Sunday, October 4, 2015

Speaking of Consequences . . .

Yesterday, my aspie spouse started yelling at me in the car.  What started the argument was, of course, my fault. 

Because I'm a total idiot.  Mainly, because I have feelings.  And (cardinal sin that it is), I tried to share said feelings.

So stupid of me!

Will I never learn?  Obviously not.

No matter how much brilliant and helpful how-to-speak-to-an-aspie-knowledge I store in this noggin of mine, my natural, God-created heart will vomit out my feelings via this mouthpiece of mine that can't seem to stay shut.  Or to remember the "rules."  Great rules, yes.  But are they always there in an argument?  Nope.

So, don't feel like a failure when the tips, tricks, and rules are forgotten and feelings spew out.

Take a deep breath.  And get out of the argument as fast as you can.  Any way that you can.

Know what I did yesterday?  When he was yelling at me?  And I was stuck in a car?  (Normally, I drive.  Again, I was a complete idiot yesterday and forgot to insist on driving myself.)

I got out.  In the middle of an intersection.  At a red light.  In the middle of traffic.

And I started walking.

I had no plan other than to just get away from him.  Because he will no longer be allowed to treat me that way.  To speak to me that way.  To YELL at me.

I walked several blocks.  Home was about five miles away.  And I was willing to walk all the way, around dangerous, sidewalk-less curves. 

Maybe I would've called a friend.  Or in a momentary bout of insanity, accepted a ride from a stranger (a female stranger, only, though).  I guess I could always call a cab.  And charge the bill to his credit card.  Ha!  Now THAT would get his attention.

Well, he pulled up beside me, completely shell-shocked.  Where am I going?  I am going home.  I am not spending the day with you.  I am not joining you on the plans we had for the day.  I am going home.  If you will take me straight there without talking, I will get in the car.  Otherwise, I will find another way home.

And he drove me home.  Where I locked myself in the bedroom for the rest of the day.  (*Another life-saving tip:  get a doorknob with a lock to which you have the only key!)

At the end of the night, my aspie quietly and humbly apologized for not listening to my concerns.  Yes, my aspie has come a very, very long way.  Apologizing for "not listening to my concerns" would never have happened the first umpteen years of our marriage.  These days, however, my aspie can actually be pretty darn awesome.  I thank God for that.  For getting us help.  For couples counseling, and therapy, and a diagnosis, and answered prayers.

Keep praying.  Forgive him, and forgive yourself for all the times you mess up and OOPS! share your feelings.  Use consequences.  It can get better.  It can, it can, it can.  But it will never be easy.  It will never be over.  Aspergers will always be there as a trial for you both to fight your way through, learning, growing, and becoming better and stronger because of it.

God is good.  God is in control.  God gave him this.  God gave you this.  And He will provide a way for you both.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Consequences and Nondefensive Communication

Another great book worth having at your fingertips for frequent reference is "Emotional Blackmail" by Susan Forward.  The author states that "Nondefensive communication always works!" And she is absolutely correct.

Over the past few months, I have worked hard at communicating more effectively with the aspies in my life, especially with the ones who tend to be rather angry.  My getting defensive, yelling, crying, seeking to argue, justify, or give reasonable explanations, only escalated problems.  Two major changes, however, have impacted my life immensely.

1.). Consequences.  Set a boundary line around issues and areas that need help, and start protecting your time, energy, heart, and life.  Be calm and clear.  After asking nicely that your aspie take your feelings into consideration (which they likely won't and/or just won't know how to manage such a feat), state the consequence for failing to take care of your comfort or health.  "I feel scared.  If you do not stop speeding on these dangerous roads, I will find another way home from the event."  "My pain level is bad this week.  If you do not put the in-laws in a hotel when they come to visit, I will go stay in a hotel myself until they leave." "I'm not willing to be yelled at. I'm leaving." Sound too harsh? An NT would not as likely need such directness along with a consequence, after explaining one's emotional turmoil or health problems that are affected in a given scenario, but your aspie might.

2.) In an argument, use Nondefensive answers only and refuse to justify, argue, defend, or explain yourself.   For memory's sake, the book gives the acronym JADE (don't Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain).  I prefer more grim terms, and use the acronym DEAD (Don't Explain, Argue, or Defend).  Because if there will be no chance of reaching mutual understanding, the sooner the argument is killed the better!
Most importantly, one should commit to memory a list of Nondefensive answers:

"I'm sorry you're upset."
"I understand how you might see it that way."
"You're entitled to your opinion."
"This is the way it has to be."
"I need to think about this more."

and one more time . . . The one phrase that can be used in any conversation that will bring an argument to a close . . . "I'M SORRY YOU ARE UPSET." (aka "I'm sorry you feel that way.")

Respond with that one phrase and always remember your goal for heated arguments.


Don't Explain, Argue, or Defend!  

What?  You disagree?

I'm sorry you feel that way.  ;)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

For Better

Counseling has made a world of difference in our relationship!  Meeting with a counselor who understands autism, and having my emotions validated by a professional in the presence of my aspie spouse, is what I needed to be able to move forward with contentment.  I didn't realize how much I needed that.

Whether he ever understands me, communication, or our relationship, the fact that he physically attends a counseling session where he has to give his full attention to the marriage has completely changed us for the better.

When we miss a session, anger and misery creep back, old habits return with a vengeance.  For now it is obvious that we must regularly meet together with a counselor.   It only makes sense, right?  The aspie is often lacking the common sense to see what others see so easily. He needs to focus deeply on the task.  He might see counseling as pointless.  Even during and after sessions he may believe it was a waste of time.  But if it's what you need, it's okay to make it a non-negotiable requirement.

Whether he realizes it or not, the relationship got his full attention for the time in counseling, and seeds were planted that will slowly take root and grow. Somewhere in that amazing aspie brain, communication was the focus.  He was there.  He was there with me.  Though it may not make any sense to him whatsoever, his attending counseling sessions with me makes me know that he cares and that he is trying.

It's better.  The relationship is not all good. But it's better.

Praise God, we are better.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Get ready. Get set. And GO!


Sometimes it is necessary to leave the relationship in order to wake the aspie up.

Read "The Emotionally Destructive Marriage" by Leslie Vernick.  This is a different book from "The Emotionally Destructive Relationship" by the same author.  Vernick goes against the common Christian counsel when she encourages a time of separation as a positive step.  How true that "if you don't allow the abuser to suffer the pain of consequences, he will never change."

I am a Christian whose spouse has Asperger's Syndrome.  And I left my angry aspie.  Got my stuff and kids ready.  Got set for the right moment.  And left.

Five years of pleading with him to go to counseling, to be evaluated for Aspergers, and to work on communication in our marriage met adamant refusal.

It took my leaving to wake him up.  It took a dramatic, drastic, serious action.  It took suffering the consequences.  And you know what?

My spouse just received an official diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome.  A 100% confirmed diagnosis.

And we are now in marriage counseling with a counselor who is very familiar with autism spectrum disorders.

Praise God.

Let's get ready, get set, and go.

Get ready.  Get set.  And GO.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

New Resource by the Best AS/NT Author!

The very clearest explanations of how Aspergers Syndrome affects a relationship with an NT partner are found in Ashley Stanford's book "Aspergers Syndrome and Long-Term Relationships."  That was my Aspergers bible when I started this journey, and I strongly recommend every NT who is in any sort of relationship (but particularly a romantic one) with an aspie, read that book, even before reading any others.  It simply hits the nail on the head for the NT partner who is struggling to understand the crazy AS/NT journey (that now finally has a name!) that she has been on.

When I recently stumbled upon a new book by Ms. Stanford, I could not wait to purchase it.  Troubleshooting Relationships on the Autism Spectrum: A User's Guide to Resolving Relationship Problems by Ashley Stanford.

Hope these resources help you as much as they have helped me!


Thursday, May 1, 2014


From the book Toxic In-Laws by Susan Forward:  "People can only give what they can give, and can only be who they are.  We are all limited in certain ways, and we are all the product of our own history.  Let go of resentment.  Find realistic acceptance of what can and cannot be regarding the relationship."

What can your aspie not help being, and what can he choose to help?  The aspie may not be able to help that he only sees things from his own perspective, due to his brain wiring.  This means, in my situation, that he will believe I am always wrong anytime we disagree/differ.  I can expect him to believe I am always wrong.  I can accept that it is pointless to try and share my perspective or ever reach mutual understanding.  But he can choose to be calm rather than out of control.  He can be held responsible for speaking in anger.

I've struggled "through the pain and error that so often create wisdom" (Toxic In-Laws).  Struggled so hard to find "realistic acceptance of what can, and cannot be, in a relationship" with all of the difficult people in my life.

From Foolproofing Your Life:  "Your goal cannot be to have the fool change; instead, your goal must be to find a personal freedom that allows you to be the person God intends for you to be, no matter what choices your fool makes.  Turn from being consumed by the behavior of your fool."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In an Asperger's Marriage or Relationship? Grieving the Death of the Dream

An asperger's diagnostician informed me that 80% of children diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (high functioning autism) have either a parent or a grandparent (likely undiagnosed) on the autism spectrum.

Many parents have a light bulb "aha" moment after the diagnosis of a child.  "AHA!  So THIS explains why my spouse (or parent) has always done such and such.  He (or she) has traits consistent with autism!"

And the relief of finally having a name to go with the confusing characteristics and behaviors is quickly followed by grief.  Please know that this grief is normal, and oh, so common

After going through the grief myself over the past five years, my advice to you is to go with it.  Don't fight it.  The dream of ever having a normal, typical relationship with your autistic loved ones is over.  GRIEVE! 

It's okay to have been in denial.  Don't beat yourself up if you had been denying the symptoms in the past.  You did the best you could with what you knew at the time.  And it's fine to be angry.  But try very hard not to take the anger out on those around you.  Journal.  Pray.  Confide in a highly empathic friend, or seek a good counselor during this time, to help you process all the emotions you are feeling.

Familiarize yourself with the stages of grief:  But most importantly, call this what it is.  This is the DEATH of a dream.  GRIEF of a true loss.

As you are able to better understand what you are truly going through, post-diagnosis, you will grow, and then be better able to take care of the differently-abled people in your life.