guess you just have to keep going and see what happens. There are never any guarantees anyway.
Deborah from Las Vegas on October 09, 2012:
Very interesting hub owl, both my niece and nephew have been diagnosed with AS. My nephew has become isolated and angry and my niece continues to struggle with social issues but never gives up. Although my nephew is more towards the autistic spectrum, he has many AS characteristics in his emotions. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences, it is very helpful to those living with AS.
Mary Kelly Godley (author) from Ireland on October 09, 2012:
Thanks very much.
Margaret Perrottet from San Antonio, FL on October 09, 2012:
Fascinating look into aspergers and relationships. Voted up and interesting. Love your writing style!