Asperger’s Syndrome, A husband’s Perspective
(A post by Mr. Aspie Writer)
My wife asked me to write a brief blog post for our anniversary. I was shocked and honored. Shocked that she would ask me to contribute to her blog and honored that she would include me in this very personal part of her life. Her writing is part of the means by which she is using to define who she herself is. So when asked to be included, it really means to me, that I am being allowed to be included in herself in a very real, very personal way.
You might say, well aren’t you taking this a little too literally? Welcome to the world of Asperger’s Syndrome. Aspies are very literal minded. Innuendo’s and phrases wrapped in dual meanings are difficult to comprehend, since in their mind, it is a form of dishonesty. Aspies almost always say what they mean and mean what they say. Period.
What does a woman with Asperger’s Syndrome look like?
I would first like to say that when considering Asperger’s Syndrome, you must realize that it is a form of Autism. But if you have any preconceived notions of what an Autistic person should look or act like, go ahead and toss those out right now. I can tell you after fifteen years of marriage to an Aspie, they’re all completely wrong. There is NO way to tell an Autistic person by simply looking at them.
It took me fifteen years to realize my wife had Asperger’s. And initially it was based on a joke. I saw a character in a movie that had Asperger’s and I saw in that character so many of my wife’s traits. I said, “Look, that girl is you personified!” To which something clicked in my wife and she realized, that just maybe I was right. (So in retrospect, it was one of the few times in our marriage that my wife could say I was right about something!)
My wife is a beautiful, intelligent, extremely loyal and devoted person. If looking at her for the first time, you would not say there goes a person with Asperger’s. You would say, wow how could I get her number?
My wife is literally the most intelligent person I know. She has a seemingly inexhaustible ability to retain information. She remembers everything she hears and most of what she reads. (Try winning an argument with someone who NEVER forgets one word you have ever said). She can research something so completely, that she will OWN the subject. Again try winning an argument with someone who can remember every facet of something she’s researched.
“She danced to the beat of her own drum…”
When we first met fifteen years ago, part of what initially attracted me to her (besides the fact that she is incredibly hot), was that she was independent and didn’t seem to care what other people thought or said. She danced to the beat of her own drum so to speak. I didn’t realize until much later that there was no level of compromise in this.
For example, some people may realize that their partner/boyfriend/fiancé/spouse likes them to look a certain way or is attracted to a certain fashion or style on the opposite sex. My wife almost always wore sweats and a tee with her hair pulled back, or if coming from work in a dance studio, a short skirt, high heels and a leotard top. If she was picking me up from church after work, she would come in her work clothes, which while sexy and showed off her toned legs and ample bosom, was probably inappropriate for a church setting.
When coming to pick me up from my job, where I wore a shirt and tie, she would almost always come in sweats and a tee because she was not coming from work in her “work uniform.”
When I asked why she couldn’t change before she met me so we could go out, she said, “we can go out like this, I’m comfortable. These clothes are nice and soft and I don’t mind going anywhere in them.” At first, I merely thought that she didn’t care enough about my feelings on the subject to compromise on it.
What became obvious later was that it wasn’t that she didn’t care. It was that any other material except that used in the outfits she wore, irritated her skin so badly, it would be like wearing an outfit made from sandpaper. She could not compromise on it.
Sensory Processing Disorder
One of my wife’s “symptoms” is that she has hyper-senses. (Sensory Processing Disorder). She has incredibly acute senses of touch, smell, taste, hearing, and is very sensitive to light. She can hear the filaments buzzing in fluorescent tubes. She can smell the scents held in a carpet that most of us would miss entirely. She can taste odors and if in a restaurant, she can taste individual spices and recreate the dish at home. She has to use red or brown tinted sunglasses outside so she can see, and she has to use ear plugs almost all day to minimize the chaos of all the information her brain processes.
While some of these things can be great (re-creating meals I like from restaurants), they can still make living day to day a real struggle and challenge. It is hard, when you are tired, after a long day of work, to have to come home and put my tiredness aside and remind myself to consider her way of processing things when talking to her and more importantly when listening to her. Try to come home to a woman who can hear the trash truck four blocks away, and who just spent the day with a thirteen year old, an eight year old and an eighteen month old all running amok all day.
Try constantly trying to tell those same children that mommy needs to have some peace and quiet in order not to have a meltdown. And then try to have to reassure your wife that she shouldn’t feel guilty about needing some peace and quiet when she has three boys. And all this after a long day at work.
Life can be hard–Is your Aspie worth it?
Something to take away from this may be a bit obvious but I think it needs to be reinforced. You chose to be with your Aspie. If you married her, whether or not you knew at the time what you were getting into, remember, that she is worth fighting for! If you are in a relationship, one thing I’ve learned is that Aspie women are fiercely loyal. And they expect that same loyalty to be returned. And she, more than any other woman you probably know, is worth the fight.
COMMUNICATE with her. Let her know in no uncertain terms what you are feeling and why. Then help her to find a situation that you know she’s been in which made her feel similar to what you are feeling. This will help her understand and relate to your feelings better. Aspies are not the unfeeling machines which the media makes them out to be. In fact they feel EVERYTHING twenty times more intensely than you do. Mostly the problem comes in their realizing why you may feel as you do and responding in a manner that you may feel is more appropriate.
And finally learn all you can about Aspergers. Some great books, which are easy to read and understand are “Aspergirls” and “22 Things a Woman with Asperger’s Syndrome Wants Her Partner to Know”, by Rudy Simone. These are two books which helped shed tremendous amounts of light on the subject for me. They helped to see things from their perspective and made it easier for me to look at the world through my wife’s beautiful eyes.
Ask yourself, if it’s hard for you to relate to her, how much harder is it for her to relate to you? You may know your reasons for doing and feeling whatever you do, but do you think it makes sense to her? Ask her and find out.
Can you really say you are trying to understand her and her Asperger’s? What have you done to do so? What more can you do?
UPDATED JAN. 2013: Since Mr. Aspie Writer wrote this post he has decided to begin his own blog to share his experiences being married to an Aspie (Me). To read more about marriage and asperger’s syndrome from an NT husband perspective, check out his new blog, My Aspie Wife.
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