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Communication Between Asperger's Adults and their Spouses

By Jody Smith HERWriter
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This is an era of transition for adults with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) and their spouses. Until recently, these couples battled unanswered questions and unresolved pain. But because of research and support groups, this can now change.

There is no one personality type for the Asperger's adult. The traits they have in common are neurological in origin, and hamper their ability to read and respond to people around them. But these neurological markers, misunderstood in the past, damage their relationships, particularly if they are married.

For the non-Asperger's, or neurotypical, partner there has been a barrier to emotional intimacy throughout the relationship. This may have caused resentment and grief that their AS mate does not love or value them. The neurotypical spouse (NT) may withdraw, or criticize their Aspie, and unhealthy patterns mushroom over years of misunderstanding.

The Aspie may despair that they will always fail in pleasing their mate, and may become hostile or give up trying. The ripples of rejection grow.

Enter new research into Asperger's Syndrome. For couples starting out, and for couples who have weathered this storm for years and still want to weather it together, there is hope. Is it easy? Probably not. Is it simple? Well, yes, in some ways.

The NT will need to accept the fact that they must learn a new way of communicating. They'll need to understand that their partner does not "catch" nuances and hints and intimations that a neurotypical individual might. These things are invisible to the Aspie. Not because they have chosen this to be so. But simply because it is so. Facial expressions, small sighs, innuendo ... these are wasted and non-productive. A straightforward and verbally precise manner is needed on the part of the NT.

And, if their AS mate values the relationship, and is willing to listen to this direct communication, life can change for the better. The Aspie needs to heed the NT's feelings, even though the Aspie has no sense of this for themselves. If the Asperger's spouse is willing to act on the NT's stated needs, the partnership can work. The partners can find fulfillment together.

Add a Comment14 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I am sorry that I have to disagree with some of these comments. Not all people with AS miss out on nuances or cannot pick up on subtleties. Also, some people with AS can be empathetic and catch non-verbal communication. Many people with AS may have communication issues from very subtle (not noticeable to even friends) to severe (very overtly noticeable)- so you can't necessary even say that someone with AS cannot communicate with their spouses or have intimate relationships with those with and without AS. Also, it is quite disheartening that on many sites, people who are NT are often advised to make all or most of the changes for the person with AS. So, we are in fact teaching people with AS that it is okay to "not go out of your comfort zone because someone without AS will pick up the pieces for you." Everyone is accountable, and has to contribute to a relationship even if it takes a ton of mental, and emotional effort on the part of the person with AS. What is love without sacrifice. Love in action is work, and people shouldn't be let off the hook because they have challenges. We are not talking about people with classic autism who are non-verbal and cannot communicate. We are talking about people who have some communication challenges and who have average to above average intelligence. These individuals with Aspergers or High-functioning autism need to rise to the occasion in a relationship and put in the hard work, if they do indeed value the relationship. Otherwise, if people with AS expect to do the least amount of work because of their challenges, they shouldn't enter into a marriage contract with another individual. Anyone who doesn't want to put in the effort and go beyond for another person shouldn't get married. It is not fair to the other person. For those of you who are already married, I am not promoting divorce, but I will say it is not God's intention for you to be in bondage, and each person in the marriage needs to work together, despite limitations, towards a better marriage. Otherwise, there will be some accounting. People with AS may have some barriers, but they need to put effort forth in learning how to better communicate with their spouses. Ask for God's help, join a social skills group..do what you need to do, and don't make excuses. Put childish ways behind and become a man (woman) God wants you to be.

January 10, 2016 - 1:12pm
EmpowHER Guest

I married to a man has AS just know recently this week, he has AS, we been 4 years together and I just know all about this AS after we get married, I am Pilipina, and my husband is a British. He sent me an email to tell me, he wish to end our relationship last month, I was devastated, heavy heart, depressed, no deeper reason he come to this decision, I run to our Pastor for counseling, and prayer, is it true, praying is very powerful. After a week we not speak, I gave him time for himself to think, he ask me for forgiveness, and I forgave him, I still patients and try to understand him,,, days past I ask what his deeper reason why he comes on his mind to email me that way, it was very hurt! Then he told me he has AS, a reason he was divorce before because of this... But you know what I did, for God's wisdom, she bless me with acceptance, and understanding, we communicate everyday, even his special interest his boat, but in a day, he will gave me a time to speak before he will sleep. I never blaming him, instead I show how much I love him, being expressive is a good way to do, and. See now he does care and worried. Just stay be patients and pray to the Lord. It's is impossible for a man to do, because this is incurable, but for God nothing is impossible with him.

April 9, 2015 - 11:43pm
EmpowHER Guest

Get divorced, right away. I am with a partner (female) who has an ex-husband with a/s. He is the most awfull person since he doesn't understand their mutual childs emotions - he has a/s too. Still now after they are divorced he is constant trouble, not accepting that is only child needs special care. I don't care about being political incorrect here - i simply hate him. He's an awful father and a bad person - simply because he can't empathize, he's angry and resentfull because she left him. What a jerk. I wish i could do something physical about it. Please women - NEVER have children with an a/s man - next to a psycopath it's the worst. The kind on the other hand is lovable, but he is being slowly destroyed by his father and his "loving" wife, defending every wrongdoing he makes, claiming that we "bully" him because we have another opinion on his biological child. How awfull. A/s persons should NOT have children - and if you get one with one - leave him - and make sure he doesn't get child custody!

February 13, 2013 - 3:26pm
runningsooner (reply to Anonymous)

I second everything that was said above. It is a complete nightmare to deal with an Aspie after divorce. My ex-husband is in complete denial of our son having autism and displays the most horrific parental alienation you've ever seen. I went from me being miserable to my kids being miserable because that way he still get a dig on me. He is an evil, evil monster that does not care about anyone but himself. RUN!

March 29, 2016 - 4:42pm

My comment was the anon who was married 11 years. Jean if you are willing it would be very helpful to email discuss things with you. I am unable to find any woman who stayed married to a person with asp. All I read about is how it destroyed them and I could use someone to talk to. I know his intent is different from the surface appearance, but its so hard to remember that. I also have a little girl who has strong asp traits, praying her future is different than others I have read about. I really need a mentor and some hope. Thanks for your replies.

January 11, 2011 - 8:40pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Nikielizabeth)

i hope you can find me on facebook.jean low.dont like giving e,mail on here.yes my 2 children are a/s also.most of the wives with a/s husband have a/s children.its right through husbands family.please dont worry bout your child.the a/s people in my family mainly have good careers.they all enjoy their lives/its just thier partners who have problems accepting the a/s behaviour.but i am sure your girl will be fine.but from the start set strict rules and regime.this so helps.

January 12, 2011 - 3:32am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Nikielizabeth)

i i contribute to a face book site called a/s mums.you can find me on face book under jean low.the a/s mums and wives group is not open[privacy]so come through to me on face book.lots of us wives out here,just hidden.most of our husbands have good careers and do not want world to know.so much stigma still.

January 12, 2011 - 3:22am
EmpowHER Guest

I have been married for almost 11 years to a man with asp. I can't find any semblance of hope and feel so alone. I don't want to be his roomate/housekeeper/therapist/life manager. Is there any hope for something more. Women break down because there is no one to care for them. You are pulled into all those things for him, then you have children (a good bet at least one will have asp.) and then there isn't anything left for you. When you talk about it people think its you because he is such a nice guy- they don't live with it. I meant my marriage vows, but how can one person navigate a two person operation successfully? When you ask for him to help it seems like he is hearing chinese come from your lips.
So frustrated, I hate broken homes and marriages - I also value my sanity. You can redefine love and romance, but how does that meet the needs of both partners?

January 11, 2011 - 2:04pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Hello. I just found this comment and felt the need to let you know I'm in the exact situation as you. It's been awhile since you wrote all this and I was wondering if you have figured anything out. I have 3 children, 2 with him and one has a/s. Married ten years and I have come to despise him. I don't want to leave because our a/s child needs us to be together( and I don't trust him to care for them alone). After her diagnosis we discovered that is what he and his dad have. I have been alone since day 1 and I feel so trapped and discouraged. I always have said I don't agree with divorce for religious reasons, but I don't know how I can live this way!

December 21, 2014 - 9:07pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

so hear and understand,believe me i have so wanted to just leave this
disfunctional marriage so often over the last 45 yrs.
had no money,no where to go.and because my family saw my husband as hardworking,respectable,got no support there.
and of course without diagnosis i was blamed for all problems.
husbans whole family appear to be a/s so to him his behaviour is normal.
and now at 63 i am glad i stayed,security means a lot.and of course i understand him totaly now.have been on every course and read every book.so i now know he does not hate me.he just does not see the world as we do.
yes they are good actors,but cant keep it up.this may sound dreadfull,but i was so pleased when my husband had a full meltdown
in front of my sister,she was so shocked,she thought i was making it up for 40 yrs,she now believes me.
getting back to you.its your choice,now there is more help if you decide to go your own way.
society does judge,i had to sever all contact with our a/s daughter
6 yrs ago.she became so abusive physicaly and mentaly to me and her child.it took a long time to find the courage,so hard to do.i miss her.but could no longer cope with the terrible abuse.
so we have to be strong,thank god my a/s husband has never been physicaly abusive.i would have tuened my back yrs ago.look after yourself.only you can choose,

January 11, 2011 - 3:32pm
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