View Full Version : Communication issues: ADD & Asperger


ClaraRYCB
09-20-16, 06:49 AM
Hi everyone,

So here is my first issue. Just dipping my toes here so I'll keep it family friendly.

I have been married for 12 years, together for 13 years. Just 1 year short of a bit more insight in our dynamics. Husband is an Aspie (Asperger) and I have ADD (and depression and chronic pain).
Individually we receive counselling in forms of psychotherapy and me a psychiatrist (for the meds). No relationship counseling atm. We had some in the past but it was really NT oriented so did more harm than good.
We also had some family counseling for our son, but he's doing really well so that has been terminated.

The relationship between me and hubby has been really bad for years, mainly because we both know we were different so in some ways we could relate but not in others.
Communication is really difficult and talking almost always leads to heated arguments and conflicts.
I talk too much and use a lot of 'I feel'.
He experiences talking as extremely draining so he'd rather not.

I have been writing him some emails. Keeping it short and on point, fact like.

But I feel there is still so much left unsaid. I have no clue how to go about this issue.
We live separate lives but still eat and sleep together and run 'Parents Inc'.

Most books I have read either on Asperger-relationships or ADD-relationships are catered to the other partner being NT.

The blessing and curse? is that in some ways we are very much alike. Like feeling different from a young age, trouble with social stuff, managing jobs, organizing a household and finances and to some extent parenting.

During our marriage I guess being parents and my illness resulted in quite rigid structures of him earning money and me being the main caretaker of our son and responsible for the household, administration, school related events and other social functions.
I am not really happy about our roles but find changing those patterns really challenging without proper communication.

Divorce has been discussed but would leave us all even less happy, our son most of all, due to my poor health, financial issues and hubby's work schedule. Besides in some weird way we love each other and are protective of our little family. Plus we both agree it's premature to do anything now that we've just started this trajectory of getting to know our real selves better. Beyond faking it.

My solution is to find my own place like a cheap student studio where I can be more myself and also create stuff (I'm an artist but don't have my own space in our flat). I would still do most tasks as a homemaker but I would at least have a creative place where I can recharge and invite friends over. (having people over is a huge stressor for hubby and son)

I would appreciate tips, advice and insights from people in a similar situation.

Please lmk your thoughts, thank you.

sarahsweets
09-20-16, 09:15 AM
No relationship counseling atm. We had some in the past but it was really NT oriented so did more harm than good.
I understand what you mean but at this point even an OK therapist would be better than letting it ferment.


The relationship between me and hubby has been really bad for years, mainly because we both know we were different so in some ways we could relate but not in others.
Communication is really difficult and talking almost always leads to heated arguments and conflicts.
I talk too much and use a lot of 'I feel'.
He experiences talking as extremely draining so he'd rather not.

I think 'i feel' sentences are a good thing. It takes the blame away. I understand how he feels about talking but has this always been an issue? Even while dating?



But I feel there is still so much left unsaid. I have no clue how to go about this issue.
We live separate lives but still eat and sleep together and run 'Parents Inc'.

The blessing and curse? is that in some ways we are very much alike. Like feeling different from a young age, trouble with social stuff, managing jobs, organizing a household and finances and to some extent parenting.

Feeling like you live separate lives is a tough situation. Do you like living independently and only coming together for the things you mentioned?

During our marriage I guess being parents and my illness resulted in quite rigid structures of him earning money and me being the main caretaker of our son and responsible for the household, administration, school related events and other social functions.
I am not really happy about our roles but find changing those patterns really challenging without proper communication.

You are absolutely correct about trying to change without communication. If you are unhappy enough, you will have to talk to him and not allow his discomfort with deep emotions to dissuade you from continuing.

Divorce has been discussed but would leave us all even less happy, our son most of all, due to my poor health, financial issues and hubby's work schedule. Besides in some weird way we love each other and are protective of our little family. Plus we both agree it's premature to do anything now that we've just started this trajectory of getting to know our real selves better. Beyond faking it.
[quote]
I mean to ask, how old are you two?

[quote]My solution is to find my own place like a cheap student studio where I can be more myself and also create stuff (I'm an artist but don't have my own space in our flat). I would still do most tasks as a homemaker but I would at least have a creative place where I can recharge and invite friends over. (having people over is a huge stressor for hubby and son)

Creative space is good as long as it doesnt turn into the place you go to avoid dealing with things altogether- and as long as it doesnt turn into a place to hide.
You dont want to feel like hired help- 'working' in your current home-while having all the good times in this creative space.

You have every right to switch up the roles and dynamics in your marriage. You have a right to need more from your husband. You have a right to communicate your feelings and be heard. I really think some kind of therapy would be useful at the very least to have someone objectively keep the discussions on task.

ClaraRYCB
09-20-16, 12:14 PM
Thank you so much for your kind input @sarahsweets.

For my frame of mind: would you mind sharing if you have personal experience with relationship(s) with someone diagnosed with Asperger?

Below my answers as far as I can give them.

I understand what you mean but at this point even an OK therapist would be better than letting it ferment.

I agree. It takes 2 to tango though. Hubby doesn't want any atm. 1 therapist for himself is a great achievement in his case. I've been fighting for that for years. He has real trouble accepting any kind of external help or counseling.
I must say we had our share of a few terrible ones.


I think 'i feel' sentences are a good thing. It takes the blame away. I understand how he feels about talking but has this always been an issue? Even while dating?

Yes, always. I assume that because love is blind and cos of my own issues it took me a few years to realize what was my share and what was his. How he feels is a mystery and puzzle and in his case the core of how his Aspergers brain is wired.

To give you an example, he scores a 5 on Simon Baron-Cohen's Empathy Q
https://psychology-tools.com/empathy-quotient/
while I score a 65. I can 'feel' more about his feelings than he can himself (mostly due to me being able to read non-verbal cues). He seems to be really sensitive to any kind of critique or disappointment on my side. I can imagine he feels some kind of level of hopelessness.


Feeling like you live separate lives is a tough situation. Do you like living independently and only coming together for the things you mentioned?

We live together atm.

The separation situation is something that I just put into motion. I am on a waiting list for a work/living space for artists.

I do engage in social interactions with friends and courses at least once a week and up to 4 times a week in the evenings or the weekend. When he is at home with our son.
He also has work obligations at least once a week in the evenings or weekends.

So we alternate our social schedule.

We see each other daily but the contact is minimal, mostly about our son, chores, maybe one tv-show on Netflix a week. I initiate daily conversation like 'how was your day' and sometimes other issues like if I have an exceptional day pain/meds/therapy wise. The conversations are factual. Unless it is about his stress at work or some other stressor. Then he behaves mostly agitated and angry. I let him vent.

But I would say that the atmosphere is mostly quiet and casual family like. Perhaps a bit more tense than in a happy family?
(I have poor references so not sure)

When he is more relaxed and had enough down/alone-time he sometimes asks questions. Like when I came up with the idea of my own space outside of the home he asked 2 things: if it would affect our finances in a bad way and if this would mean an open relationship. That last one was a bit unexpected (but rooted in our history, maybe more about this at a later time in the private section).


You are absolutely correct about trying to change without communication. If you are unhappy enough, you will have to talk to him and not allow his discomfort with deep emotions to dissuade you from continuing.

Believe I have tried. Maybe too hard? Or not in the right way? No idea?

Talking leads to him shutting down and melt-downs (him crying in foetus position). Especially if it happens in a day when he had to work or do other chores.
I also have my weekly crying moments of pure despair.
So I learned to either avoid or email.


I mean to ask, how old are you two?
Me 41, he 38, son 12.


Creative space is good as long as it doesnt turn into the place you go to avoid dealing with things altogether- and as long as it doesnt turn into a place to hide.
You dont want to feel like hired help- 'working' in your current home-while having all the good times in this creative space.

Agreed.
But also hm, not sure if I expressed myself well.
I hope I can clarify.

I literally have no space of my own in our tiny flat. So there is no place where I feel at home. For that I either go to the gym or a walk in nature. I also have no place/space to create. Because creation leads to clutter and we have enough of that...

Being a homemaker is my job and I love being a mom so it doesn't feel like hired help. I do wish for a helping hand though, especially when I am in pain while having to carry heavy groceries or do the vacuuming.
He helps in the weekend. Unfortunately it almost always leads to overload on his side. Unless I plan it carefully or he slept well and long enough or had a day off or whatever has lead to a feeling of relaxation.


You have every right to switch up the roles and dynamics in your marriage. You have a right to need more from your husband. You have a right to communicate your feelings and be heard. I really think some kind of therapy would be useful at the very least to have someone objectively keep the discussions on task.

Thank you for the kind validation :)

I have a therapist, well 2 if you count the psychiatrist. Hubby also has one.
But none have encouraged relationship counseling because of the new diagnosis on all sides. And because they all have encountered the huge resistance on his part. Motivation is a real issue.

We have had family counseling regarding our son. As he is doing well, that trajectory ended a while ago.
And probably because none are real specialists in neither ADD nor Asperger. There are very few of those here in the Netherlands, especially as we live fairly remote. The waiting lists and distances are brutal.

Please do share a bit of your story or a link to your story. I love to learn from women that have been there, done that ;)

Thank you again. Hope to write more later.

sarahsweets
09-20-16, 02:01 PM
Well I dont have experience being married to an ASPIE. My husband and I are both adhd. My sister who is 27 now was diagnosed at age 3 with asberger's when it was barely a blip on the radar. At the time my Dad got her into the Eden Institute- they deal with autism but it was the best they could get at the time. So my experience is more in communicating and understanding her, and the relationship stuff is just based on 21 years of a good marriage.

ClaraRYCB
09-20-16, 02:24 PM
Well I dont have experience being married to an ASPIE. My husband and I are both adhd. My sister who is 27 now was diagnosed at age 3 with asberger's when it was barely a blip on the radar. At the time my Dad got her into the Eden Institute- they deal with autism but it was the best they could get at the time. So my experience is more in communicating and understanding her, and the relationship stuff is just based on 21 years of a good marriage.

Cool, thanks for clarifying.

I realized I forgot to mention the thing with the emotions & empathy, it's called alexithymia.
Cool article about that:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/people-with-autism-can-read-emotions-feel-empathy1/

So we looked into the overlap between autism and alexithymia, a condition defined by a difficulty understanding and identifying one’s own emotions. People with high levels of alexithymia (which we assess with questionnaires) might suspect they are experiencing an emotion, but are unsure which emotion it is. They could be sad, angry, anxious or maybe just overheated. About 10 percent of the population at large — and about 50 percent of people with autism — has alexithymia.

Something else I omitted was mentioning that the Empathy Q measure cognitive empathy which has to do with the ability to imagine how someone else feels, mostly based on social cues and experience with identifying own emotions.

So hubby can tell me that he loves me with a totally blank face. Or express no reaction whatsoever when I cry.

Meanwhile I did read a bit about your background and your marriage, congrats btw with your anniversary :)

How do you experience communicating with your sister?

kilted_scotsman
09-20-16, 03:43 PM
I empathise about finding it difficult to find a therapist/counsellor who gets AS/ADHD. The psychotherapy training in the UK in this area is woeful and I imagine it's the same in the Netherlands.

I have found that it's REALLY important to check out what type of therapy the peson trained in and to avoid person centred or psychodynamic. For AS a structured approach such as Transactional Analysis or CBT helps, however the most important thing is the relationship with the counsellor.

In addition, I've found that pure talk therapy isn't as powerful as combining talk therapy with some form of relational body orientated practice..... this gives something for the therapist to work with..... in the beginning it can be excruciating for the person with AS and they need good support.... hence the need for a good relationship with a therapist.

This process can sometimes reverse Alexthymia as this condition has many causes, it can be a primary part of the AS or a secondary process arising from the trauma of living with AS.... or a combination of the two.

sarahsweets
09-21-16, 03:01 AM
How do you experience communicating with your sister?
I wish it were better, we are not that close. My parents were divorced so she is my half sister. I lived with my mom and she was with my Dad. I was 17 when she was 3 and thats when the asbergers was in the beginning stages of diagnosis. Personally, I have always that she was autistic, but I am no expert. She has always had issues with explaining or showing affections. Hugs were always awkward. Her emotions would be considered inappropriate at times. Like she would laugh at things that werent funny, but she didnt mean it, she was just uncomfortable and it would seem that way. She hated her hair being brushed- it was a nightmare. She used to have a special brush for her body for stim purposed.

Even now, we dont talk as much as I talk to my brother. I have always had a hard time relating to her.
My Dad wasnt a good person and he also was in the middle of leaving my step-mother and so the chaos through my sister for a loop.

ClaraRYCB
09-21-16, 08:56 AM
I empathise about finding it difficult to find a therapist/counsellor who gets AS/ADHD. The psychotherapy training in the UK in this area is woeful and I imagine it's the same in the Netherlands.

I have found that it's REALLY important to check out what type of therapy the peson trained in and to avoid person centred or psychodynamic. For AS a structured approach such as Transactional Analysis or CBT helps, however the most important thing is the relationship with the counsellor.

In addition, I've found that pure talk therapy isn't as powerful as combining talk therapy with some form of relational body orientated practice..... this gives something for the therapist to work with..... in the beginning it can be excruciating for the person with AS and they need good support.... hence the need for a good relationship with a therapist.

This process can sometimes reverse Alexthymia as this condition has many causes, it can be a primary part of the AS or a secondary process arising from the trauma of living with AS.... or a combination of the two.

Wow, awesome, thanks!

I didn't know that alexthymia could be reversed...

I also didn't know that TA could help, although its more contemporary field aka schema therapy (that is very popular here especially for borderline PD) in which I was trained really helped me to deal with hubby's behavior.

Hubby tried CBT for depression a few years ago (before diagnosis) and that was a let down. Because it focused on linking behaviour to cognition and affect, which obviously are not obvious for hubby at all. And of course trust issues w the therapist which undermined the whole process.

So far I must say the current therapist seems to click because she is very experienced (like 40+ years) in the mental health. She was one of my mentors during my own training as a therapist and she has a cool no nonsense approach. I trust her and so does hubby. That is again important. But they only had a few sessions so we'll see.

Thanks again :)

ClaraRYCB
09-21-16, 09:14 AM
I wish it were better, we are not that close. My parents were divorced so she is my half sister. I lived with my mom and she was with my Dad. I was 17 when she was 3 and thats when the asbergers was in the beginning stages of diagnosis. Personally, I have always that she was autistic, but I am no expert. She has always had issues with explaining or showing affections. Hugs were always awkward. Her emotions would be considered inappropriate at times. Like she would laugh at things that werent funny, but she didnt mean it, she was just uncomfortable and it would seem that way. She hated her hair being brushed- it was a nightmare. She used to have a special brush for her body for stim purposed.

Even now, we dont talk as much as I talk to my brother. I have always had a hard time relating to her.
My Dad wasnt a good person and he also was in the middle of leaving my step-mother and so the chaos through my sister for a loop.

Thank you so much for sharing, much appreciated.
Yes it can be really hard to relate. I feel I can relate easier to Asperger women though then the AS males. And for me it also depends on how frequent other autistic behaviours are. Like for example tics, repetitive and other less socially accepted behaviors. Hubby is the type of lonesome silent kind dark stranger. With a quirky sense of humor that I can appreciate.

I am atm entering a fase where I try to relate and find some kind of way to connect and show appreciation for his strengths.

But still unfortunately more often than not he manages to do stuff that would drive me crazy or to tears.

Oh and he also has sensory issues. Sometimes that helps me connect because I can provide some kind of soothing by a scalp massage or when he is very in his head I just rub his belly and call him 'my lucky Buddha' which mostly leads to laughter and relaxation.

In retrospect I guess I managed to find a few creative ways to cope with the issues.
It's the emotional poverty (affection deprivation) together with my inner chaos that made it harder and harder to keep on trying creative ways to connect. Romance and intimacy for example withered a good while ago.

Anyways it's great to vent here. Thank you again for sharing and listening!