I have an aspie husband.

My husband was diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 29.  Though it had been suspected for years that he was an aspie, the official diagnosis came after hours and hours of testing and interviews.  We had been married for two years. At the time, the diagnosis was a beacon of hope, as it enabled him to receive services towards job placement, among other things.  Now, 6 years later, I see it as the beginning of the destruction of our marriage.

Since then, I’ve become a self taught expert on asperger’s and the neurotypical relationship.  I know what my husband’s needs and limitations are, and most of the time, try very hard to respect them.  However, asperger’s changes as you age, and with the onset of the diagnosis, it became an excuse, for pretty much any ill behavior.  I have always fought terribly hard for a social life of my own.  If he wanted to tag along, that’s great, but if not, that was ok too.  I was still going to see my friends.

3.5 years ago, after most of a year trying, we got pregnant.  The asperger’s diagnosis was looming large.  I always wondered if someone on the spectrum could truly care for and take care of an infant.  They can by the way.  I knew that I wanted a baby, and that worst case scenario, I could manage a (single) baby.  Unfortunately, my pregnancy was abominable.  I threw up every day, all day, from exactly 6 weeks.  By 16 weeks, it slowed down some, but then anything that so much as looked at my gag reflex would cause me to vomit.  At around 20 weeks, I swelled up like a balloon and at 24 weeks on the nose, began the trek down the road with preeclampsia.  I was fine until I wasn’t.  At 25 weeks, 1 day, our son was born.  He spent 3.5 months in the NICU, followed by another 4 months on house arrest as he came home during the worst RSV season in decades.  By that point, whatever social network I had was gone.

I struggled through that for about a year and a half.  At that point, I was miserably lonely, and questioning my own marriage.  See, the thing about aspies, is they can put on a good show to convince you they love you and woo you, while you’re dating.  Once you’re married, that show is unnecessary.  I’ve read countless places that NT wives felt duped, and admittedly, my husband and I have had conversations on several issues, where I felt the same way.  In any case, I reached out, on facebook to several friends of the past, notably all male.  I don’t know that I had dishonest intentions, but I don’t know that they were honest either.  I’ve always gotten along with guys, and I knew they wouldn’t want to talk about our kid.  Luckily, one of the friends I reached out to was Mr. ENFP.  Frankly, I owe a lot to him for the fact that I’m still married.  He has always championed the work it out attitude.

One of the traits of asperger’s is that an Aspie is very conflict averse.  So anytime there’s any sort of fight or disagreement, there’s this immediate need to fix it, now.  Except you don’t really fix anything.  You put a bandaid on it.  Finally, the wall of bandaids was so thick and tall with the wound festering underneath, the whole thing fell off.  I don’t know if we’ll stay married.  I get to this point of not wanting to be with him anymore, and then I sit with that, and get really sad.  Failure of any marriage is sad, but I sit in this circle of unknowns, because as sad as it is, I still love him.

Add to the mix, we now have a 2 year old, who is healthy and opinionated and wonderful, except when he’s being an asshole.  I have a dad who has lung cancer.  I’ve become the sole caregiver for everything MD Anderson related.  I have a VERY demanding job, which I love, but that sucks the life out of me.  And then I come home to a cold house, where even though I am with my husband, I’m alone.  I have made some new friends over the past year, in surprising places, and I think that  is what gives me the strength to go to therapy now.  That, and that Mr. ENFP has suggested it every time my husband and I have a fight.  The INTJ can be worn down.

Hopefully therapy will yield something positive.  At least there’s hope.

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Facing the spectrum

My husband has asperger’s.  He was diagnosed late in life, I believe he was 30.  We knew he was an aspie before the diagnosis, but as he was older, you had to have a psychiatrist referral for the testing, and his psychiatrist wouldn’t sign off on it.  Really, ultimately, it hasn’t mattered.  I don’t really do anything differently in our relationship than I did before I knew he was an aspie.  But, it brings a different colored light to things.  One of the things that is the most important for a well-functioning aspie is cognitive behavioral therapy (“CBT”).  As a neuro typical, no matter how introverted, we reach out into the rest of the world and ask (cognitively or not) how what we are doing affects the world around us.  Someone on the spectrum does exactly the opposite.  They ask how the world affects them.  Seeing a CBT helps keep the aspie opened up into the world just enough to pass for a little weird.  With the right therapist, things are great.  With the wrong one, they’re terrible.  Medical intervention is important, and he is on a variety of medications, but that therapy, that’s the make or break.

He had a therapist for many many years who was wonderful.  Frankly, I figured they’d grow old together.  He knew the whole family.  I’d been with my husband a few times.  However, therapists don’t generally make much money, and as things go, he decided to become a nurse practitioner.  Since then, my husband has gone to one of his partners, who was disastrous, another guy who is a CBT who would randomly cancel and miss appointments (also disastrous), and has recently began seeing a lady who is not a CBT, but was recommended by his psychiatrist.  She has requested to meet me, which is a first in our relationship.  My husband liked her on first meeting, but first meetings generally are pretty benign in the therapy world.  It’s like trying on a pair of jeans – ‘do you immediately not fit? No?  Well, I’ll keep coming to see you.’  Eventually you find that person who just gets it.

So tomorrow, my son will go to his grandmother’s and my husband and I will trot off to therapy.  I’m a little anxious.  I won’t lie.  This has, without a doubt, been a growing year for us.  As we approach our eighth anniversary of marriage, I feel the weathering we have taken this year.  Having a child who was born 15 weeks early takes its toll on any situation.  And children take so much time when they’re small.  This time last year, I truly felt as if I’d lost myself, and was dismally gray.  I am not exactly sure what I was looking for at the time, but when I reconnected with Mr. ENFP, I was looking for something.  Now, he stands kind of as that reminder that I need to consider myself occasionally.  He’s helped me get back into music which has been an excellent outlet for my life.  But, with Mr. ENFP’s friendship, I feel much stronger in my marriage.  I know what I want and need out of my marriage, and what I can’t get out of my marriage.

For me, marriage is a place of comfort.  It’s a refuge.  It’s a soft place to land.  We all take care of each other and love each other.  We encourage each other, but it’s not the place to challenge or push.  But, I need that perspective to keep moving forward – working towards paralegal certification, advancing my playing.  And that is where Mr. ENFP (and Dr. ENFP) come in.  He gives that edge of a push of accountability to make sure that I’m doing what I need to be doing, and when I’m not, he will call me out on it.  The situation is likewise, but this isn’t about him.  It’s about me.

I feel fairly confident that the subject of Mr. ENFP is going to come up tomorrow.  It’s been a sticking point in our marriage multiple times over the past year.  Frankly, I will be surprised if he doesn’t come up.  All week, I’ve been examining his role in our marriage, and I feel fairly certain my husband has been doing the same.  About 80% of what we talk about is musically related.  The friendship is mostly based out of accountability.  I’ve watched my husband examine this as well.  I hope he’s come to the same conclusion.

Therapy will be what it will be.  I’m going in with an open mind and an open heart.   Really, that’s all you can do.  I’ve been in this marriage for eight years, and have plans to be in it for many many more years.  I hope he sees that.

Sometimes logic gets you nowhere

The underlying theme to almost every entry I’ve written is that I surround myself with feelers, specifically intuitive feelers, to help me with the feelings that I do such a poor job at navigating and feeling on my own. Yesterday was a prime example of exactly that.  I’d had a hard day at work.  We have a huge hearing on Tuesday, with people coming in from all over the country, and it’s caused a great amount of stress for me.  I was working on a timeline of events, which meant me reaching out to one of our co counsel in Houston.  He’s a brilliant attorney, but is possibly the most disorganized person I’ve ever dealt with.  Unfortunately, their office was in charge of compiling the electronic portion of the document production.  So now, a number of months later, I’m trying to determine exactly what documents were produced (a bates number range) for each of the productions (three), which meant directly dealing with him.  What he needs is an excellent assistant who is say 10-15 years younger than him who can keep him organized and in line (admittedly, this was Mr. ENFP’s idea, not mine, but I wholeheartedly agree).  The questions I was asking were not lawyer questions.  They were purely administrative.  While he should know the answers, and it is immensely frustrating that he did not, this would have been exactly the kind of thing my boss would have forwarded to me to figure out had the situation been reversed.  So, that gives a background of my day.

I come home, and my toddler had not napped.  He’s an easy guy, and is happy all of the time, but when he is sleep deprived, he is a 3 foot tall asshole.  I walked in to him loudly complaining about God knows what, with tear stained cheeks.  I immediately scoop him up and comfort him.  I set him down so I can start dinner.  Our house was built for a guy who is 6’4.  I cannot even touch the top shelf of the cabinets, much less use them.  Naturally, my husband puts the flour on the top shelf, always.  So I asked him to get it down.  He reaches up, and pulls, on the flour when it’s discovered that it has a hole in the bottom.  Immediately he shuts down, and says he can’t get the flour down, and walks away.  We argue about how I’m supposed to interpret that differently, that just because he can’t get the flour down, doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to.  I frustratingly grab a stool, pull the flour down which leaks probably 1/8 cup of flour onto the counter, put it in a bag and proceed to make dinner (coconut chicken).  He emotionally backs up, and then admits that he hadn’t thought about that.

I send him off to give our exhausted toddler a bath, as I know that as a family of three we will self destruct if he is not able to immediately go to bed post dinner.  My husband goes to bathe the toddler who is unexcited about bathing pre-food.  In the meantime, I call to make a restaurant reservation, as we are supposed to go to dinner on Saturday.  After supper gets into the oven, I let him know that I’ve made the reservation.

They emerge shortly before supper, my son in a diaper, where we begin arguing about why I needed to tell him that I’d made the reservation.  It all comes back to the flour.  He then says I’m a wall of a emotion and just need to let it all out.  I stare.  Admittedly, I’ll agree that there was a lot of emotion there, but it wasn’t as if I was holding anything back.

We eat supper.  Nothing is really resolved.  I then take our toddler to get ready for bed.  As I wait for him to nod off, my husband decides he’s not going to the gym.  I insist that he really does need to go to the gym.  Finally we come around to the point that I need an hour off, by myself, without anyone around.  He leaves, due to return in an hour.  I immediately call Mr. ENFP, who doesn’t answer as he’s teaching.  I send him some frenzied texts about what’s going on.  He calls post lessons (the schedule I have doesn’t show his last lesson apparently).  When I answer the phone, his first word is wow.  He tells me that you could slice the tension with a knife.  He was probably right.  We talk for a few moments, to where he admits that maybe he is part of the problem.  You can hear the disappointment in his voice.  We both acknowledge that we’re missing some puzzle pieces to what’s really going on with my husband.  My husband gets home, I hang up.

We quietly cuddle and don’t talk about anything that has happened.  I decide to get ready for bed.  He asks if I want him to come to bed.  I say it is up to him.  He opts to come to bed later.  Surprisingly, I slept, hard.

Today, he’s trying to be syrupy sweet, and I’m tiptoeing around trying to not add to conflict.  I imagine tonight will be more tiptoeing and sweetness.  I expect one day we will get to the bottom of what is going on, but in true INTJ form, I’m trying to logic what the heck is happening, and my husband, a classic INFJ with a very strong F, wants me to understand his feelings.  It is in this situation that I feel completely inept.  It’s not that I don’t want to make anything better, and certainly not that I don’t want to be able to comfort my husband, but literally I do not get it.  How else am I supposed to interpret the shutting down of not being able to get down a bag of flour, than it becoming something I need to handle myself?  Even now, I simply do not get it.  My husband is a very literal person. With Asperger’s, the shades of grey are rare.  So, why is it that he can’t see that when I take something he’s said literally – something that sounds very literal – that I would get upset with him over it?

This is the second time this has happened this week.  My husband has had some new found jealousy towards Mr. ENFP.  It’s been resolved to a point that it’s attention based, not emotionally based, but still, it has to be dealt with.  When I’m on the phone with Mr. ENFP at home, which isn’t really often, he’d like me to sit with him.  He wants to be close to me.  I did exactly what he asked, and then upon getting off of the phone, he said there must be something wrong with me that I’m willing to do that just to talk to my friend.  Also, that hurt my feelings.  Also there was a question of interpretation, as I took him at face value, because that’s what I always do, as there are no subtleties with someone with Asperger’s.

So here I sit at the end of a week, baffled and frustrated.  Logic will not help me, but I literally am not grasping the feelings that my husband so desperately wants me to understand.  Ideally, it’s the feelers who help me through these situations, but on the rare occasion that the tables are turned, I am completely at a loss.   Supposedly, feelings are at some point supposed to be like the canary in a coal mine for the well developed INTJ.  Unfortunately, in this situation, the canary isn’t even there.