One Way To Avoid Aspergers Relationship Difficulties

aspergers relationshipHave you ever tried to mix oil and water?

That’s what combining a neurotypical brain with an Aspergian brain can feel like, when a neurotypical (NT) person marries someone on the autism spectrum.

Here’s the pain one woman felt after one year of marriage:

After my first year of marriage…I was either going to leave him or kill him, and I loved him too much for that…

The very real brain differences between Aspies-NTs create very real relationship challenges.

Love is blind at the beginning of the relationship, but commitment and marriage are real eye-openers!

When misunderstanding and rejection take root, loneliness ensues:

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.
Mother Teresa

One Way To Avoid Aspergers Relationship Pain

Dr. Cindy Ariel shares one way for you, the NT partner, to better embrace your partner’s differences.

You can read about this relationship strategy in her book, Loving Someone With Asperger’s Syndrome: Understanding and Connecting With Your Partner.

Pick Out Your Partner’s Aspergers Advantages

Here’s Dr. Ariel’s list.  How many of them does your partner demonstrate?

  • High or superior IQ
  • Excellent memory for certain facts and details
  • Intense focus and attentiveness
  • Steadfast loyalty
  • Strong sense of justice
  • Nonconformist attitudes
  • Clear moral beliefs
  • Kind and gentle behavior
  • Extensive vocabulary
  • Creative talent

Focus On Your Partner’s Asperger’s Syndrome Advantages

Here’s Dr. Ariel’s sample exercise to help you:

  1. List at least three positive attributes your partner offers in your relationship.  Resist the urge to add how many of them may have also become a negative trait.  For now, just give your  partner credit for positive characteristics.
  2. Write a sentence of two next to each item in the list to explain how this trait positively affects your relationship.
  3. Keep this list handy to refer to later.  Your partner’s positive traits may be useful in strengthening weaker areas of relating.  Rereading the list at times can also remind you of the positive characteristics that help to make your relationship worth your continued love and energy.

Here’s Dr. Ariel’s example of how this list might look.  Your partner is unique.  Come up with your own list to fit your partner.

  • Intensely focused: Persistent until he fixes what breaks around the house.  Can learn to fix about anything.
  • Honest: I can trust that whatever he tells me is truthful.
  • Calm: Does not become easily upset or stressed by things not working around the house; he just goes about fixing them
  • Predictable: I can rely on him to do exactly what he says he will do, when he says he will do it.

Final Suggestions

Decide to focus on the positive.  This doesn’t mean you ignore the negatives. Dr. Ariel’s book provides detailed solutions for coping with negatives.  But starting out with a positive tone yields the best long term results.

Read Dr. Ariel’s book.

Seek out a marriage counselor or therapist who understands Aspergers syndrome and can help you problem solve challenging differences.

Seek out support.  Aspires, for example, is an online support resource for spouses and family members of adults diagnosed or suspected to be on the autistic spectrum.  The approach at the website toward each other and toward “significant others” is directed towards solving problems in a relationship with a spectrum-sitting spouse.

What are some Aspergers relationship solutions you’ve discovered?  Please share in the comments!

photo credit: linh.ngan

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 I'm Steve Borgman.  I'm a licensed clinical professional counselor and blogger committed to bringing you hope, understanding, and solutions that you can apply to your life immediately.
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